1. Marcia, I love the analogy of the symphony. It reminds me also of other big musical teams, like marching bands, and Dr. King’s famous words about the drum major instinct. Our tendency to put ourselves first, be the leader of the pack, is easy as breathing. I recently saw the MLK Memorial, which I loved, but some of the controversy about it gets at what you’re discussing. They excerpted part of his speech on the side of his monument –“I was a drum major for peace, justuce, righteousness…”–and Maya Angelou said that quote makes it sound like he was all about himself. I can see her point: the context goes something like, IF you want to say anything about me, say I was a drum major for peace…” The whole idea of a memorial for one man when King was part of the huge Movement…I think this speaks to our human tendency to want to deify one person. We are an individualist culture and love telling stories of the power of one. The Lone Ranger is our compelling hero in all things. We don’t get excited about collective action and consensus building in quite the same way.


    1. Marcia

      Thank you, Lyn. The example you share is a good one. I have to agree with Maya Angelou. The balance is it that it did take someone like Dr. King putting himself on the line for the movement perhaps to move ahead. Leadership does matter–and he made the ultimate sacrifice. At the same time, he was surrounded by people who gave their lives for the movement in different ways. I think you hit it on the head when you say “we don’t get excited about collective action and consensus.” At the same time we see new paradigms emerging in things like the occupy movement and new models of adaptive leadership. Many massive shifts going on these days. Maybe some idolizing tendencies will be disrupted. Thank you again for adding your voice to the conversation.


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