Kopaunik: Can Monson fill the shoes of the prophet?

By By Janice Kopaunik

By Janice Kopaunik

The ’70s were crazy times. Besides the “rope smoking” and “free loving,” a nation sought change. Worn out from crooked politics and depraved by war, the nation was prompted to change as the new televised coverage brought instant news of politics and war to its door. In response, the ’70s revolution brought some of the most visionary leaders. Personal beliefs superseded religious affiliation. Political leaders and religious leaders called for change. The people had a voice. Greater world awareness and human rights issues were addressed. The world responded and thrived under the human-concerned leadership. But slowly it faded. Pope John Paul II died, and now we have lost the last great one, Gordon B. Hinckley.

Tolerance and love of thy neighbor have devolved into political buzz phrases. The lessons of the ’70s are being forgotten, but the world still hungers for those ideals. We still gravitate to leaders who promise to be honorable, respectful and steadfast to their beliefs. The religious leaders fit the bill, but the political leaders use the religious facade to imply these ideals.

Hinckley was a great man anyone could respect. He was the type of guy politicians pretend to be. The combination of his wisdom of age and zeal of youth made him the leader the world needed — appealing and inspirational to the masses, regardless of religious beliefs.

Now he has left behind great shoes to fill. The presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is empty. Although ordained by God, working practice has put the longest-standing apostle in the position of acting president to the LDS church, a position of great inspiration and leadership to the world. Unless God decides to go against tradition, Thomas S. Monson is the likely successor. Dedicated to the church, he was one of the youngest leaders called to a position of authority. His life has focused on community service, particularly to the elderly. One highlight on Monson’s résumé (as he likes to remind us) is leadership over a large congregation with an especially high number of widows. In a place to inherit a position of such influence, he emulates the moderate ideals of the past.

Reminiscent of the ’70s, we are again weary of politics, amidst another senseless war, and evolving with revolutionary technology. We are losing the influence of past great leaders. Ever the choice between two evils, political leaders are still untrustworthy and our anger has turned to apathy. Ties and work done by previous leaders are being undone and religion is losing touch with the masses. But hope persists. Society is hungering for a relatable leader to be a binding force with direction, a voice of understanding and tolerance as the world becomes smaller with growing technology.

Does Monson have what it takes to lead a modern, diverse, young crowd? He spent most of his time during the influential ’70s in a church. Can he live up to his predecessor’s legacy, inspiring masses and serving as a living role model to a community of young people?

We need a renewed faith in politics and religion. We need a revolutionary person in a leadership position to get in touch with the hesitant and jaded society. Will Monson be the right person for the job?

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