Thursday, March 19, 2009

A True and Great Leader

A friend asked me the other day to name the person, outside of God or somebody from the Scriptures or my family, who I would most like to spend some time with. After verifying that it could be somebody who is no longer living, I answered “King Hussein.” My friend responded back “oh yeah.” People who know me have heard me talk about His Majesty King Hussein.

My admiration for the King does not really have anything to do with political ideology. It has to do with the kind of leader that he was. It was blatantly obvious to me, and to most anybody who spent any time really doing their research on him, that he loved God, his family, his people and peace.

King Hussein was a man who truly loved and lived his religion. I had the honor and privilege of being in Jordan in 1997, while he was still alive. In Amman we were able to go to the visitor’s portion of his palace. Inside there were pictures of him as he was going on the pilgrimage to Mecca. I loved the pictures, he had such a serene and happy countenance in them. The King also recognized the importance of religion as a whole, and respected other faiths. He was the only leader in the Middle East that actually allowed missionary work from my Church.

King Hussein dearly loved his family. I recently completed the autobiography by his wife, Her Majesty Queen Noor. It was lovely to get kind of an inside view into their family life. He loved being with his children especially.

King Hussein loved his people, and they loved him back. While in Jordan our tour guide told us a story about one of his friends. The King had a policy on Friday’s (the Muslim holy day) that citizens were invited to the palace to express their desires to the King. Well, this gentleman had a daughter who was gravely ill and required heart surgery. He could not afford the care that his daughter needed. He went to the palace where he was greeted by the guards who asked if they could be of help. The gentleman said no, that he needed to speak directly to the King. The guards took him to see the King where he explained the situation. King Hussein than instructed him to take his daughter to a certain hospital on a certain day. When the gentleman and his daughter arrived she not only got the needed medical treatment, but was also treated like a princess. I’m sure there were countless other stories like that.

I tell people that outside of the United States, Jordan is my favorite country. There was a feeling of freedom there, you could almost feel it in the air. Actually one of the things that I tell people was different there was the driving. I had spent time both in Israel and in Egypt. Jordan was by far the safest and most orderly as far as driving. Queen Noor was American born and was actually influential in encouraging more democracy there. While there I heard and saw the love that the people had for their King. It was almost tangible.

King Hussein’s dream was for peace in his area of the world. It was something he continued to work tirelessly for throughout his reign. There were definitely some years that he got a bad rap in the media, imagine that the media actually distorting our views of a good person. But, all along his desire was for peace. It turns out that many Israeli’s love King Hussein too, for the work that he did with their Prime Minister Rabin. The world might be a different place if those 2 wonderful and inspired men were still around.

I was serving a mission for my Church when King Hussein passed away. I was in the United States, but as a missionary we were not all that in touch with the news. I found out that he had passed away in a grocery store seeing it on a magazine cover. It broke my heart. But, I was so caught up in my missionary work that I did not really feel the full effects of it.

I said before that I recently finished Queen Noor’s autobiography. I was surprised by my reaction to it. Through her insight I got to experience what I had not really before, his passing. I admit I cried like a baby. I really love that man and I miss him.

What I wouldn’t give for leaders like that. It would be lovely for the love of God, family, nation and peace to be blatantly obvious. I don’t doubt that many of our nations’ leaders do love all those things, but it feels like too many love power and money.

I hope our country can look to Jordan as the ally they should be in the process of peace. By all accounts King Abdullah is much like his father. He did not expect to be named King, and I think that he maintains a humble disposition and a love for God, family, nation and peace.

Thanks for reading about one of my heroes.

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