Tuesday, September 30, 2008

With great power comes great responsibility

Everything is neutral. It's what you do with it that matters. I was going to dedicate this post to financial scandals past and present, but I figure enough's been said (and will be said) about this topic. Instead, I'm going to talk about charisma, for it seems that all these CEO's and politicians have the charisma to get their dreams off the ground. Charisma is an incredible thing, but like everything, it is neutral. Your course is determined how you use your charisma; for good, for ill, or for good-intention-that-becomes-ill. Some people, like JFK and Hugh Hefner, had and have enormous amounts of charisma. Some people, like yours truly, have barely enough to be noticed. Most people have it in the amounts that are just right for them, and they do well enough with what they have.
Charisma can and usually does bring dreams into being. Whether it's political, financial, or even spiritual, if you have someone charismatic at the head of it, it usually comes to pass. How many uncharismatic men have become President? Paul in the New Testament had tons of charisma, and look what he did to get Christianity off the ground. And don't forget the men like John Law, Paracelsus, Leonardo da Vinci, and countless folk who made history while they were still alive. How many of them were lacking in charisma? Can one put a number to all the dreams that would have died at birth had it not been for charismatic minds? I can assure you that it would be a very high number indeed.
However, with such power comes great responsibility, and not everyone has been ready for such responsibility. How many personality cults have crashed and burned because a charismatic leader, whether through his own deep-set flaws or through criminal behaviour, created a frightful chain of events? Jamestown, the Branch Davidians, and Heaven's Gate, for starters. Jim Jones was one of the most charismatic of men before he became isolated and let his demons out to play. David Koresh was very similar to Jones, in a way. And then there's Charles Manson, but enough has been said about him to fill a hundred volumes (be they paper volumes or computer volumes).
Finally, the sinister dealings of Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken, and Robert Maxwell are other examples of charisma gone horribly wrong. I was inspired to write about charisma after reading a book about the crashes of the late 1990's, and the company the author chose to use as an example this crash reminded me of how charisma can go wrong. If not used wisely, crashes and deaths can occur. Luckily, I don't have that kind of charisma that would lead me to start a company or a cult. One less thing for folks to worry about. Have a good evening.


Red Eyes said...


Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget the words of your post and I'am glad I came by this blog. What an interesting post. I dont think one needs charisma to start a cult or have followers but I think you have just gained yourself a reader or follower in the parlance of blogging.

Also, I see you are a salmon rushdie fan as well. I'm reading presently one of his books, the satanic verses, have you completed it and what do you think of it?

I would like to return here if you do feel a counter visit is worth a bit of your time considering your deadline?

My compliments.

L.B. said...

Hi red eyes
Salman Rushdie is, without a doubt, one of the greats. If you have the time, be sure to read his book 'Shame'. To my mind, there are no real heroes in that book.
If you want a view of India by other pair of eyes, check out Rohinton Mistry's 'Such a long journey'.