Leaders and Followers

“It looks like Old Man Winter has moved on, “ I said to my friend Campbell or Camp for sort, who was already settled in at our usual table, scanning a newspaper. “Anything new?”

“Just the usual chaos and tweets from the throne out of the White House. It’s pathetic really, but look no further than the populist win in Italy. Maybe it’s time for a revolution but this time it looks like the revolution is coming from the right. Protectionism, fear of foreigners, ‘not in my backyard’, bigger missiles out of Moscow, trade wars and military parades from Washington and ‘serious concern’ from Ottawa .”

“Yeah, it’s disconcerting ,” I said, but I put my hope in the youth. Any positive change will come from the millenials with the help of their mothers. The age of the Old White Man will soon come to a timely and biological end.”

“Nationalism is on the rise, from the USA to Britain, from Italy to Austria.. Only New Zealand and Switzerland are social democracies it seems, where the common good and disinterest comes before personal satisfaction and where compassion and altruism are still desirable virtues.”

“It all comes down to leadership,” I said. “It’s the art of motivating people towards a common goal. A good leader is able to inspire others and communicate in a way that engages them to follow and act on his or her behalf..”

“That pretty well includes everybody from Ghengis Khan to Trump, and all the bad guys in between,” Camp retorted, “ a good leader is honest and inspires trust and respect, not fear and loathing and is good for the community and the greater good not just hubris and self-aggrandisation and conquest.”

“A modicum of humility doesn’t hurt either. Sounds to me like you would make a good leader,” I said.

“I may have the ideas and skills but I don’t have the personality and most importantly I don’t like being in the cross-hairs of public opinion. I like to be on the sidelines, watching the parade, not leading it.”

“So you’re not going to run for mayor? That would be a shame Camp. You wouldn’t be on TV or in need of a bodyguard and press secretary. It would double your income and you already spend a lot of time advocating for our little town.”

“Is this an official endorsement or did Muriel talk to Clare ?”

“Clare did say to me that you would be a good and honest mayor and a benefit to our community.”

“I could use the extra money but that would be a bad motivator. There are few good leaders but legions of followers. There is also the head bull or sheep who leads the whole herd over the cliff as Hitler did, or there is the leader who brings his flock from the dark into the light like Mandela.”

“Yes, but there are thousands of community leaders from teachers to nurses, from volunteers to small town mayors who do not shake up the world but make a difference in their community or even family. Not every leader has to be a pope or a king, a conqueror or a billionaire and you don’t have to be Mahatma Ghandi or Mother Theresa. Just be Campbell for Mayor. Integrity, Honesty, Humility.”

“Yeah, you forgot: Broke, Old and likes Beer.”

“Not the worst of attributes. Better than: Rich, Old and likes young girls.”

“You’re right about one thing. This world is in dire need of some visionary leadership and I don’t mean only the political kind, I’m talking about the environment, food politics, resource management and equality for all. There are plenty of eager followers, looking for direction and inspiration. I know what you’re saying. We have many bright minds who know what’s good for us but more often than not they are silenced and even killed. These days the power is in the hands of a few with the most money and people power is suppressed and manipulated at every level, from the voting booth to the class room.”

“Yes, but Camp all the information, good and bad, is out there, on the internet, in the libraries, even in the pubs. I have great faith in our youth. They may not have the best music but they do have the best communication tools. Like Vicky here. I bet you she knows more about the state of the world than both of us with all our books and old ideas.

“You two fellows watched the Oscars last Sunday?”

Both Camp and I looked at each other and shook our heads.

“The ‘Shape of Water’ was filmed in Hamilton and Toronto, and won four awards and Frances McDormand gave the best acceptance speech in years. Two more pints for the road?”

“See what I mean,” I said as Vicky went to fetch our refills.


















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