Recently, I read something interesting in a book entitled, “The Broken American Male” by Rabbi Boteach. He was speaking about the ability to let go of things and passing the mantle. He expressed that when the time comes for us to pass something and we feel capable of it, then the cause has taken precedence. If we find transition difficult then the cause has become the only means by which we promote our personal agenda. Notice what he said:
Moses led the Jews through the desert for thirty years. But the moment it came time to pass the torch to Joshua, Moses did not hesitate. When God told him that he would not enter the promise land, he had one request: please God, don’t leave the people leaderless, like a flock of sheep without a shepherd. And after that he quietly retreated from the world stage without fanfare. There were no honor guards, eulogies, or twenty-one-gun salutes. He was buried alone with only God in attendance. The needs of the people always superseded his own.
A more contemporary example of a world leader’s subordination to a cause is Nelson Mandela. Although at the age of eighty he could easily have ran for reelection as president of South Africa and won, instead he stepped down in favor of younger leadership that would better serve the purposes of his country and his cause. Mandela never made the mistake of believing, that he and the country were synonymous. On the contrary, Mandela gave his life to his people and then silently retreated from power.
By contrast I offer the example of Margaret Thatcher. A great leader in her time, she possessed the courage and assertiveness to save Britain from a continuing downward economic spiral. However, when her sell-by-date came she wouldn’t stand down gracefully and had to be forced out. Although she saved the country and was much admired while in office, history will forever debate whether she was good for Britain or not. Indeed, there is a general feeling that while she started out serving the interests of her country, she ended up placing her own interests first. And the proof: she just couldn’t let go.
It is our insecurities that drive us to treat things like possessions.