What makes a leader? How do you get to be one? Can it be taught? Is it imbedded in our DNA?
The world is desperate for leaders who put the good of mankind and country before their own welfare. Never mind looking in the usual places for leadership. Politicians run for office to get privileges and money, churches turn a blind eye to corruption that might affect membership rolls, organizations are all about money. Any sense of right and wrong is pre-empted by the same old greed and self-interest that permeates all out most trusted institutions. This lack of integrity has contaminated every part of our life, even our athletes. Every day we hear new evidence that Greed and Personal Pleasure, which have become the religion we use to plan our daily lives, has brought about yet another betrayal.
So who is going to declare the new standard and lead us out of this mess?
Are leaders born or created? What do they have, either good or evil in their character, which motivates humans to follow them blindly, even to their own destruction? Can we teach this or does it just happen? That is why somebody has to write this book. The research will be exhausting, because facts don't exist. Academics will come up with theories, for sure, like, "it's all about character. Moral strength produces leaders."
No it doesn't. Joseph Stalin, Charles Manson, Adolph Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte didn't have much character to be admired, yet something compelled thousands to follow their lead. Indeed, short, homely Adolph Hitler didn't, himself, understand why he got the results he did.
Jesus Christ and The Prophet Mohammad changed the world with their message. Why did people listen? Was it as simple as telling the masses what they needed to hear at that time?
On the other hand, why did all those people drink that poisoned Kool Aid? I doubt that it was Jim Jones God-inspired goodness that brought it about.
What was the common denominator that made these men leaders?
To find the answers we have to return to a study of the nature of man. From the beginning, we've been evolving into basically a herd animal. We must have a leader to tell us what to do. Our DNA dictates that we follow anyone who will lead us that comfort zone where we're assured happiness if we simply conform.
It isn't the philosophers who will rescue us from the mess we've made of the planet, but the social anthropologists. It is time they explained us to us. A good place to begin is the "Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry," by Harry Stack Sullivan, MD, the most brilliant theorist this country has ever produced. He explains how we get to be human.
Clearly it doesn't matter where we're being led--into war, or murder, or a jungle hut, or a religious belief, as long as the leadership is firm. We hate uncertainty. We hate questions. We'll deny truth to the bitter end.
So, you see, somebody has to write this book before it's too late.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Friday, October 5, 2012
In an online discussion in another group I frequent, the question was asked, “How much research do you do for fiction?” My answer was a lot, because I’m an information junkie and the challenge of learning something new is what gets me going. In the October issue of The Writer, Author Tayari jones is quoted as saying, “I believe you should always write a book you’re not quite good enough to write.” I would agree and add, “and don’t know enough to write.” Where else is the fun?
I’m working on a time travel romance. My heroine is renting a haunted beach house in New Jersey to recover from a shattering divorce. She falls in love with the house ghost, a captain on a whaling ship, and is transported to 1860s New Bedford, MA. This not only required hours of searching the internet for theories on time travel, but visits to the library to gather information on whaling. Fascinating, but brutal. I got to know Moby Dick, which maybe my favorite novel. I adore Ishmael’s humor.
My latest novel, Maddie’s Choice, which is in the capable hands of my agent, Jeanie Pantelakis of Sullivan Maxx Agency, waiting for publication, is about modern-day cattle rustling from small family farms in Arkansas, inspired by a short newspaper article.
What if there’s this small farming community in Arkansas being plagued by rustlers? What if the rustling was a distraction to cover up the real problem of meth distribution I the area? Aha! I needed romance. You can read about the plot on http://www.sillivanmaxx.com
The problem was, I didn’t know squat about cows and didn’t know anybody who had one. I also didn’t know anything about meth except that I live in a tourist town and it’s a problem. I learned from the local police chief that meth trade in the US is controlled by several motorcycle gangs, like the Hell’s Angels, who’d just visited Eureka and got into a knife fight with their Arkansas counterpart. Oh boy! I’ll call them “The Red Hand,” vicious, and dangerous and a threat to the ranch.
I had this idea that Maddie, my writer, would be rescued from above gang during a gun battle, by a 2500 pound bull addicted to the chocolate bars she’d been feeding him.
Can a cow eat a candy bar? They don’t have any teeth. I’ll end this story by telling you how I found out. The County Agricultural Agent is probably still ROFL. I called him and explained my problem. I’ve experienced stunned silence before, but this one, on the phone, was classic. My northern accent didn’t help. Well, after enduring his humor, I learned that yes, they can sort of mash it on the roof of their mouth before they send it to one of their stomachs. I was good to go. Big’un, the bull, became a star.
I added a lot of humor, a few tears, some steamy sex, and there you have it. Some day it will be on bookshelves everywhere.
So there you have it. Half the fun of writing is tackling a subject foreign to you and becoming well-versed.