The Insecure Security of Leadership

I am often prompted to respond in verse to things that others write. I did so this morning after reading a LinkedIn post from a New York correspondent concerning a 16-year-old thrill-seeker who breached security by walking past a sleeping guard to climb the spire of the One World Trade Centre in New York City last week. The author wrote that in a post-9/11 world the incident “must inspire renewed vigilance”. No doubt, but vigilance about what? If New York security guards are anything like those in my own country, as I suspect, they are not exactly paid the best or supported with the most inspiring leadership. They are, instead, at the bottom of the security heap employed far more for show than substance. Before I knew it, therefore, the following poem (polished a little) had rippled from my fingers to be posted in response….


Wow, I do so love such audacity
By this young thrill seeker in NYC
Who climbed the spire of One World Trade Centre
To kick off a storm; it must be better—
The security at WTC!

You say it’s a matter of vigilance,
That this is the key to your own defence.
But what must you be vigilant about?
Think carefully about this before the rout,
‘Cause it’s more than merely mending the fence.

As I stop to ponder how it could be
About this thing we call security
I can’t help asking what it’s all about
Is it the systems, the muscle, the clout?
No, this is the question that comes to me…

Why are you Americans so paranoid?
This question, I find, is hard to avoid.
You seem so scared of your very own shadow
As you push along your security barrow;
The tighter it is the more you’re annoyed

When lapses reveal it’s the weakest links
That show your security has many kinks
Despite billions spent on great armaments
That seem such a waste in the argument—
Security’s not about things; it’s how one thinks.

When push comes to shove its not about might
And it doesn’t help being uptight.
The weakest link is all about people,
How good the leadership—strong or feeble?
How well people are paid to do things right.

Security guards are paid least of all.
They’re treated as low-lifes. It does appall
To see security so poorly built
On a fragile base when the real culprit
Lies elsewhere. Look up, it’s the leaders’ gall.

So stop to think and thank this unlikely lad
Who revealed to you the thing most sad—
That for all your huff, puff, bluff and bluster
Your weakest link is but a feather duster
In a system that’s really gone a bit mad.


1 Comment

  • bob mckerrow says:

    This is just brilliant writing. I can see you have been thinking about this for a very long time, years or even decades. And what I love is that you clearly take your time to write with care and great thought. The whole thing sings of quality. The ideas are fabulous, the style crisp and clear. All I can say is- Wow, thanks!

    Keep up the good work.

    Your good friend, Bob.

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