I am at the foot of a bridge, more ready than ever to cross, less likely to turn back. Yet there is doubt, fear of what I would leave behind.
A few months ago I read an article regarding how Obama could not be the great president that America needed. In times of crisis, the world needs a great leader. But if we study the history of great leaders in times of crisis and change, is Obama too sane to be that great leader? If history is any indication, then perhaps the work of Ghaemi would prove to be sound – that, great leaders with a touch of mental illness tend to be more preferable. Specifically, he believes that mental illness confers its sufferer with 4 traits that are critically useful in times of change: realism, empathy, creativity and resilience.
In his first book: A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the links between leadership and mental illness, Harvard Professor Ghaemi has made this study more compelling when he exposes the profile of such people: Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ted Turner, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
According to him mentally sane people tend to be more trusting, less paranoid, and overly optimistic.
“Mentally healthy leaders also tend to be less creative (think Richard Nixon) and less emphatic (think George W. Bush). By contrast, few would deny that Gandhi and King were among the most creative and emphatic leaders in the history of the modern world.”
Mentally unhealthy leaders, I think, tend to take in information very differently, to suit their own depressive realism. But these information do more good to mentally ill leaders than the mentally sane, because the mentally healthy leaders would be too sane, too equal to be able to do anything.
Information makes the sane more vulnerable, more oppressed, and chained. It deforms us more than it informs.
Mental illness is a gift, I think, when one develops it from first being mentally healthy. I don’t see it as an illness – perhaps in this way I am slightly ill myself.
Should I take from others who can take from others, and give to others who cannot take? Should I disregard situations, and harden this humanely soft spot that lies in the fabrics of my being?
I’d be cruel, and relentless at times. Yet I would be loving, emphatic, kind. I would be all that my soul is.
And I would sleep each night feeding myself with the illusion that we cannot help everyone yet, and that if we stayed behind to be with them because we are like them and we want to help and protect, then we too would be food. That life never give us what we cannot fix. That taking from those who can take is all right because it could teach them something, possibly. Life is, after all, easier to learn through hardship.
Society lives on the belief that we can live solely on doing good. But when the time comes, when we must carry a gun and shoot our neighbor to save our child – our neighbor who have played his role so righteously, caringly, who has fed, and loved and lived for those around him. Can you accept that?
So I am at that bridge. I seek opinions but I will give no voice. If I crossed over, to live life with little regards for anyone but my own beliefs and virtues, to depend solely on faith on my humanity to guide me.. would that be all right, mother? Father?
What would I be?
Note: I was reminded of the need for a decision to this from a set of lyrics my friend posted from a song my mother loved, and I have kept this hidden away in the corners of my mind for too long.
The more we take, the less we become.