What People Teach Us: Merkel/Landrieu – Consider Your Environment Over Your Position

This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed a snap vote in Germany’s Parliament on the legalization of gay marriage, although she opposed the issue based on her beliefs and it was a foregone conclusion that the supporting votes would have the majority.

Regardless of her own personal stance reflected in her “no” vote, and the anti-gay marriage stance of her political party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), gay marriage was legalized by a vote of 393 to 226, as expected, in a legislative body where Merkel’s party holds only 254 of the total 630 seats.

What’s interesting is that although she voted “no” on the issue, Merkel’s tenure to-date has reflected a more liberal-leaning agenda, espousing LGBTQ anti-discrimination efforts, a stronger European Union, and opening Germany’s borders to more refugees in need.

“Respecting the needs of the environment, to move forward effectively rather than pushing for one side or opinion to merely succeed over another, is powerful.”

What’s especially impressive here is that, despite her conviction to her definition of marriage being so strong she voted against the legalization, she respected that the representation in Parliament would lead to an outcome reflecting what was best for the country’s unity and progress.

Regardless of the stark contrast between her personal belief and the outcome of the vote, Merkel stated, “I hope that the vote today not only promotes respect between different opinions but also brings more social cohesion and peace.”

The outcome wasn’t about her winning based on her beliefs in the short-term, but instead about looking ahead to the strength of the evolving society in her country.

It’s refreshing to see a leader embrace a process even if, first, it may be seen as somewhat of a safe political play by some and, second, the result clashes with their own personal views. While some who can influence are hell-bent on pushing through their own political agenda, seemingly operating with unrelenting tunnel vision, others can open their eyes and mind and put country above politics.

Similarly this week, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, while at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, spoke about local politicians stepping up and stepping in when it comes to issues the gridlock or policies in Washington, D.C., may be holding hostage.

“It wasn’t about her winning based on her beliefs in the short-term, but instead about looking ahead to the strength of the evolving society in her country.”

Landrieu explained that sometimes politics have to be put aside to do what’s best, overall, for the communities and that solutions to real, on-the-ground issues need to be found and implemented. He goes on to stress that seeking solutions is not a party affiliation issue but a societal and communal issue.

Landrieu outlined this vision for mayors while he was at the conference where billionaire businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his $200 million philanthropic program, the American Cities Initiatives. The mission of the program is to provide resources to reinforce the impact American cities can make, either in their own communities or on a national or international scale, to do just what Landrieu advocated — stepping in when Washington can’t get out of its own way.

This was a great pledge of resources to support the growing wave of local governments committed to wielding that type of influence, such as those who stated they would still abide by the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement even after President Trump reneged the United States’ commitment to the agreement and withdrew the U.S from the roster of countries committed its goals. (The U.S., Nicaragua, and Syria are now the only three countries not in the agreement.)

In both of these examples, in their own circumstances and covering different issues, each politician moves to work toward what’s best for the citizens and not what the preference is of any political party.

The approach has already played out in Merkel’s case while in the case of the mayors they’re working toward that betterment, and time will tell what the fruit of their labor will be.

Respecting the needs of the environment, to move forward effectively rather than pushing for one side or opinion to merely succeed over another, is powerful.

Dynamics in any given environment may evolve much more quickly than any individual’s own beliefs. Keeping that idea in mind, we should think about the future of our environment and not only of the successes we personally have had or would desire.

Shouldn’t that be the goal? Bringing all the pieces of society together, no matter where you are in the world?

So…What About You?

  • How do you assess your personal needs versus the true needs of the environment?
  • What do you use as a goal – where YOU think the environment can go or where the environment can TRULY go considering the resources available?
  • Have you had such moments, where you respected the outcome even though it clashed with your personal beliefs?

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One Response to What People Teach Us: Merkel/Landrieu – Consider Your Environment Over Your Position

  1. soxhjc says:

    I love this post. Mitch Landrieu is one of my political heroes and his lesson about putting aside politics to focus on what’s really needed continues to resonate with me. Thanks for sharing this.

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