People are really not good, Melissa.
A friend I greatly admire recently said the above to me. Of late, I cannot deny the truth in her statement. Especially not now. My recent experiences called to mind the Biblical idiom of wolves* in sheep’s clothing. Some people take great pains to appear good and decent, but are, in reality, not. Treachery, it seems, isn’t something abhorrent to some people. Or, more accurately, one person’s treachery is another person’s “cost of doing business.” How can one keep positive and optimistic in a viper pit? (Yes, I’m mixing my metaphors here.)
I have no answers. Apart from simply carrying on, despite the pain and the misery.
Taking this metaphor even further is the idea of wolves in shepherd’s clothing. This seems to be more apropos to my current predicament. I also think of this as a cautionary tale (for myself). In the capacities I have as formal and informal leader of one professional librarian committee or another, I shall never forget that the leader-follower relationship is, first and foremost, one of mutual trust and responsibility. I aim to deserve to be followed.
But if the one above me doesn’t think these are significant rules-of-(work)-engagement, what then? Apparently, I’m supposed to kowtow, scrape, and swear allegiance to those with larger salaries, bigger titles, and more authority than me. Do any of these negate the three-fold leadership dimensions of follower trust? Nyah-uh. Certainly not! All I will say to attempts to sell me on it is, “I’ll have none of that, thankyouverymuch.”
I am learning, in a rather rude way, that there are a lot of people who do live their lives in compartments. This includes groups of people, such as those who pat themselves on the back because they passed laws for equality. And trite as it may be, there is just no getting around the need for critical reflection in the face of cultural incompetence (of one’s own or others’). We live in a world where the ground you stand on matters to how you see everything. If I don’t know where I am standing, it’ll be easier for me to put on a woolen cap and cape and bite the heads off of those whom I’m supposed to care for and protect.
*I apologize to all wolves everywhere. By calling to mind these old metaphors and aphorisms, I am surely perpetuating the negative stereotype of the duplicitous, dangerous wolf. I mean no offense.
And, just because I like this so much, I leave you with this: