OPINION: Ego, the death of Democracy in New Zealand

OPINION: Ego, the death of Democracy in New Zealand

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This story was originally written by an outside writer and was shared with thisquality to publish.

OPINION: The events of the last few days and indeed the past few years has got me thinking about how the human condition of ego is so incredibly self-sabotaging. I would have thought that we have evolved past the insecurities and egoistic games that we constantly see playing out in politics of all kinds: in government, in schools, at the workplace, in families, in fact, anywhere you find a group of people who interact with each other. Once the ego engages, discourse becomes monologued, the discussion is turned into confrontation and everything becomes a personal affront.

This whole immature and asinine modus operandi seems to be rife within our concepts of leadership. I view leadership from a point of it being a position of service and nurturing, a position that has the responsibility to edify and9im. support others to rise up, and to find and realize their own leadership potential. A utopian view? Perhaps, but one whose merits and aspirations far exceed those of the currently prevalent model of leadership. There is so much egotistical attachment to leadership in these times, it would seem.

That whole pyramid, authoritarian model of leadership, where there is a need for a benevolent “head” or principal leader or elite group of leaders who think and decide for the rest of the group was born of Feudalism and seems to me, incredibly condescending, redundant and monumentally wasteful. Wasteful of human potential: creativity, critical thinking, innovation, and passion, all of which come with embracing the glorious diversity that makes up humankind. The immaturity of this model is displayed when the collective points its enormous finger at the leader whenever something goes wrong, never shouldering any responsibility or collectively learning the lesson presenting itself.

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The idea of democracy or “rule by the citizens” (its literal translation from the original Greek word) does not have room for the present model of leadership. Even Communism and Socialism haven’t got it right! The cult of personality that has arisen and become our cultural norm is fundamentally grounded in ego and authoritarianism. The fact that people pass over policy for someone they “like” in choosing who will govern them, is a point in fact. Politics rises and falls on the popularity of a certain person, regardless of what the ideologies are behind that figure-head.

History is strewn with examples: Hitler, Churchill, Marx, Bush, Muldoon, Trump, Thatcher…the list is endless. These leaders live and fall by the sword of populism; a phenomenon entirely based on ego: both theirs and their followers’. The shallowness of this form of leadership is what is ultimately the biggest danger. When everything hinges on a person, the stakes become very high and things very precarious and unsustainable; especially considering the frailty and infallibility of people. 

I suggest that there is another way, a more mature and inclusive way, of defining our governance and relationships. A complete paradigm shift, if you will. It will mean a complete demolition of current structures and systems and a monumental revolution in thinking. It will also mean that every individual will have to take on the responsibility of their choices and actions, let go of ego and begin to build meaningful, reciprocal relationships with everyone, even those they do not like.

A truly democratic society will have to let go of the present models of leadership, populism and politics. If we are to “rule” as a people, we MUST grow up and become open to all possibilities but be able to think critically and develop meaningful discourse around the things that really matter. We have to be willing to listen more than we talk; we have to get past our popularistic thinking and work with those we don’t like as well as those we do; we have to work for the better of the collective as well as ourselves, and we have to be willing to step into our own leadership. Yes this utopian dream may be just that at the moment; and yes, not everyone is going to like it; but it is within the realm of possibility, especially if there’s a critical mass following. 

It all begins with us individually. How you conduct yourself and live your life will make a fundamental difference to the collective as individuals join it. Question the status quo. Develop your own leadership paradigms by reading and thinking critically. Action your learning through practicing in your leadership roles, however minor you think they may be.

Become aware of your egotistical foibles and work towards the qualities that will birth the democratic society in which you wish to live. Having said all this, there will be those who cannot see past their ego and will be rolling their eyes and thinking of some flippant or “clever” comeback as they read this. That’s ok, that’s their prerogative! It’s all part of the glorious diversity of humankind. 


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