Today I read this article about leaderless movements like Occupy Wall Street. The article itself doesn’t quite deliver on its promise (“The history of leaderless movements”), but it got me thinking.
When’s the last time you were part of a leaderless movement? Can you remember? No guru, no one spokesperson, no one hero or “example”?
Some of you were probably part of such a movement, but you didn’t notice. That’s because we are blind to it. We think that movements need leaders, or they can’t go anywhere, right? I mean, if there is no leader then who is the movement going to follow?
But a following is not a movement. It’s a mob.
Oftentimes people regale me with stories of brilliant and wise or exceptionally good people. I always thought, hey, kudos to them. But now that I’m in this “let’s move” mode, when most of my conscious thought is driven by The Work that is Urgent, I’ve become mentally allergic to such stories. People on the pedestal are anathema to the empowerment of the many, of all. They are the ideal we can’t attain. They also absolve us of our own empowerment and decision making, and all that comes with it, like responsibility and sacrifice.
Now I know why I am drawn to that saying: we are the people we’ve been waiting for! “We”: you and I, all of us, we’re all heroes. We should be.
All we need to do is move. Move ourselves.
I realize that when I introduce Transition, I usually invoke Rob Hopkins. Though I try to stress that he’s a normal person like you and I, I still always end up implying that he’s a saint. I’m going to quit that. I’m going to stress: Transition is what *you* do, when you volunteer to restore that apple orchard, when you grow your own food, when you walk or bike instead of drive, etc.
The movement is not in or because of Rob Hopkins. Or Richard Heinberg or Joel Salatin or Bill McKibben. Yes, they are exceptional people, or rather, they have an exceptional grasp of what is going on and what we need to do. Yes, we should listen to what they have to say.
But they must not be our leaders. If they are, then it’s not us, moving, making a movement, leading ourselves. We can adopt their ideas, their principles, but real, lasting action will only come out of that if we make them our own.