All societies are either in ascendency or decline. They’re never standing still, though most people are not aware of the shifts taking place beneath them. They’re too busy running in place to notice what’s really happening on a level of soul.
The ascendency of societies is always slow and arduous. People feel the possibilities and strive towards them, but they don’t know why. The decline is sudden and devastating. They know what is happening, but they don’t feel it. The dark eyes of destiny start to cast a spell upon society. Those in power refuse to bow in reverence to inevitable forces of the universe … instead they kneel before the forces in their own universe of power. Eventually the forces of the universe prevail, overwhelming old leaders with a deluge of change. Then it’s too late. They usually fail to perceive the root causes of change soon enough.
Old and cunning leaders ply their faculties towards the understanding the inner workings of the systems that govern their lives. They rely upon these systems for their authority and cling to their myths as if they were truths. They seek to consolidate control over citizens by bending their systems and their myths towards their own ends.
New and charismatic leaders instead tap into swells of energy that are rising within the citizenry, and seek to break down those systems that have been used for self aggrandizement at the expense of common purpose. These are the contending forces of change …. always pushing against each other … in a constant struggle for power.
History doesn’t hedge its bets. When it arrives at an inflection point, it acts swiftly and with a vengeance. The symptoms of the eventual decline are clear only from hindsight, hidden from the common view. During the period leading up to decline leaders bicker, barter and blame each other. They seek to summon courage, but true courage is off limits to those who are only acting out their roles of leadership, spewing forth talking points rather than truly leading. The passing order, for a time, tries to negotiate with history, but it can’t stem the tide of change.
Gradually the old leaders squander the trust they have held in their accounts of power, until those coffers of trust are empty. Then it becomes clear to Everybody that the old leaders can’t be trusted to govern the country in a responsible manner. Anybody can see it. Somebody steps forward, and Nobody takes charge.
In other words, leadership matters especially in times of inchoate change. In the sweep of history, it’s always the citizenry … with their courage … their outrage … and their new ideas that force the hands of history. Then new, once faceless, leaders emerge from the chaos … more closely aligned with the forces of destiny.
Take, for example, The Land of Iz…