Over the past few days an extraordinary thing has happened online. A small group of people have resolved to try to make a difference by designing and submitting a suggestion for how to capture the oil spilling into the Gulf with a chimney-like duct placed over the LMRP. It’s elegant and maybe it’s even possible, despite the naysaying oil executives who just said they had no plan and no solution for the problem at hand. They even told us they’ve used all available technology, which my friends demonstrate not to be the case at all.
But I digress. This post is not about their efforts. It’s not about the way they set aside their collective egos and came together with an answer that just might work with tools and materials available near the well site. It’s not about dead dolphins and oil-soaked pelicans. It’s not even about stopping the horrendous flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s not about dead zones and press blackouts and whether the polls have Obama up or down today. No, it’s not about any of those.
This post is all about you. Or, I should say, it’s all about the crazy tendency of those on both sides to immediately hate those who try, because they’re not leading the charge. It’s about those who would see others fail rather than letting them lead. It’s about saying rather than doing.
Last month there was a brilliant post on Daily Kos by Troubadour entitled “The Problem With Elena Kagan is That She’s Not You.” Rarely have I seen such well-articulated observations of the human tendency to take potshots at any effort initiated by others.
Government would work better if everyone else just did what you told them. Not a dictatorship, of course – that would be like if someone other than you were in charge. But a healthy representative democracy, where you personally choose who goes to Washington, and closely monitor and direct their every word and movement minute-by-minute lest they start making decisions autonomously like a human being entrusted with responsibilities.
Blogosphere, know thyself.
What’s even worse, you don’t even directly choose certain government positions – e.g., Supreme Court Justices – but rather have to rely on the secondary judgment of elected representatives. People chosen for positions like this are even more grossly tainted by their failure to convincingly pretend to be you, which is their paramount moral duty. They are ripe with the unholy tincture of resulting from a process of deliberation and consultation among several people who are not you rather than the shining wholesomeness of something sprung entirely from your whimsy.
Social networks, behold the truth.
Nothing drove this point home harder and more pointedly than the hatemongering toward a few people who, realizing that BP wasn’t THEM, chose to pool their creativity and effort toward a constructive endeavor, only to be nearly drowned out in public venues by people who were sure — POSITIVE — that they didn’t have a clue because, well, if they did, they might actually accomplish something. And if they accomplished something, then that accomplishment wouldn’t belong to YOU. It would belong to them.
Or, if by some chance there was agreement that it was possible, it couldn’t be possible unless YOU snapped in the final solution. Behold samples of the hive wisdom:
Why would anyone care whatsoever about the #corral hashtag? What good is it doing? None. – DynomiteThings
#corral seems like a lot of people want to get ‘credit’ for having Idea that Saved the World (or at least, the coastline). – ladykayaker
I don’t think anyone has a problem with constructive criticism. Indeed, the comments on the post I wrote about this idea for Crooks and Liars received thoughtful comments from people who actually had a clue about what the group was doing. But the examples above represent many, many others on Twitter and elsewhere. They’re simply nonsensical projections of those who dislike the messenger or any form of leadership. Also? It wasn’t THEM leading the charge.
Between the political discourse of our time and the nattering naysayers, I’m convinced leadership is dead. After all, someone would have to surrender themselves to the status of follower in order to allow a leader to exist. And if that leader isn’t YOU, how can that possibly happen?
Update: For another example of how YOU wouldn’t dare to let YOUR child lead, see this post at BlogHer about the trashing of 16-year old Abby Sunderland and her parents. Because evidently only Sarah Palin should shop reality shows. Heaven forbid we’d see a 16-year old kid actually try something based on what she knows best, be independent, learn the ways of the sea, navigation, mechanics and nature on her own. That would be too much like…raising a leader.
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