Aaron Perry
Oct 29, 2018 · 8 min read

We Need Dirtier Politicians and Executives!

Politicians and Executives are not getting dirty enough — they need to get dirtier!

Especially if we are going to succeed as a society and persevere in the face of the immense challenges looming before us — we need our leaders to get really, really dirty.

Down and dirty!

We need leaders with iron-clad strength of spirit, unwavering courage and fortitude, and the special intelligence that understands how to navigate the perfect storms of social, political, economic, and ecologic risks endemic to these blustery times.

Our leaders must not falter, they must not waiver, and they must not hide in the comforts of their gated communities, high-rise executive suites, or the exclusive, lofty climes of their private jets.

Our leaders need to be firm and steadfast in the performance of their duties and obligations. They need to get down to Earth and get really, really dirty.

Literally!

Why — what’s the problem? Well there’s actually a huge problem, and a widespread problem. You see, many of the political and business leaders steering our collective ship don’t actually comprehend the systemic risks we now face as a global society — let alone what can be done to mitigate and overcome those risks! Others among them, despite somewhat understanding those risks, have determined that it’s in their narrow, short-term interest not only to ignore such risks, but actually to eschew them and ridicule those people who are working to mitigate those risks. This course is entirely misguided, and, one could say, flies in the face of those doctrines and tenets we hold dear in our culture. Those most sacred tenets, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are very much at risk right now — in so many different ways. Although our nation was conceived and birthed on the cornerstones of these great tenets, we have since strayed so perilously far from them. It’s as if we’ve fallen sick in the adolescence of our society’s life-path, and desperately need to grow up, cross the rights-of-passage threshold into adulthood, and find our way home again. But until deliberately and willfully taking such a step, we suffer from a social and psychological disease.

What explains such pathology? Like any sickness or disease, there must be an underlying cause, right?

Indeed.

It is clear that there’s a combination of phenomena driving all of this — a combination of disconnection, hubris, and inferior intelligence. That is, that web-work of connection and interconnection that naturally keeps a society cohesive and sane — much like the web-work of relationships found in ecosystems — is fraying and diseased. What naturally occurs in healthy people, ecosystems and societies is in our case afflicted by disconnection and is rapidly decaying. What would naturally occur as humility is in this case hubris. And what would naturally occur as a profound awareness, respect and reverence for the awesomeness of this miraculous creation we call home — Planet Earth — is in this case a woefully underdeveloped and inferior form of intelligence. These are diseases of both hearts and minds — diseases that are quite literally fraying the fabric of our society as well as the ecological fabric of our planet that allows for each of us as well as our society to exist at all in the first place.

This is an extremely destructive and terrifically dangerous disease that is now plaguing our world. Like other diseases in previous eras — the Bubonic plague, smallpox, yellow fever — this one could very well take a lot of us down — and just as randomly as those previous epidemics did. But, the disease we face at present is more complex — it expresses physical symptoms as well as emotional, mental and spiritual symptoms. For, it stems from physical causes as well as emotional, mental and spiritual ones. It is a mega-disease, if there ever was one, now afflicting and affecting our entire human family and our entire shared spaceship: Planet Earth.

Scary, yes. Ominous, to be sure. Dire, without question.

Hopeless?

No.

Not hopeless. For, there is a cure for this horrendous disease, a cure that, fortunately, exists in great quantities all around the world. What is this cure, you might be asking?

Soil.

Dirt.

Literally.

We all need this cure — to be sure — but most especially our political and business leaders need this cure, desperately!

For, in these times, leaders simply cannot lead effectively without having an authentic and profound connection with the living planet, and her fathomless beauty and ineffable complexities. A profound respect. A profound reverence and commitment to stewardship that necessarily emerges with such connection.

Leaders cannot lead well without this.

Period.

The problems we currently face have answers and solutions, yes, but those answers and solutions will not be — cannot be — found in spreadsheets or boardrooms. Spreadsheets and boardrooms are tools — important and useful, to be sure! But, just like a rudder and compasses, tools used to navigate a ship, they are only actually useful if those navigating know where to go. The tools cannot magically reveal this essential awareness to us. They are incapable.

The answers and solutions to this great epidemic of spirit, mind, and heart must be sought elsewhere.

We have to know where to go. We have to understand the direction we’re leading — ourselves, each other, and our society (it turns out that the business and political leaders will always follow, by the way, when we take such a lead). And, in order to understand where to go, we have to cultivate a personal relationship with the ship we’re sailing on — our Mother Earth and her living biosphere — with the soil, with the trees, with the forests, and with the holy waters that flow through the whole of life here.

But, especially with soil.

Soil is the root and foundation of our terrestrial existence on this otherwise watery orb. Soil is that essential, alchemical layer in land-based ecosystems where regeneration occurs minute by minute, day after day — everyday, since the dawn of civilization, the dawn of humanity, the very dawn of terrestrial ecosystems! Soil is that miraculous, immanent place in which trillions upon trillions of organisms live and interact in a complex dance — an orchestration of countless millions of species — in just a single acre! Scale that in your mind’s eye! Think about and envision how rich and vast these soil ecologies are world-wide! They are living systems of orders and complexities far, far beyond any technology we have ever created. They are so vast and complex that they make our human systems of energy, nutrient, and product exchange (aka our Economy) to appear as the small, simple, feeble, and fragile human construct that they actually, truly are.

21st Century Leadership Requires Soil Stewardship

This is the reality in which we’re all situated.

This is the perspective that is required of leaders now.

But doing so is extremely challenging for us! (Heck, aren’t leaders by definition up for challenges?)

It can be so hard for us to understand the truth that the rules of the economy are human constructs. But they are — it’s that simple. By contrast, the rules governing nature — the living world surrounding us on this unique gem of a planet — are not a construct (at least not constructed by anybody who will likely read and respond to this article — but I digress into esoteric waters)! Those natural rules — the laws governing the natural, living world, are the rules our leaders need to know intimately. And honor with the awe and reverence that they automatically engender — automatically (with such knowledge and awareness)! The logic here is clear: to lack a sense of awe and reverence for the living world unequivocally means that there is a lack in awareness, perspective, or understanding. Any lack of awe and reverence is a direct indication of the disease we seek to cure — the disease of underdeveloped intelligence. It is a clear indication that better education is needed — the literal, etymological sense of education: leading out. Leading outside more specifically!

We thus need much better educated political and business leaders — now!

We need leaders who actually comprehend the awesomeness of nature’s intelligence, and thus cultivate an intelligent perspective about being a human being on this miraculous planet earth.

And along with this perspective comes humility. An absolute necessity and an essential attribute of true leadership. Humility is not only the result of having direct, personal experience with living nature; it is also endemic to our connection with soil. The very words themselves tell us of this intimate relationship. You see, another word for soil — humus — is directly connected to the word humility. And, they are both directly connected to the word humor (thank goodness!), as well as our word for ourselves: humanity. As I discuss further in the recent article, “Soil Spirituality,” this is an essential framework for cultivating intelligence, health and well-being in our own lives.

As our leaders increasingly engage with living soil, and connect with the miracle of our living biosphere, they will also benefit from enhanced cognitive performance, creativity, rejuvenation, and will even feel better physically and emotionally (there are dozens of medical and scientific publications now showing how physical interaction with living soil and immersion in forests provide myriad benefits to our neuro-biochemical constitutions).

Thus, this is our simple take-away:

Dirty leaders think better and feel better.

Who knows, maybe dirty leaders will also experience a far deeper sense of connection, belonging, and purpose, that they’d otherwise seek in bars, country clubs, and expensive luxury brands!

Let’s give it a try and see what happens! ;-)

In order to help lead us toward a future grounded in peace, abundance, prosperity, and kindness, we need leaders who understand this reality for what it actually is — not some pale representation of what it is in the form of spreadsheets, market data or fickle polling results.

We need leaders who understand the sacred duty and responsibility we have to take good care of each other and of our living planet — that this is our highest calling, and that attaining this understanding is the solid foundation of true leadership. We need leaders who love — literally love — our great, living Spaceship Earth. Such biophilia — love of life — is so sorely lacking in our culture right now, you could say that we have become afflicted by the disease of love-less-ness.

We need leaders who love. We need leaders who understand the necessity of love. We need leaders who understand the logic of love. We need leaders who understand the strength and power of love.

We need leaders — politicians, executives, parents, neighbors, you and I — to get really, really dirty — now!

Aaron Perry

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