As I spend time in spiritual groups, and with religious, scientific or just common people, I notice a recurring trend. People tend to elect leaders that represent their goals, ambitions, expectations, and place these leaders essentially on a pedestal. Whether it is a political leader, a religious leader, a scientific leader, these people are often credited with abnormal, if not even super-human attributes, are viewed as somehow better or superior to the norm, and are in some cases adulated and adored.
This practice is dangerous in so many different levels. First and foremost, when we externalize our idealizations, we place a disproportionate amount of power on that person. We subtly and unconsciously start relegating important decisions, choices, and even conclusions and moral standards on this one person. Secondly, since we idealize this person into an image we construct about her of what we want to believe, the moment this person fails to meet our expectations, or falls to regular human standards, we are shocked and disdained, going from an extreme adulation to a demonization of the same person.
As human beings we all posses faculties of perception, reason, analytic, logic, intuition, compassion, understanding, modelling, feeling. We all have an internal guidance system composed of our brain, nervous system and body, that tells what's right from wrong, what's true from false, what is good from bad. This is not necessarily absolute, it can differ from person to person, but the main point is that we all, inherently have this system. When we chose to externalize such abilities on someone external, we relegate our reasoning, our feeling, our perception, our conclusion to that person. What we are in fact doing is we are giving up our humanness for someone else. We give up our responsibility towards ourself and the world. It is easier to let someone else take the burden of this work, but it comes with a very high cost.
We've all seen what people with too much power, money, influence, connections, can do. We've seen political leaders tear down countries, CEO's destroy the environment, religious leaders repress people. The truth is that no human is capable or ever should take responsibility for so many others, nor is it their job. Every person is fully equipped with a brain and a guidance system for a good reason, and that reason does not include putting it in stand-by or repressing it. Yet a lot of people do. A lot of people actually discard their own feelings, go against their own moral judgement and ignore their own reasoning for the group, or for a something greater than them.
I'm not suggesting that you should never be inspired, guided, or take advice from any other. That implies that you take their perspective in order to enrich your own, and then still use your own senses to draw your decisions. I'm suggesting not to externalize this decision process in itself.
I've seen this in religion, science, politics, industry, academia. I don't believe there is an area on this planet that is completely immune to this. I see people believing an illusion so as not to face the consequence of reality. I see people fantasizing the ideal in order not to have to work with the non-ideal. This will not lead to anywhere but disillusionment. At some point your leader will make a mistake, will fail your super-expectations, and you will be wondering why your world has collapsed. Well, it hasn't. It has simply kept its natural pattern, which lacked your responsibility in bettering it.
Let's start empowering ourselves instead. Let's be our own leader. Let's all do our own research, introspection, analysis, reasoning, feeling. Let's be the scientist, the critic, the guru. Your humanity is the most precious thing you have. Don't give it up to someone else.