Yule (b)log 2019

So, this is how this blog first began back in 2014. As a celebration of something. As an enquiry into something that I didn’t quite understand.

I have always loved the Christmas season but was feeling increasingly tired and disappointed with the version of it that I was being offered by the mainstream media. So, I decided that every day of December I would write an entry in which I mused upon some aspect of the festive season.

I have maintained this tradition over the years. It has become a discipline that has borne interesting fruits (for me at least). It has been a record of something but also a driver for change. The blog has recorded a journey that I have been on and it has been the engine that has powered that journey. My life has changed immeasurably since I began writing it. The world has become a far richer and more nuanced place for me. But, in many ways, a far harder place to inhabit. I wasn’t going to bother writing a blog this year. I have got a lot on at the moment and it’s hard work finding the time to write this.

But here I am. Why? Well, it feels like I am on the cusp of significant changes. It feels like the world is on the cusp of significant changes. So, this year I want to use this blog to investigate these changes and the nature of change in general. I can feel already that this is going to be rough and ready in nature. I don’t know what form(s) it will take. Let’s just see.

I do know that I would like it very much if this becomes a conversation. Please take the time to leave a comment if you feel that you can. I really appreciate hearing people’s reactions to my thoughts. It seems to me that too much in our world at the moment is about division, polarities, differences. We desperately need to build connections, start networks, begin conversations. We need to find our common ground or we are lost. I would like it if this blog could be a small part of that.

So, I will begin by making a few observations about the political situation in the UK at the moment. It may not be a wise place to start but there is an element of pinning my colours to the mast at play here. My instinctive orientation is as follows:

I despise Boris Johnson. I do not think that he is an amiable clown. I think that he is ruthless and highly dangerous. To me he represents all that is wrong with British society. He is Prime Minister of our country because he was born into a certain family, a certain section of society which meant that he went to a certain school, a certain university and had access to certain social circles. Moving in these worlds mean that he is close to a certain sort of power. Having been born into these worlds, he assumes that he has a right, obligation, duty even to wield power. But he is a long way from being a natural leader. He has nothing of that natural authority about him. He appears to have a certain charm in the eyes of some but, to my eyes, that is all just an act, a veil, a protection. It protects him from ever having to be honest and authentic. When I look at him I just see a small boy desperate for love and attention. He will say whatever he needs to in order to curry favour, he will tell the biggest lies in order that people will like him, to join his gang. This is not the sort of person you want as a leader.

Have you met people that are leaders? What qualities made them leaders? It is worth thinking about. Some people are put in the position of leadership. These people have power because of their position. It is a fragile power. You may submit to their power because of their position. They may be your boss and you may need your job at this moment in time, so you submit to their power. But they are not a leader. You are submitting to their position. Your submission is an acknowledgement of a certain power relationship at play. This is a very different thing to offering your submission to another person out of choice because you see that they have something to offer you that you value, something that you can learn from them. The submission to the position of power is servile. It diminishes you if you do it. The submission to someone who has something to offer you is an act of respect – which is appropriate.

And a true leader will treat you with equal respect. A true leader does not seek power. A true leader just acts authentically and people are drawn towards that. A true leader knows that they have as much to learn from those around them as they have to offer themselves. True leaders do not even see themselves as leaders. They know that all people are equal. They just do what they have to do. They act in accordance with their true nature. They are authentic. Now, this notion of “authenticity” is a tricky thing. It is very easy to get caught up in all sorts of intellectual knots trying to define it. Better not to overthink it. But, you know, don’t you, when you are behaving authentically? When your behaviour feels right. You feel it in your gut when you have done the “right thing.” Which, sometimes, might be the wrong thing in the eyes of society. sometimes, doing the right thing might mean breaking the law. I have friends who are part of Extinction Rebellion and have been arrested recently for actions which they knew in their guts to be the right thing for them. I think that Extinction Rebellion is a good example of people beginning to find the power in acting authentically. It is no coincidence that the XR movement actively resists having leaders. And Greta Thornberg is a good example of someone that has become a leader without seeking power. She just says what she feels she has to say. She acts authentically and people follow her lead.

If you want to recognise a true leader, look at what happens when they achieve their goals. Do they smile at a job well done and go on their way, or do they hang around, finding new goals, hanging on to their position of power, seduced by the power the position brings? This is a problem for true leaders. It is a problem for the world. People seem to crave leaders. They want to be led. They want to be told what to do. I find this hard to understand but I think that it is the crux of humanity’s problems. I believe that the desire to be led is a shirking of your responsibility as a human being. I believe that our chief responsibility as a human being is to take full responsibility for and ownership of our actions. Which is hard. Really hard. We all make mistakes. I have made some huge ones. But we have to take responsibility for those mistakes. Stop blaming someone else. Stop looking elsewhere for permission or forgiveness. Take hold of your own sovereignty. No leaders. All equal. Make your own choices. Accept your own fate. Create your own future. To me, this is the meaning of Anarchy. Not chaos, but accepting the wonder of your own being and doing all you can to honour the miracle of your existence.

Well, this is not what I expected. I didn’t wake up with a burning desire to declare myself an anarchist or to be debating what makes a true leader. But, here we are. it’s not elegant, but it is a start. let’s see where we go…..

5 comments

  1. On the subject of leaders I couldn’t help draw a comparison to being a leader of horses. Horses, like people are always looking for a leader. The best leader for a horse is, of course, another horse, but in the domestic world horses are, unfortunately, led by humans and sometimes it works and most times it does not.

    The best human leader for a horse is one who understands what motivates a horse and what he desires. When the human has this understanding a willing partnership can develop. What a horse desires is to be led by a human who is kind but firm, consistent and sensitive, humble and sure of himself but not to the point of being cocky. This takes a high level of patience, zero ego, zero anger. I think the qualities of the best leader for a horse is the best leader for people, too.

    People are caught in the web of not being able to discern a bad leader because they have been taught to be nice. To get along. To not trust their instinct. People are also not willing to entertain risk. We, in general, choose that which makes us feel safe even if it’s a bad choice. Horses were led to the slaughter of battle because the cavalry understood the nature of the horse and unscrupulous “leaders” do the same to us. For all the reasons mentioned we let ourselves be led off the cliff.

    The only way out of this is to get educated, get in touch with reality and then be willing to take a risk. I have found that it doesn’t mean give up your family and become a zealot. Actually I have found positive change happens from the little everyday insubordinations performed during business as usual. The waves break the stones down to sand by constantly beating on them a little at a time. Yes, it takes forever but eventually the stones will break.

    Like

    • Wow! So much wisdom and food for thought in what you write here. I agree that we have much to learn from observing animals. And, yes, I also agree that lasting change tends to come slowly. Though, sometimes there are sudden seismic shifts when our whole world changes all at once. Thanks for commenting so thoughtfully.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Leadership from the heart is a message which came to me last week during a meditation. So many leaders have closed hearts…the ones who’s hearts are open, who are in touch with their own humanity and others, those who have compassion and empathy, who make those who they lead feel valued, are the ones who really stand out. Leaders who truly listen and observe and question. Leaders who also know how to take care of themselves, as well as those who they lead.

    Being a leader can be tough, as it comes with responsibility. But a good leader is one who truly inspires and motivates those they lead to do their best, and to grow.

    Liked by 1 person

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