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to teach and to lead…

June 29, 2015

Putin. Harper. Obama. And all the rest of those crazy motherfuckers…

That there are much better ways to organize a culture than by having the masses follow a single charismatic leader is revealed in any first-year university PoliSci class. Plato was identifying problems with this approach to political organization 2500 years ago.

But History has repeatedly shown that the people want what the people want – sheep always need the protection of the shepherd – and so, we turn to Pope Francis and listen as he delivers his thoughts on what many people are hoping to be an Encyclical for a radical new way to deal with global warming.

In the days that followed there was the requisite media frenzy (the same media that 40 years would have ignored anything any pope had to say) – our government has yet to make an official reply – TV talking heads already at exhaustion over the Charleston shooting drank even more espresso and talked themselves into a deeper ever more manic exhaustion over the Pope’s declaration that “yes, we are indeed treating the planet like a piece of shit”. (I may be paraphrasing.)

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We thought we had found this Charismatic Shepherd in Barack Obama – but as we watched while he okay’d the continued use of torture – while he bailed out the criminals on Wall Street and created a fake universal healthcare system (actually designed by Wall Street) – continued to drag America through foreign wars – gave America over to the fracking industry – and now, as he approves oil drilling in the Arctic – we know we have not found that good man.

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Some people tried to look to Angela Merkel to get us out of this economic mess. Alas, she wants to use science and common sense – so she sounds a bit hysterical to our North American ear. And she dresses like a fuddy duddy.

Some of the intelligent money is on guys like Elon Musk – the head of Tesla, and the big money he is putting behind the new solar batteries that are going to revolutionize the world. (P.S. buy Solarcity stock now! It will be the Apple of the future.*)  ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKORsrlN-2k )

I know we can’t help ourselves when it comes to our salvational idolatry. We want our charismatic leaders.

To teach and to lead! To inspire.

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After 5 decades on the planet I would have to say that I think our fear of intellectually going-it-alone (as in to think for ourselves – to think new ways of living and co-existing) is deeply rooted in our DNA.

The vast majority of us fear change at the very core of our being.

Why else would we flock to the suburbs, to church doctrines, to Jurassic Park 4?

Go to any first year soc/anthropology/politics/gender studies class and you will quickly discover that we are taught how to think – we are taught how to organize ourselves – we are taught how to think about ourselves – and that teaching is always done at the behest of dominant power structures that need to perpetuate the status quo.

How about breaking out of the old status quo – how about going back – read a couple of the classics on our notions of political freedom and our obedience to authority. Challenge yourself to break out of old molds you may never realize you conform to…

“Man, the more he gains freedom in the sense of emerging from the original oneness with man and nature and the more he becomes an “individual,” has no choice but to unite himself with the world in the spontaneity of love and productive work or else to seek a kind of security by such ties with the world as destroys his freedom and the integrity of his individual self.”   

Any attempt at real freedom brings about two emotional states for the modern person: an increased feeling of strength and at the same time an increased isolation, doubt, skepticism: and – resulting from all these – anxiety.

“We are fascinated by the growth of freedom from powers outside of ourselves and are blinded to the fact that inner restraints, compulsions, and fears, which tend to undermine the meaning of the victories freedom has won against its traditional enemies.” 

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If you are unfamiliar with the infamous Stanley Milgram experiments of the 1960’s – which revealed just how deeply embedded is our need to obey authority figures – I strongly recommend you read this book and check out the accompanying documentary that was made. ( a quick clip on youtube will get you started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCVlI-_4GZQ)

Milgram proved – over a wide group of people, from all walks of life – that “behavior that is unthinkable in an individual who is acting on his own may be executed without hesitation when carried out under orders.”

“The essence of obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view himself as the instrument for carrying out another person’s wishes, and he therefore no longer regards hiself as responsible for his actions. Once this critical shift of viewpoint has occurred in the person, all of the essential features of obedience follow.”

* Financial return not guaranteed in the global apocalypse.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Marcia Weiner permalink
    June 29, 2015 11:24 am

    A wonderful blog. A reminder of such fundamental things.

    Thanks,

    Marcia

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