Dedicated to Long Island Pete, whose leadership has served me all the years I’ve been sober: 24 as of today.
A monkey can be a leader. But only with a certain understanding can he or she provide leadership. Whether that skill is in a monkey’s tool kit I can’t say, but it sure is in ours. Every one of us can contribute leadership to our relationships, our workplace, our community––more and better all the time. And whenever we do, the world is healthier for it.
“Leader” is simply a position one is given, or assumes––oftentimes by default, if, say, you happen to be the founder of an organization. “Leader” may make you the boss, but it doesn’t necessarily make you worthy of followers.
When I run the world someone in charge of a television program is going to insist to prospective sponsors that all advertisements must meet the gratitude test: i.e., first among most viewers’ responses is the feeling of “Yess” in thanks for the rare and precious gift of respect for their heart and mind.
I know it’s a crazy idea, since it would eliminate all but a teeny fraction of the messages ever created for television (or any other medium, for that matter), but what the heck. The result would be a lively gallery of expression, from the hilarious to the heartbreaking, each one arresting, emotionally powerful, meaningful and memorable.
What prompts this revere is a candidate for such a collection: the “God Made a Farmer” spot for Dodge Ram trucks that aired during the 2013 Super Bowl. I doubt I’m the only person who finds this commercial noteworthy, since, during the first week after its broadcast, it was viewed ten million times on YouTube.
In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?
It is said that the Hebrew Talmud and the Kabbalah speak of 36 righteous people for whose sake God keeps the world alive, even in the most barbarous of times. Evidently, none of the 36 knows that they are one of the righteous, nor does anyone else because the three dozen names can be found only on God’s private speed-dial. The most important question about this story to me is why it exists in the first place, and why the universe has planted it in such sacred tomes, thereby making it an unavoidable presence in human consciousness for a long, long time. What’s the point? How is the story supposed to serve us?