"...they have no sense that they are guardians for an institution the world depends on; they have no consciousness of their larger social role."
I have worked with a great many people in positions of power - political, private-sector, union, etc. Too many of them put their tribal interests before the good of their industry. Some of them don't even care about their own partisan interests; they're in it for themselves. I am seeing an increasing number of these folk either suffer internal strains caused by the dog-eat-dog climate they foster or having their brand tarnished in the grand arena that is social media.
There are others, though, people who do what they do for the right reasons and often take on the narrower objectives of partisanship reluctantly, out of loyalty. Some have gone so far as to internally speak truth to power, only to be censored for doing so by the first bunch. The bravest accept this risk going in, but do what they believe is right regardless. These are the folk that give me hope.
Then, there's us, those that don't sit in the orbit of power. We might be voters, but our votes come only every four years; our capacity to influence is limited. We might be shareholders, but shareholder meetings have limited ability to effect substantial change. We might be union members, but when we're offered limited choices, we can only decide on limited outcomes.
In a recent column, Dan Gardner wrote about the power of social media to connect people. I'll take his direction a bit further down the road; social media doesn't just connect people, it creates stronger, crowd-sourced voices. These voices cannot be ignored by those at the top; they have the power to condemn, praise - and offer alternatives.
Like every layer of socialization that has come before it, social media will also be manipulated and nurture corruption, but those pulling the strings will have to think through the potential consequences of getting caught far more than any who have come before them. As strategies weigh wider bandwidths of consequence, even the corrupt will be forced to engage through a consciously pro-social lens.
This has been the trend of history, alluded to by many a philosopher over the years. While the leader who is feared is great, best is the leader who is loved. The Master, however, is barely recognized at all; when their work is done, the people say "amazing, we did it all by ourselves."
How many leaders today are conscious of this? They're going to have to be.
Welcome to the Conscious Society.