This essay has been taken from my archives. It was written in the fall of 2006, as part of my college applications. It’s fun to see that the whole “change the world” thread of my philosophy can really be traced back a LONG way in my personal history…
My historical role model of a leader is Alexander the Great. Not only because we share a name and age, but because I believe we share perspectives.
Firstly, he was “Great” not because he was king or general, but because he simply strived to be the best at everything he did. As the old saying goes: “if you’re going to do something, do it right”—if not, there is no reason for doing it otherwise. I suppose that was part of his philosophical learnings from Aristotle.
Secondly, he was a good and successful leader not because of the many battles he won, but because he cared for his people. That’s set clear with his actions in the aftermath of battles; most generals, like his own father Phillip II, feasted after victory, but Alexander helped the wounded and paid tribute to those killed in the battlefield, including his enemies. He did because he wanted and felt bound to. As Socrates stated, ethics is more than “good and evil”—it’s about turning your duty into a will.
His concern for the people becomes more obvious when one analyzes the motivations for his military conquests. At first look, his war campaigns would point out that he wanted more power, more glory, and to enlarge a kingdom that was already an empire. However, with a deeper judgement, the true intention (or at least the real product) of his deeds reveals itself: he seeked the expansion of a culture, not an empire. To support this claim, there was the existence of Alexandria, declared cultural capital of that time with its legendary library.
With his military campaigns, Alexander achieved primarily two objectives: he established a kind of peace that allowed science and arts to develop, since most people then could devote themselves to these matters instead of focusing on those of war and destruction; and he got to spread the helenistic culture throughout all of the known ancient world.
He even improved helenism by fusing in it the best traits and knowledge of the other conquered civilizations. Those conquered were treated as importantly as those originally Macedonian or Greek (without taking into account the slavery customs of the era), by respecting these civilizations’ religions and traditions. He had more of an “including” policy than an imposing one, which was a great political maneuver that allowed him to keep relative “good control” over new territories.
Alexander was able, even if it was only for a short period and with ups and downs, to bring the world together and to a new cultural level.
These are basically all the leader features that I admire from Alexander the Great, and which I try to emulate day-by-day; from his mentality towards success, passing through his care for humanity, and wrapping up with the idea that tolerance and the developing of culture (arts and sciences) are the relevant keys to an ultimate goal: a better, united world.