‘Hey, whose going to be the leader if you’re leaving,’ one of the girls called anxiously as her pigtails bounced. My daughter at age seven diligently appointed a leader and climbed into the car ready to depart from school while I stifle a smile, my desire to laugh out loud and the urge to roll my eyes. Not only did she have to make the decision, she already had a full five year plan on who was going to be the leader of their little primary school group of friends as they transitioned from grade one to grade five.A plan which she diligently followed as she got older and threw her support behind whomever was allocated ‘the leader’ for that particular year. A plan which regularly provided me with high levels of amusement as she faithfully talked about the leader over the years not realising that she was orchestrating the dynamics of the group from the back.
A plan that still makes me chuckle to this day and I periodically remind her about.
To her credit, she strove to be faithful and fair to all the members of the group; an endeavour that did make me somewhat proud of the person she is.
When I started this blog, it was my hope that people would follow ideas and not the person behind the scenes and thus deliberately left my name out of the site. And while I do understand the hesitancy..., a great deal of hesitancy, I would like to know why is it that we follow people we perceive to know because we simply recognise their face from some magazine, seen them somewhere, or admire their talents, or they hold a position of power, etc,
Or why is it we are much more willing to follow people who simply tell us what it is we would like to hear instead of the truth or what we need to hear.
We seem content to settle for an illusion of knowing someone rather than an understanding of what that person stands for or represents.
I worry about this concept of ‘follow...’ The word has come to represent a passive activity despite its active contribution towards some of the greatest human rights violations and atrocities in history. Its passivity allows events to happen that never would have if people understood that following should essentially be an active activity. An activity whereby one should continually evaluate the vision and merits of the person being followed and as a result, makes an active decision to put their support behind that person because they agree with what the person stands for and what they intend to achieve.And so the tendency to passively follow is perpetuating a language and a culture of power. We follow people because of their monetary worth, beauty, status, position, or what we stand to gain by aligning ourselves with those who hold a degree of power due to circumstance; ... a circumstance subject to change.
I, the chronic sceptic that I am, cannot imagine placing my support behind someone who has no vision of what they intend to achieve and who leverages their ‘power over’ instead of seeing value in anyone else... simply because they hold a position of power (for the moment).So rooted deeply in my cynicism, I am in search of a leader... one who has a vision for this country. Someone who holds fast to the principle that humanity has value by virtue of it being a common humanity; a leader whose moral compass is not shifted by the relativity of the time and who stands for something worth standing for and not the accumulation of personal wealth and power.
A leader whose absence seems to be increasingly apparent...An absence that active followers and general citizens should become increasingly concerned about... because it is seldom leaders who pay for their mistakes, but rather the followers who take the brunt of their leader’s poor decisions.
Just ask those at Marikana...