[It] exists in a society to the degree that those enlisted in its contending interests have a basic minimal regard for each other: one party or interest seeks the defeat of an opposing interest on matters of policy, but at the same time seeks to avoid crushing the opposition, denying the legitimacy of its existence or its values, or inflicting upon it extreme and gratuitous humiliations beyond the substance of the gains that are being sought.
The basic humanity of the opposition is not forgotten; civility is not abandoned; the sense that a community life must be carried on after the acerbic issues of the moment have been fought over and won is seldom very far out of mind; an awareness that the opposition will someday be the government is always present
Our obsession with leadership, of any kind, causes us to build organisations that are utterly dependent on individual initiative. We do not allow them to function as communities. So when they fail, we blame the leader, and seek a better one. Like drug addicts, each time we need a bigger hit.
Consider that ubiquitous organisation chart, with its silly boxes of “top”, and “middle”, and bottom managers. How come we never say “bottom managers”? This is no more than a distorted metaphor. It tells us that we are fixated on who has authority over what and whom. The painting may not be the pipe, but to most of us, the chart has become the organisation.
Isn’t it time to think of our organisations as communities of cooperation, and in so doing put leadership in its place: not gone, but alongside other important social processes.
[O]bsession with leadership is the cause of many of the world’s problems. [L]et us get rid of the cult of leadership, striking at least one blow at our increasing obsession with individuality. Not to create a new cult around distributed leadership, but to recognize that the very use of the word leadership tilts thinking toward the individual and away from the community. We don’t only need better leadership, we also need less leadership.
my advice to you is simple:
find out what you are meant to do and do it,
and find out who you really are, under all the junk that has been attached to you by those who would make you everybody else, and be that.
what you are meant to do and who you really are are not the same thing:
what you’re meant to do is learned, discovered,
but who you really are has always been there — it is a matter of unlearning who you have been told to be, or told you are, or should be,
until all that is left is the knowledge of who you are and always were: nobody but yourself.
Lois is a type — a particularly rare and extraordinary type, but a type nonetheless. She’s the type of person who seems to know everybody, and this type can be found in every walk of life. Someone I met at a wedding (actually, the wedding of the daughter of Lois’s neighbors, the Newbergers) told me that if I ever went to Massapequa I should look up a woman named Marsha, because Marsha was the type of person who knew everybody. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, the word is that a tailor named Charlie Davidson knows everybody. In Houston, I’m told, there is an attorney named Harry Reasoner who knows everybody. There are probably Lois Weisbergs in Akron and Tucson and Paris and in some little town in the Yukon Territory, up by the Arctic Circle.
We’ve all met someone like Lois Weisberg. Yet, although we all know a Lois Weisberg type, we don’t know much about the Lois Weisberg type. Why is it, for example, that these few, select people seem to know everyone and the rest of us don’t? And how important are the people who know everyone?
My Lois is a guy called Jeff. Read this New Yorker piece for more on six degrees of separation
Mohandas K. Gandhi was convinced much of the violence in society and in our personal lives stems from the passive violence that we commit against each other. He described these acts of passive violence as the “Seven Blunders”. Grandfather gave me the list in 1947 just before we left India to return to South Africa where my father, Manilal, Gandhi’s second son, and my mother, Sushila, worked for nonviolent change. In the Indian tradition of adding one’s knowledge to the ancient wisdom being passed on, and in keeping with what Grandfather said and wrote about responsibility, I have added an eighth item to the list of blunders. – Arun Gandhi
- Wealth Without Work
- Pleasure Without Conscience
- Knowledge Without Character
- Commerce Without Morality
- Science Without Humanity
- Worship Without Sacrifice
- Politics Without Principles
- Rights Without Responsibilities