By Kerri Romeo
Alice finally reaches Wonderland and finds herself in a group discussion (a caucus) with some of the Wonderland creatures to determine how they were all going to get dry after their unexpected swim in Alice’s pool of tears. Who will make the best leader to keep everyone from catching a cold?
Interestingly Alice had led the group to shore (after initially looking for help to find the way), but an argument with the Lory counts her out. The Lory’s “winning” argument:
`I am older than you, and must know better’ ~ the Lory (from Alice in Wonderland, Chapter III)
(Note – His age was never actually confirmed. It seems Wonderland didn’t have fact checkers like we do today).
The Mouse arrogantly announced `Sit down, all of you, and listen to me! I’ll soon make you dry enough!’ before carrying on with a speech that his audience did find boring, but didn’t leave them any drier.
Each creature has a disparaging comment or judgement about the other and yet nobody had a solution. It is enough to give one a flashback to the democratic debate stage in 2019.
We have made our way through an incredibly long presidential election process (so long it makes you wonder if voter fatigue is the objective), heard talking points from candidates not unlike the Lory and the Mouse’s (whether it be the argument that being fully entrenched in the political system is the most viable qualification or empty speeches that don’t actually address the real issues or telling everyone how wonderful they are with nothing to substantiate their claims) and watched as candidates tore one another down to “earn” our vote for the nomination and then rally for us to unite (by vote shaming). It all seems…logical, right? Not even in Wonderland!
Back in Wonderland they found their leader in the underdog of all the creatures, the Dodo, when he suggested taking action with a caucus-race (which involved a chaotic 30 minutes of all the creatures running around). It may have been unorthodox, but it took into account the issue and resolved it, which is more than what our leaders offer today.
At last the Dodo said, `Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.’ (Including Alice who was presented with her prize, a thimble, from her own pocket).
Critics get stuck on the idea of everyone winning the Dodo’s caucus-race, but wasn’t that the point? Everyone was supposed to get dry. The Dodo never designated only a select few to dry off. Our presidential election campaign (sometimes referred to as the Presidential Race) is also misunderstood as a ‘win or lose’ competition. But aren’t WE ALL supposed to win? Isn’t our elected leader meant to represent the greater good for all of US? Our leadership choices today have proven to be less than effective at helping us all ‘dry off.’
What defines a leader? We describe the characteristics of a leader in words: Wisdom, integrity, compassion and vision seem to be some of the most common. And yet our leaders today rarely exhibit any of these qualities. Why?
What if the question was not about our leaders at all. What if the question was about us? Who do WE want to be? Are we the unlikely leaders and heroes? Sometimes leaders don’t make the history books or become household names. Does that make us any less of a leader?
If WE are primarily motivated by financial success, material comforts and convenience, our life choices and leadership will reflect that (Amazon, pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industries and corporate-minded politicians are more than happy to abide). If WE don’t have a vision for what we want we will view anything out of the ordinary as a threat (Bernie Sanders and Marianne Williamson showed us an alternative. We see how that went). And if our empathy and compassion only runs skin deep so will our leadership.
Most of us are just trying to survive and comfort and convenience may seem too much to sacrifice all at once. But we can begin with vision by listening and learning what leadership looks like outside the political mainstream like Maxima:
We can listen to the stories of others like Tricia’s to develop empathy and to break through our misunderstandings about other people’s circumstances:
And we can give voice to those who have been silenced and survived like Coco Berthmann:
Once we realize WE have the power to change everything, we all win. And the award will be all our own.
Victoria asks Jesse about our need to look up to a leader in Episode 21 of “Ask Jesse”
“We want to teach our children to grow up to be leaders and that is good. But what kinds of leaders? Leaders who exploit great masses of people so that the standard of living of their own people can remain high? Leaders who increase a financial bottom line at the expense of human and natural resources? Or do we want to raise our children to rise up in their time…? ~ Marianne Williams (from Healing the Soul of America, Chapter 9)
Learn more about the Dodo in the next installment of The Wonderland Campaign series: Myth or Legend.
Kerri is an advocate for the introverted activist. Often at a loss for words in person, she writes to make sense of the world and connect with others. She wishes for more curiosity & kindness in the world.