There’s a peculiar, but worldwide, obsession with and respect for leaders of nations. Why? What good do they do?
If we look at history, ancient and modern, we find leaders have taken their nations into war, most often to increase the size of the region over which they hold power. Does such action benefit the people of these nations? Almost never.
It’s an unfortunate fact that the majority of those who lead are either narcissists or sociopaths. Rarely does a modest individual, someone who genuinely cares about the society in which they live, become a leader.
Leaders take us into war. They build empires for their own gratification; empires that rarely serve the interests of those who do the fighting or those the ‘winning’ side subjugates.
Leaders cause division in society, pitting people against each other in order to gratify their need for conflict to support their desperation for rule.
Leaders accrue great wealth, often stolen from those they lead, gained through corruption, fraud and underhand practices.
Leaders are, in short, bad for us.
So, why do we continue to place them in positions of power?
We’re descended from a branch of the primates that generally existed with a strong male who fought and bullied his way to the top in order to procreate with the females and thereby spread his genes. If that alpha male became ill or grew old, he was superseded by the next bully. It was, and still is, the way most troops of primates survived.
But is this a good or sensible pattern for modern, sophisticated, civilised humans to follow? Does it have benefits, or even relevance, in the modern world?
There are, of course, historical social reasons for the rise of the leader. In ancient times, when resources grew scarce it became necessary for survival to take what could be had from other tribes. Leaders were seen as necessary then. Although it’s probable more people would’ve benefitted if a system of sharing could have been devised instead.
We’re fast approaching a dangerous time in our evolution as a species. There’s serious danger of climatic change that will disrupt food production. Our success as a species has allowed us to breed far faster than our infrastructure can properly cope with, and we’re rapidly reaching a point where there will simply be too many people for our overloaded systems to manage. As the world becomes a smaller place due to changes in transport and communication, and large movements of different culture groups move from one place to another, we face increasing expressions of fear as nations strive to protect their boundaries and traditions.
Leaders have thus far failed to deal with these social anxieties in a way that might alleviate them. In fact, many have actively encouraged the right wing and fascist inclinations of isolationists as a way of helping these leaders to bolster support in troubled times. Thus, we have Trump elected in the USA on a programme of racial hatred and retreat from socially responsible worldwide groups involved in trying to alleviate climate change. We have a Conservative Government in the UK, bent on promoting the interests of the wealthy and commercially powerful at the expense of everyone else. And there’s a rise of right wing politics in Europe.
These isolationist tendencies have been allowed to arise through the neglect of leaders who’ve failed to address very real fears and threats perceived by their citizens as fundamental to their way of life.
Leaders have, yet again, let ordinary people down.
So, what’s the alternative?
Many, many years ago, there was a rallying cry that galvanised the movement for early democracy. ‘No taxation without representation’ brought together those who actually made the goods and provided the services to eventually form democracies to replace dictatorships and monarchies.
The essential word in that slogan that drove such change is ‘representation’. Those we elect, whether in Parliament, Congress, National Assembly or some alternatively named governmental body, are there as our REPRESENTATIVES. We elect representatives. Only those who’ve been so elected then decide to have leaders and put in place those they deem most suitable, even though they may seem the opposite to many of us. That’s a process over which we have minimal control. And it’s an unfortunate fact that power-seekers are generally the least qualified to lead.
Power, along with wealth, heroin and nicotine, is vigorously addictive. The more someone has, the more they desire. And, under our current systems, the voters, the taxpayers, the makers and doers, have little or no ability to unseat an unsuitable leader until they’ve served their term. In some nations, even the ending of an official term means nothing and the leader remains in power regardless of the wishes of those he or she is actually supposed to serve.
So, here’s a small suggestion, but one which may, over time, result in a real change. I propose that we, all of us, now refer to our MPs, Congressmen, or whatever title your politicians adopt, as REPRESENTATIVES. Always call them by that name. Remind them they serve us. We pay their wages. They are our servants, not our leaders. Think of them as representatives, consider them servants.
Over time, we’ll change both our own attitudes and those of the people we choose to represent us. Instead of world leaders, we’ll put in place a group of national representatives who actually do the bidding of those who elected them.
If you think there’s merit in this idea, or you simply want to increase the scope of the discussion, please spread the word and share this post, along with your comments, as widely as possible. Change through public opinion has been shown to work eventually, so let’s get this going for our own sakes and that of our children.
It only takes the silence of good people to allow the evil others will do.