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What does it mean to be a leader? Do you need power over millions like Hitler during world war 2, or is leadership a position earned not given? To even further the complexity of the question, what does it mean to lead effectively? This part of the mission statement had the greatest impact and resonating effect on how I live at Wabash. Through the use of Martin Luther King Jr., The Modern Prometheus, and Rabbit Proof Fences I hope to grasp the slightest understanding of what it means to demonstrate effective leadership even in the face of adversity. By finding examples from the texts and films I plan to analyze the key elements found among natural leaders and what they do so effectively.
Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the greatest influential and powerful speakers of the twentieth century, his nonviolent protests and leadership skills led the African Americans during the civil rights movement. During our time in enduring questions MLK was the topic of our early discussions. The opposition he faced was immense, and yet even in these troubling times he found courage to stand for justice among blacks. One of the first times we met for EQ we watched an interview with Meet the Press: MLK, in this talk MLK was pitted against four men who questioned his motives. The normal person would have trouble answering any of these loaded questions without losing patience, but MLK kept collected and answered with knowledge. Through his responses Dr. King was able to gain even more acclaim to his already stellar career. Much like MLK another figure who dealt with opposition on a daily basis was Jesus when dealing with the Pharisees. The Pharisees clashed against followers of Christ and made it difficult to live normal lives, similar to the conflict blacks were having with white segregators. The situations are rather similar and even more how both reacted, MLK was able to give answers that stumped the people who questioned his motives. And looking at the time when the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus looking for answers, Jesus responds in a way where the Pharisees cannot comeback with anything to respond. One conversation pulled from the interview was, “Isn’t this an indication that the sit-in strikes are doing the race, the Negro race, more harm than good? (King 428)” to which MLK responds, “Now, I do not think this movement is setting us back or making enemies; it’s causing numerous people all over the nation, and in the South in particular, to reevaluate the stereotypes that they have developed concerning Negroes, so that it has an educational value, and I think in the long run it will transform the whole of American society. (King 428)” By setting this standard he wants to prove he will not back down in the face of adversity. Even the former president Truman was against him and yet he trudged on. The characteristics of a leader are very evident in how MLK presents himself with his speaking and his actions. Regardless of how many people are against him he knew there was a goal to reach, something ahead, maybe not a clear end but a vision of a greater future. His use of non-violent protests also added to his resume, his people were beaten, murdered, mocked, and many other atrocities. People may wonder why follow a person who can endanger their life, MLK offered something people would die for, much like the deep rooted patriotism to die for our country in war, there was an emotional call to aid MLK during the civil rights movement. This power to persuade not only his followers but of those who despised him shows just how great he was at leading effectively, as his words still ring on to this day.
Next I will be talking about an anti-hero, someone who could have used leadership effectively but failed and as a result, ruined the lives of not only himself but those who loved him. Victor as we know was a curious kid growing up, and through multiple years of research developed a way to reanimate life. Frankenstein’s monster was created, but there seemed to be no motive behind the creation, only to make the monster but did not think any further. Victor even surprised himself when the monster came to life because he had doubted his work for so long. But at that given moment Victor had two choices, he could either bring up the monster with good morals or freak out and disown it. As we know, the monster flees from Victor, an innocent creation left out from society to fend for itself. With no leader the monster learned from what it experienced, harshness, anger, brutality, and sadness. As stated earlier, this novel works as a testament of how not to lead others. As if a generation issue, Victor also had leadership problems. Growing up he hardly got to interact and develop a close relationship with his parents, as a result he put his time into other things.
After rejecting the monster and ruining his life Victor can only feel responsible for his actions. By not becoming a leader or a much needed parental figure, you create an unstable environment and inhibit growth. Of course the monster did not have to become evil but what choice does one have when nobody accepts him and everyone despises it. Victor and the monster relate to a person who made his own biography/novel, A Child Called It. In it a child is abused and tortured throughout his early childhood, never having a stable background or leadership and despite all the negatives, the man goes on to become a leader. How come certain situations that have similar starts end so differently? From the way I look at it there are two perspectives people have on life. It can either get better, or it can get worse. The monster through multiple rejections only learned hate and as a result got worse, but in the case of the child who was abused he only saw the good and how life will get better. Although perspective is the main core of this comparison I do believe leadership is important among both accounts. To illustrate leadership even greater I will now cover another way it is done.
Leading effectively is doing the right thing regardless of who is watching. Taking a stand or action that leads to a positive result. In Rabbit Proof Fences, the theme of leading is also apparent, as one girl must lead her sister and cousin home. On the way split second decisions by Molly kept the tracker off them. Like in the movie I also think a great leader to be effective needs to be able to react and respond under pressure. As mentioned earlier I believe a place of leadership is to be earned, not given. An old saying I’ve heard, if a man says “I am a king” in fact he is no king. Meaning you can’t just take a leadership position and expect people to respect and work for you, it is developed over years of bonding with people. Or in times of despair when one person must step up in a crisis to become someone others can look to, as seen in Rabbit Proof Fence.
As I reflect on how leading effectively has changed how I think it opens up more questions on how others view me. My dream is to somehow be in a role of leadership, whether in politics or running a company, or even educating others. But in order to have that ability there has to be a development along the way. I intend to further my leadership skills through Wabash, and becoming involved with the community as a whole. It would sound cliche to just become involved, so rather I will focus on growing in certain aspects. These places of intended growth are among the wrestlers, by being a good example of what to do on and off the mat and creating a positive environment where athletes can grow. Another place is church, by working with young kids I can slowly build necessary leadership tools to then make a positive impact on their lives. Last of all my I hope to increase my involvement within clubs and school organizations. The leaders of our student body are considered the Sphinx club members, and although I have no intentions to join, I would still like to bring a voice and become a leader for our WAR council.
In conclusion by being a leader you represent a greater group and are held at a different level of responsibility. Some may embrace the opportunity like Dr. King, while others like Victor shy away. As for me I hope to be like Molly so that in my four short years become a strong and effective leader for our community.
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