Every single one of us is guilty of this. It’s in our nature to look to the folks we think know what they’re doing and trust them.
For a very long time, this was the only option. Any time a group of people gets bigger than a large family, say 100 or so, elites or experts or leaders rise, and so do those who are content to follow whatever they say. Some of those, the ones the leaders grow to trust and rely on, will follow any command at all. Even if it’s clearly the wrong thing to do. And for most of human history, those were the ones who had the power–so for the rest, the choice was to comply or resist at the risk of their lives and their families’. Resisting when the stakes are that high, even when you know it’s the right thing to do, takes courage indeed.
Today, though, we have a new option. Today, every one of us has access to almost everybody. Resistance, disagreement, opposition are more important, and carry a greater impact, than ever before in human history. And in most places, it’s no longer a matter of risking our families’ lives to resist authority.
It makes governing and leadership and authority even messier than they were before, because it gives us all a choice to follow or not.
But if we choose not to follow, we need to bear in mind that we need to come up with a better idea. Resisting just because we don’t like where the leader is going doesn’t solve the problem–we have to offer a better way. And having access to almost everybody makes that messy, too. It means we’re going to hear a lot of ideas, and right and wrong can get lost in the noise.
So courage today lies in separating right and wrong from the noise and following what’s right, whether or not it’s what everybody else–or even those folks we’ve chosen to grant authority over us–wants to do.
Again, you can find Seth Godin’s books here.