Offbeat 23 May 2014
Now imagine an adult playing toy soldiers or dolls with a bunch of real people to make a happy reality for himself or herself. What’s so wrong with reality according to the rest of everybody? What’s wrong with my own reality?
I remember the school prayer well. It went “Yadda yadda yadda yadda. Yadda yadda yadda yadda. Oh Lord let me not bend my knee before willful might. Yadda yadda yadda yadda. Amen.” It was a cool prayer, one of the best ever.
Looking back, I understand the intent perfectly. There was a lot of willful might running around in brown uniforms, most of it with guns and some of it with stupid moustaches. God’s natural choice was the 13th tribe of Israel and segregation was a virtue right up there with misogyny. The school I went to was mixed, and the concept of it was unpopular.
The teachers might have explained the reference a little bit better and said, “Die Boere wil djulle amal downdruk, so God help us all en bid ordentlik, hoor djulle.” We would have understood that, gotten angry for a bit, then gone back to being willful on our own behalf. Instead we took it to heart and gave the teachers a bit of a harder time. They were, after all, the closest example of willful might that we could see.
Obviously that one line stayed with me, standing head and shoulders above all the yadda. In fact it coloured my entire existence. I cannot hear the words ‘obedience’ and ‘leadership’, or even ‘presteer’, but that line wells up in my head and I get the urge to spray graffiti on a passing teacher.
Having managed to learn a bit about emotional intelligence since the end of adolescence, I have spent a bit of time analysing my feelings on the matter and I know why they are valid. Simply put. I do not need to be led, and especially not by someone who has the desire to be a leader.
Personally, I think the desire to lead people is a bit unwholesome. It feels to me that someone who wants to tell a whole bunch of other people what to do is probably quite insecure in the first place.
Imagine if you will the child playing with toy soldiers or dolls. That child is constructing a reality in play. The reality is one that makes the child happiest. Now imagine an adult playing toy soldiers or dolls with a bunch of real people to make a happy reality for himself or herself. What’s so wrong with reality according to the rest of everybody? What’s wrong with my own reality?
Don’t mistake me for an anarchist though.
I have every respect for a reluctant leader. In fact I might just go along with the plan out of sympathy. I’m a sucker for stress, rings under the eyes, trembling hands and ulcers.
I can also easily throw my weight behind someone who actually takes up a leadership role because he or she wants to help people, to serve. There aren’t enough people who understand that leadership can be the responsibility that comes with service.
I look on managers as my best friends. They are there to make sure that I know enough to be able to get the job done, and that I have what I need to get the job done. Good managers are my buddies and, if need be, I will do everything in my power to make sure that they can be my buddies even if it means I have to instruct them to give me instructions.
As I sit and think about it, I am ungovernable by virtue of the fact that I govern myself.
The funny thing is that people are conflicted about leadership. Leadership consists of getting people to do what needs doing because, most of the time, it is impossible to do everything alone. People have an inherent desire for order, and leaders give that order, so they seem to flourish under leadership. Yet at the same time people have a tendency to reject leadership, to resent it. In some ways, I suppose the mantle of leadership comes with the knowledge that someone will try to resist you and head off in a different direction.
Perhaps there is some kind of system in this thing, akin to the sacrificial king. If not for the resistance there would be absolute power and the leader could drift into the realm of benevolent despotism. And if not for the resistance of someone’s desire to ‘rather do it this way’ new ideas might not be tested and be accepted.
I will not bend my knee before willful might.