“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will police the police themselves?” ~Juvenal
What do we do when power corrupts, as it tends to? What do we do in the face of tyrannical governments, uncontrollably oppressive dictatorships, and police or judicial corruption and overreach? What do we do with the rampant soft slavery that surrounds us? Do we just shrug our shoulders and trust in the chain of obedience, even though the chain of obedience is the source of the problem? Do we just indifferently bury our head in the sand and hope that the Powers That Be protect our asses while we’re and blinded by our faith in the system?
Governing the precept that humans are fallible, imperfect, and prone to make mistakes, especially when it comes to power, it stands to reason that confiding in a system made up of humans wielding power is absurd. It’s circular reasoning at its worst. As Edward Abbey wisely surmised, “Since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.” Indeed. So, it stands to reason that attempting to lead (rule) ourselves (despite our personal failures) is superior to allowing others to lead (rule) us (since power tends to corrupt).
Common sense, right? Not so fast. As Will Rogers famously quipped, “Common sense ain’t so common.” People are unlikely to question a system they’ve been indoctrinated into accepting, even if that system goes against common sense, the golden rule, and the non-aggression principle. People are more likely to stick to what they’ve been conditioned to believe. Whether that belief is political or religious or both.
Overcoming this takes a particular flavor of courage that doesn’t readily exist in the average person.It’s a kind of courage that must be birthed through great psychological pain and suffering, usually at the death of one’s innocence. It must be nursed and cultivated daily, lest it slip back into passivity or back into typical, ineffective, and outdated modes of courage. It must be guided by a unique and daring flavor of leadership: a radical leadership that audaciously checks and balances constructs of power and teaches others how to do the same.
“We are all born free and spend a lifetime becoming slaves to our own false truths.” ~Atticus
Radical leadership begins by overcoming false truths. A false truth is any belief that is deemed invalid according to cosmic law. It’s our responsibility alone to figure this out. Nobody else can do it for us. We may get lucky and have a teacher/leader who guides us toward a truth that is deemed valid according to cosmic law, but we should not count on getting so lucky. It’s our responsibility alone to question what we’ve been taught, no matter how wise or enlightened our teachers/leaders seem to be. Because, at the end of the day, even our teachers/leaders are fallible human beings. And even the wisest and most enlightened among them are still susceptible to the seductive lure of power. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
It is for that reason that Nature itself is usually a better teacher/leader than almost any human. Even better: teachers who are in touch with Nature. Of course, as children, we have no choice but to go along with whatever agenda our parents/teachers/leaders have set out for us. But there will come a time later, usually after we’ve left home, when that agenda/belief must be questioned. It may turn out that, upon questioning these agendas/beliefs to the nth degree, they come out the other side of the “cocoon” as worthy and valid of cosmic truth. But this will usually not be the case. And that’s okay. Because then we’ll have more reason than ever to become free.
What’s crucial to understand is that freedom is almost entirely psychological in nature. In today’s day and age, it is less about breaking free physically (from hard overt slavery), and more about breaking free psychologically (from soft covert slavery). Breaking free psychologically is astronomically more difficult than breaking away physically, because it is all done inside us. Deep inside us, where our demons, repressed shadows and cognitive dissonance are all tangled up in a knot that seems impossible to untie. That’s where radical leadership comes in…