Say it for Valentines Day leader

Two news items came out in the last couple of days concerning religion. One was about the leaders of one religion saying it was against the religion and it was immoral for unmarried people to celebrate Valentines Day as terrible things (my words!) might happen, like kissing and sex. Then two religions are accused of marrying off 13 year-old-girls. Apparently, if it’s within the confines of a religion then it can be moral, if it’s like, not.

Of course religion has no right to own morals any more than I have and one should never be confused with the other. Otherwise, we end up doing all sorts of things from the downright stupid (like not allowing young people to court) to forcing children to marry. Religion might agree with some of my morals, like not stealing, not killing and not perjuring myself. Thankfully in this beautiful country (I’ve just had a late evening walk on Tamaki Drive from St Heliers to Kohimarama which puts the phrase beautiful country in my mind!), most of us realise the difference between morals and man-made rules.

When John Key was asked today at the Big Gay Out if he supported civil unions he refused to answer. It is reported that he voted against the legislation when it was introduced into Parliament. I guess it was a conscience vote, whatever that means. I wonder why he wouldn’t say whether or not he supported it. To at least some of the people there, it is probably important to know what his view is, especially as he had previously voted against it. And he’s the leader of our great country.

If you want to enter into a contract with another person of your own free will, go for it. It’s none of my business and if you don’t kill or steal while you’re doing it, I wish you luck. If you’re a young person and you want to express your love for another person on Valentines Day, go for it. Do the same if you’re older, whether you’re in a contract or not. None of this is my concern. So should we be concerned of a leader who thinks he or she can tell you whether or not you can even do any of these things?

Yes, because, if the answer is no you can’t do it, then we are entitled to ask: Why? A leader, especially a political one, should empower and enable us to live happy and authentic lives. Anything else is a slippery slope to places you don’t want to go. If the answer is no on moral grounds, that’s even more disturbing. What moral? Where could such a thing have come from?

But this is a leadership blog! And I reckon that there is an important leadership question in all of this: say it when it’s important to your followers. Agree with you or not, you’ll be seen as authentic. And if you really don’t want to say, you might like to ask yourself, why not?

Whatever the origins of Valentine, if it’s for you and gives you and your loved one happiness, enjoy. Don’t let anyone stop you. It’s your right to be happy.