In all History courses we reflect on the nature of leadership and its impact on societies through the ages. In particular, Years 9 – 12 have at various times during the year, cause to reflect on the impact of the shift to the dictatorships which occurred globally during the 1930s. There was a common thread to the dictatorships: the charismatic leader who draws energy from an aggrieved majority, singles out and suppresses a minority group as being responsible for all grievances, invests in exacerbating problems and deepening divisions rather than searching for solutions, crushes democratic institutions, and promotes rabid nationalism and violence. The consequences of these dictatorships were, of course, devastating.

There was much rejoicing with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent demise of communism in Eastern Europe, with the number of countries labelling themselves democratic rising from 35 in the 1980s to over 100 by the 1990s. However, today democracy is once again being eroded with 72 nations recording limited freedoms and a decline in democratic health.

This opens discussion on a number of areas including:

Was Jesus the charismatic, strong-man leader typical of dictators, who sought to divide and suppress?

The answer is of course, no. Jesus was the one who dared to speak as no one had done (John 7) and Jesus taught the disciples:

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Jesus’ example to us was one of compassion and kindness. Jesus showed mercy and restored sanity to the man in the cave with the impure spirit, a man feared by others, and Jesus taught his disciples to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 5 and Luke 10).

Is God in control?

Reading Daniel 4 reveals that God is indeed in control.

Nebuchadnezzar marvelled in his power and glory and at the royal dwelling he had built “by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" And look at what happened. Before he had finished speaking God took his kingdom, forced

Nebuchadnezzar to dwell in the fields with the beasts and to eat grass like oxen for 7 years until ‘you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men.’

Nebuchadnezzar’s reason was restored to him when: ‘I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honoured Him Who lives forever: for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation.’

God has dealt with, does deal with and will deal with corrupt leaders.

Will we always see the outworking of this? Perhaps not. However, we keep in mind God’s response to Daniel who, following his visions of end times, asked “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?”
God replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end.” (Daniel 12). God will reveal all in His time.

And we know that while there will be suffering in this world, the end has been decided. Christ conquered death on the cross. He gives us victory over sin and death.

We know there will come a time when ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:12)

And we know there will come a time when ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ (Philippians 2:10-11)

Mrs Narelle Fletcher
History Faculty Head