THE BLOG
11/19/2013 06:58 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

The Mayor of Mayors

I never thought I wanted to be mayor until last week.

With the recent elections of mayors in different cities, scandals anew and realization of the impact of mayors nationwide, maybe we all should consider becoming mayors!

Some people may be thinking, "If I cannot become mayor of a city, perhaps I can become a foursquare mayor!" In this fast-growing social networking site, when you "check in" more than anyone else to a particular venue in the previous 60 days, you will be crowned "mayor."

Last week, I learned that you do not need to be elected to be mayor nor to be plugged in to Foursquare to be a mayor. We can all be mayors. Allow me to explain.

I just returned from a trip to Israel. One of the highlights was a visit to a museum in Holon, outside of Tel Aviv, with an exhibit called "Dialogue in the Dark." The idea behind the exhibit is to simulate blindness. Before entering an array of rooms, the participants are asked to remove all smart phones, glasses, watches and any device that might illuminate. We entered into a world of darkness with only a walking stick and the support of a blind man to navigate us for the next hour. We felt our way through a bedroom, dining room, a boat, and a restaurant where we ordered food and ate in the dark, and much more.

At first the experience was unnerving, but we realized the power of our journey. We gained new appreciation of the gift of sight but we also learned an even more important lesson from our guide.

At the end of our tour, while sitting at tables in the restaurant, he explained that he was a twin whose brother had died at birth. He himself became blind due to an overexposure to oxygen in his incubator. Every day, he travels from Jerusalem to the museum on a mission to serve as a guide with the hope of diminishing prejudices against the blind. He explained, "Soon after you entered the museum, you learned to trust me. I, who am blind, offered you sight. In the broad daylight, you would have seen me and distrusted my ability to support you."

Sometimes in life, we can see but be blind, and those who are blind can truly see.
Then I asked his name. He responded, "Mayor" (in Hebrew, Meir). I understood the message. In English, "mayor" derives from the Latin word maior meaning "great," but in Hebrew the name "meir" means "to bear light" from the root ohr, signifying light. A "meir" is one who illuminates the environment.

Wow! A blind man named Meir is the one who taught me that you do not need to see to enables others to gain insight.

In truth, we can all be a Meir/Mayor. Whether in your home town, your place of work, house of worship or social network, we all bear the responsibility and possess the opportunity to bring some light to our environments and our world. We do not need to be elected nor to "check in" but can rather plug into our innate capacity through an act of kindness, an open heart, or a smile to pierce a corner of darkness and unlock a spirit of light.