Last year was tough. Real tough. We suffered through so many hardships and lost so many notable persons. I also noticed that, while we suffered, many of us looked to others to be the hero. Instead of rallying and taking steps to rescue themselves, people wallowed in finger pointing and lamented their fate. People behaved like helpless children relying on their parents to act. And, that reminded me of an episode of The Power Puff Girls, which attempted to teach children to be their own hero, and not rely on anyone to sweep in and rescue them from any situation in which they found themselves. The girls refused to help the people of the city anymore until they helped themselves.
Did we miss this lesson in childhood? Living in America, the creed is one of self-sufficiency and individualism. We believe in taking control, not relinquishing control.
In 41 years of life, I have yet to see the population truly enact that creed. Daily, they give away their power, hoping those they hold on high will grant them their wishes. Certainly, they say they do more than that. They believe they do, and they accuse others of not doing so: living off their tax dollars and that they should just get a job. Then, they proceed to whine about how things are, hating those they’ve put in a position to make change, and how those people have done nothing to do as they expected. Then they go about being independent in superficial ways: shopping, working, voting without research, listening to what the news tells them they should know, and finding their history in movies. But what you never see are these people acting to improve systems that affect their lives daily: joining unions, being stewards, taking leadership roles, reading, and striving to see bias. Instead, they sit back to another beer and bitch about everyone else, most especially leaders and celebrities.
I guess part of the reason is that it takes a serious introspection to undertake action, not to mention the effort of doing the work involved. In my experience, the majority of people want simple answers and little to no work required to achieve their goals, and they definitely do not want to own any blame. If they applied the effort they put into bitching about others or their denial into a task to alleviate hardship or bring about change, the world would be a whole lot less problematic. Their must be some genetic predisposition to it, because trying to change their mind only receives ridicule or anger in response—as if they’re allergic to change.
Do you remember in high school how all those students maligned the smart kids who applied themselves, and bullied them for not conforming to the expected behavior of disinterest and virtual failure? I wasn’t a straight-A student until my graduate courses, mainly because I was so painfully bored by the system of education taking part was painful, and that, in a lot of cases, I was taught by those who weren’t straight-A’s either—but expected responses verbatim to the answer key, and only had the power to pass on their flawed knowledge. Veer off by a word in your answers, and you were just plain wrong. If your choice of vocabulary failed to conform, or reached beyond the capacity of the instructor, you were marked wrong. Students are taught to memorize and repeat without variation. To conform. Ah, but that is probably another thing to write on at a later time.
I am not entirely sure where in academia the students came up with the idea that failing was cool, and succeeding was to be punished. This especially, because they simultaneously celebrated wealth and prestige, and you do not get there without success and brains—unless dad hands you a few million and a successful business to take over. Regardless, that is where the system is at among the younger generations, and these young people grow up to fill roles as voters, workers, leaders and educators. Thus, the cycle repeats.
Perhaps, the desire to conform is where the desire to bitch instead of effect change has come. We’ve always done it this way is more aptly the creed of the United States, as voters continue to repeat the same mistakes, and expect different outcomes—bitch instead of work, and so on. And conformity is backed up by brutal treatment if one errs. (Again, if only the effort put into maintaining the present state of things was employed to better things.) Those who inherit wealth and prestige from family are held in higher esteem than those who worked to get there. Because being born is such hard work, it requires deference.
Did you know that this stems from the belief that God blesses the worthy with wealth and power, a medieval belief that empowered the nobility to maintain their seat of control over everyone else? That’s why people who complain about how much they hate President Obama will kiss his ass when they meet him. He’s ordained by the all powerful. So, if they suck up, they might get rewarded. Never mind how they betray themselves in the exchange (and by betray, I mean, reveal their mendacious personalities). Then, they return home, ready to blame him for everything and anything that goes wrong in their world. Thanks, Obama.
Therefore, there are those who blindly approve of who is in power, denying anything at all that should be called into question, as they strive for these individuals to affect change on their behalf. Ever notice how it doesn’t quite come out the way they had planned? Or, at all? For instance, look at the way Clinton supporters blindly followed her despite all the reason they were handed for once again passing on her as they had in 2008—when an inexperienced Junior Senator made more sense. It was pretty disingenuous of them to say that experience mattered suddenly, eight years later. If experience was such a big deal, then she shouldn’t have been passed the first time by them. I can’t even begin to unravel the convoluted reasoning that was used to support her. It pretty much just boiled down to wanting to elect the first democratic woman president in their lifetimes (which is why republican women weren’t viable, if you’re still asking that). Gender is not a good enough reason to chose a leader. The fact that the one they put forward was riddled with issues, from being one of the most corrupt and hated persons in the United States to an inept speaker, only set up a larger disappointment. But, you couldn’t tell them that. They were all in.
However, those voters will not own the part they played in bringing about the outcome that was achieved. No. That was anyone’s but their fault. If only you had all conformed to this poor choice for a leader, we wouldn’t have a racist, nut sack orange for a commander in chief. Never mind having had the best choice in a very long time right in front of you and spitting on him.
On the left, there were some heartening moments, despite a large group with a maniacal drive for conformity to the middle right, and throwing in behind someone who has never done a thing to help the average person. A large swath of the population got on their feet and started doing the work. They came from all sides, together. Their one mistake: Looking Outside For What Needs To Be Inside. In other words, once more relying on another to affect change on their behalf. So the work was only left half done. But, oh my, what an effort they did make. It was palpable, powerful, and it was nearly successful.
That person, despite the admiration and desperation, continually sent one message: be the change. So many rallied to this, and wanted this, so what happened? The cool kids ensured that the achievers were kept in their place. And in so blocking, their efforts by dismantling or dissipating them, got them something far worse than success: failure. Remember how I said the popular kids strive toward failure, as if it’s their genetics driving them? They’ll burn the village if they can’t maintain the status quo. And, they always blame those they shut down for the aftermath.
Following the defeats of the primaries, and again in the general election, the survivors of that movement, which once looked like it might actually start being the change, thinned to ineffectual clusters. They relied on their chosen one to do the work for them, as they cheered. Some grew angry and let their bitterness poison the remainder. Those willing to work were hobbled by trying to rally the troops to them, instead of charging ahead with or without.
Do you know what makes an effective leader? One who leads, even without followers. Those who do the work with or without help. Those who focus on the goal and work toward it regardless of what is going on around them. Those who balance opposing forces and walk through the fire. That’s why we’re so awestruck by them. That’s a pretty awesome thing to behold in light of all the conformity and back seat driving we’re witness to on a daily basis.
Wouldn’t you rather be that person who did everything in their power to affect change, rather than the one that sat back and watched it happen? Or do you want to be that guy who bitterly recalls the battle and the inevitability of your defeat because of weakness? You can’t own any part of a success that you watched, even if you cheered the leadership. Pat yourself on the back for doing the minimal! NO! You’re gonna have to get off your ass and suck it up.
If you want change, real change, then you are going to have to get up, set down the beer (or wine) and WORK. Life isn’t a spectator sport. No one else can be blamed for the things that you allow to happen because you can’t be bothered to participate. There are very real consequences facing humanity, and no one is going to save us but ourselves, each and everyone.
This is why you’ll repeatedly be disappointed in those you raise up to work on your behalf. For instance, those celebrities we hold on high and later find out are filthy people (sexual predators, cheats, liars, and so on). Why did you think they were pristine? Is it because culture teaches us that God or some other power rewards the worthy? And, at what point do we realize that isn’t true? Four, five, even six, fallen heroes later? When do we stop crying for a hero and realize the hero we are looking for is within us?
Why wait? Start at home. Be the change you want to see in the world.
If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do. – Ghandi
[…] month I wrote about being the hero for which you’ve been waiting. Today, I’d like to talk about fighting dissolution in the face of overwhelming opposition. […]