In an era in which we’re witnessing the damaging impacts of globalisation, tawdry politics and a scandal-driven media, the kind of moral and intellectual guidance that Leonard so unselfconsciously offered is becoming ever more rare – and therefore ever more precious.
Leonard’s life offers a model for the type of self-sacrificing leadership needed to educate and inspire, in the broadest sense, the entire global community, to provide a sense of inclusion – a civil society with roots. It provides in all of us the possibility that we can broaden our horizons in such a way as to develop and expand our ambitions for society.
I know from the time I spent with him that Leonard understood that the concept of self-improvement embraces not only greater knowledge and the empathy that can come with it; but even more crucially, the ability to extend our value system – to strengthen our character, to improve our generosity of spirit, and to promote a greater willingness to give as well as take.
We need the example, and the inspiration, of remarkable people like Leonard to create a sustainable vision for our society. Leonard had his own belief in the power of community, which he expressed, rather wonderfully, in the following passage:
‘Man is not just a lonely individual, he is an integral and necessary part of humanity. His lifelong struggle towards self-realisation and perfection are not solely for his own benefit, but for that of the “human family”.
What individual man has to achieve in respect of his own person, mankind has also to achieve for itself.’
Now more than ever, each of us needs to the cling to that, or some similar vision. A vision which can inspire our work and illuminate our passage into the uncertain, unpredictable, and potentially volatile decade that lies ahead – helping to create a genuinely empathetic and inclusive society in our own country, in Europe, and across the world.
We need the example, and the inspiration, of remarkable people like Leonard to create a sustainable vision for our society.