The real Monkey Business
“Don’t be a follower, don’t look for a leader. If he could lead you into the promised land, he could lead you out. Do your own thinking […] And learn, instead, to think of the leaders in the same way as they think of you. That would be progress.”
I don’t know what is about us (as humanity) that makes us want to be lead by someone. Some alpha-monkey-protocol we just can’t seem to shake. For some reason the urge find the biggest, meanest baboon and thrust upon him the laurels of leadership, is still quite strong.
As an aside. I was mauled by a baboon once. I blundered into a troop, I was about ten years old maybe. As I turned to flee and one of the big males sunk his jaws into the back of my calf. Really ruined my day and left me permanently weary of simians. Not that I begrudge that particular primate. He was just doing what he thought he needed to do.
I find it interesting how we have evolved though. We don’t choose the best of us to represent us anymore. We choose… really weird people. From the old and infirm to the crazed and overweight. And for some reason we like to pick from a tiny minority of ‘professional’ leaders, often having to choose the ‘best’ one from a bad bunch. Nowhere else in our lives do we have such low standards. It seems unlikely that I would ‘hire’ the better of two really terrible surgeons to operate on me. (unless there really was no one else)
Our deep desire to please our ‘team’ makes us reticent to speak out, even though deep down most of us harbor deep misgivings about politics and our chosen monkey.
Of course if we had to lead ourselves it would be much harder to blame-shift and grouse about our own failings. It is… less cathartic to hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Obviously I have no idea how we move on from this. I am hopeful that it will happen, eventually, after all we threw off the yoke of monarchy once. Well… some of us. I think this will likely be harder though since we have been convinced for so long that we need representatives and managers or everything will fall apart and our societies will implode.
Our leaders after all emancipate the poor from poverty. Keep our corporations from exploiting us. Protect our environment. Facilitate trade, peace and prosperity among our neighbors. They manage our money efficiently to provide us protection (from one another), healthcare and the all important road. All done with a smile and a deep sense of duty. Except we pay people to do this job. Often mind boggling sums of money with no expectation of competence or proficiency and whose personal machinations are often in no way aligned with the society within which they operate.
It’s a supremely strange set up.