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Honesty Bites (part IV)

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Beaverton, OR

September 24th, 2021

He had indeed ended up puking in the cop’s car. When the young officer had insisted that he’d be making him clean it up it was all he’d been able to do to stifle a laugh. There were few, if any, cases in which a man or woman about to be taken in and booked would be made to clean out a cop car, at least none that were documented. Plus, given that every dash cam that had ever been put into a cop car was on all the time he kind of doubted that the young officer would avoid a severe scolding for talking to a compliant perp in such a manner would be given much leeway. Of course he didn’t know the young man and didn’t care how he was talking to him,. he’d passed out on the ride to the jail.

Thankfully he woke up by the time they arrived since he didn’t want to be yanked out of the car by his wrists. That hurt too much and only made the cops even angrier when they had to expend the extra effort. He could remember the complaints and trouble he’d stirred when he’d broken a few fingers and sprained a wrist or two trying to get someone out of the back of his cruiser. In his defense though he’d usually brought in a lot of people that were doped up or so belligerent that pain was an afterthought. They’re main goal had been to be as difficult as they could be.

It took a while to get him booked, fingerprinted, and then put into the system. When they’d seen who he was though the questions had started.

“You were a cop?”

“What brought you to this sorry mess?”

And his favorite, “Is there anyone you can call?”

“Yes,” he’d replied honestly, “But she wouldn’t answer. No one I know would answer.”

It was true, he’d been cut off from everyone, no matter many times he’d told the truth, his friends, his co-workers, even his family had cut him out of their lives. His life wasn’t the type of story where he’d lost everything and yet still knew that people loved him. He’d taken to burning every bridge he could in his life, hell he’d even done it with his kids, who’d loved him as much as they could until they couldn’t take it anymore.

So he’d been booked and shuffled off to a cell which had thankfully only had one other occupant in it. That occupant had been sleeping on the bottom bunk, or had at least been resting his eyes. He’d shrugged and made his way painfully to the top bunk, grimacing every time his muscles flexed as he finally made it to the top. Setting down his sleeping mat and thin but serviceable blanket he’d then settled back and just waited for the call to mealtime.

That was about all you do in county unless you had other methods of distraction.

(to be continued)

You Know History? (part IV)

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(continued)

Palatine Hill

Rome, Italy

January 23rd, 41 AD

I knew this passage as well as I knew the hallways in my own home. If there’s one thing I’ve always been it’s a history buff, and various histories of leaders, tyrants, despots, an the like had always interested me. This was where Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, known to many as Caligula, had been murdered. Much of what I saw at that moment had been lost to history, as Palatine Hill had been greatly reduced in our time, but I knew where I was as I had studied this place intricately, taking in old texts and pictures, as much as I could find. It only took stepping into the main thruways and passages to gain my bearings, but doing so wasn’t wise since as I’ve seen with each trip thus far I arrive in my same, sodden pair of swimming trunks that I constantly wear when I wade among the waves.

But this was it. This was the spot where Caligula would be murdered. I didn’t know it was the day before until much, much later, as I didn’t want to move for fear that someone would see me. It was an unreasonable fear to say the least, but it still kept me from revealing myself. I don’t know how long I remained hidden in the nook I’d found, but I heard many people come and go, and each time I felt it was safe I peered out, marking the time by the fading light that could be seen here and there.

I didn’t know how much longer I could wait at one point as I had to relieve myself, I was hungry, and I was terribly thirsty. But when the next day dawned I heard what sounded like a single person making their way down the passage, and I couldn’t help but look out. Thankfully he didn’t seem me, but I could see everything. The handsome, arrogant-looking young man that I saw was quite haughty, dressed in finery and seeming to care little if anything for anyone else.

He cared however when he saw the small mob of people step into the passage, blocking the direction he was headed. I have no idea what was said to them, but I was waiting for the bloodbath. You wouldn’t believe it though. It almost didn’t come.

I kid you not. The people that history has stated would assassinate this young, arrogant man that had grown so far out of control was alone, outnumbered, no doubt outmatched, and yet he stood before them as though he was invincible, as though he could back them all off with a glare. And whatever he said to them in the next moment seemed to work, as they looked among each other with unease, their eyes flicking nervously back and forth as he spread his arms wide, as though inviting their swords.

And they did nothing.

I have read the histories, I know of the atrocities that Caligula committed, and I know that near the end he was reviled by just about every person under his rule. And yet as he raised his voice yet again, they stood aside. Not a single sword lifted against him, not a single person charged. Do you know why? History is imperfect, that’s why. It is what it is because we as human beings tell ourselves that this is what happened, this is what was written, and this is what we must believe. These people that would have gladly slit the throat of their young emperor had somehow been cowed by him and were moving aside to let him pass. I couldn’t let that happen.

On weak legs exhausted from standing or crouching for a day or more, I stumbled out of hiding, clad only in my urine-soaked swim trunks and listing from one side to the other. I called out in my own language, which of course none of them understood, and motioned for Caligula, miming a stab at his back as he stopped and actually looked at me with what seemed like utter contempt as well as disgusted amazement. It’s an odd combination to see on any face so that’s the best I can do. But as I approached the people seemed undecided on what to do, so I showed them.

Really, that simple, I showed them. I took advantage of the moment and grabbed up a sword from someone that didn’t know how to react, and I approached Caligula at a shambling run that he should have been able to easily avoid. Maybe he thought I was weak, that I couldn’t do it, or maybe he thought me a fool. But the sword plunged into his guts all the same, and despite the fact that I had to let go before dropping to the ground (I was that exhausted), he’d had only a split second to realize what had just happened. So had the people behind me though.

I laid on the floor as I heard the sound of steel entering flesh over and over again, the screams of the dying emperor somehow music to my ears as the realization that I’d done this kept ringing in my mind. I’d saved the history that must have been a lie all this time. Of course when I felt the first sword go into my back that feeling went away pretty quickly. By the third stab my body was already going into shock, and by the fifth I don’t remember anything other than slipping into dark, black hole that seemed to swallow me and carry me along like a drifting tide.

(to be continued)

Man Harasses Woman in Park

Is this for real? Apparently so, as a woman holding her camera wisely did not run and did not seek to confront an elderly man as he turned aggressive towards her upon seeing that she was wearing a shirt that read Puerto Rico on the front displayed the red, white, and blue of America. His ranting was allowed to continue even as the woman pleaded for a police officer nearby to come and assist her. The officer did nothing, even turning away as the man was allowed to continue his rant, pushing up towards the woman continually as his hateful diatribe continued.

Perhaps someone should inform this man of the facts when it comes to relations between Puerto Rico and America. If he was any smarter he might know that:

Puerto Rico has been under US control since 1898.

The US took control of the island well over a century ago and has left it as an unincorporated territory, meaning that it IS a part of the US but is NOT a part of the mainland. In other words, Puerto Rico is a part of our country but is not considered a state. Perhaps if the man would read something other than the label on a whiskey bottle (yes I went there) then he could understand how foolish his words are.

His actions and words could be considered as a form of assault, but are at the very least harassment.

Walking up on someone like this constitutes an aggressive act as many cultures would see this as an aggressive movement. It’s almost guaranteed that had the old man been talking to another male that he would have likely kept his distance, but since he is speaking to a woman it is even more obvious that he feels emboldened enough to press forward and make her continually uncomfortable.

The police officer should easily be cited for dereliction of duty.

The law might say that police do not have to step in at all times during a dispute, but the case for this particular situation could be made from the video evidence. The woman is openly asking the officer on duty if he can help her….and the man walks the other way, as though he didn’t hear her at all, and as if he can’t tell what’s going on only a short distance away. Unless the officer was deaf, which didn’t seem to be the case, he was studiously trying to ignore the scene. This cannot stand, not in this manner. Cops aren’t expected to be supermen and solve every problem, but if a person is openly asking for their help against a belligerent and potentially violent individual then it seems as though the words “to protect and serve” should be more than a pretty decal that can be applied to the side of their cars.

Only when help came from the woman’s side of the issue did the cop seem to perk up, as though seeking to defend the older man. So tell me, is that fair, and is it what makes America so great?

It’s our country, and it’s the only one we’ve got, but this kind of situation is not acceptable.

Limits are Like Rules

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A lot of us have seen these words and no doubt echo the sentiment when it suits us. There are of course upsides and downsides to this and moments when the rules are better to be observed than blatantly broken. But a lot of times this sentiment seems to be entirely true since life is too short to be burdened by too many rules. Limits are the same way, they’re fun to break on occasion but they are there for a reason and are bound to be taken from a different perspective based on the individual.

A rule is a regulation laid down within a society that prohibits an activity to keep people safe and maintain order of some sort. Rules are basically an agreed-upon method of conduct that exists to serve a society and to keep their interests in line with one another as much as possible. Rules are there to keep people from stepping out of line, from harming one another or themselves, and from causing dissension within a given community.

Rules are not perfect however.

Rules are made to be broken sometimes because they shouldn’t have been made in the first place. There is a large number of examples and picking one is difficult, but the problem with breaking rules is that this must be allowable for everybody, or it is allowable for nobody. Rules aren’t put into place for a select number of people to disregard, though that’s definitely the case in this world.

In order to follow a rule a person doesn’t have to like it, they simply have to abide by it. Yet it’s unfortunate that rules can also become a screen behind which people hide behind. Those that would use rules in this manner aren’t just lazy but are also blatant opportunists that don’t so much care about the rule as they do the ability to escape behind it whenever it becomes convenient.

If the truth is to be told, they are one of the many reasons why people that seek to do the right thing, or the moral thing, will break the rules and never once look back.

Rules are limits that are set by society, and are therefore subject to change if they must.

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Ever hear someone say “those are the rules, I didn’t make them” ? Well that might be right, but as free-thinking individuals we have the right to challenge them. So of course we don’t want total anarchy, we don’t want the Old West back and we certainly don’t want anything that might be unsafe for those around us. But what we do want are rules that make sense and don’t limit us to what we can do with our lives.

One thing any person needs to realize about limits is that they only exist if we allow them to. A goal is not the limit to which a person should be pushing themselves towards, it’s a reference marker on the way to something greater. It’s a place to stop for a moment and assess just how far you’ve come and how much further you think you can go. The rules that exist to stymie our efforts and keep us down are little more than limits that are to be overcome.

The Businessman and the Farmer

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Said the Businessman to the Farmer, “You know, without people like me you probably wouldn’t exist in this day and age.”

The Farmer, sitting on his porch and thinking it over said, “You’re probably right. But the thing is, without folks like you my job wouldn’t need to exist.”

The Businessman gave a frown as he looked at the Farmer, “Why’s that? People always need food.”

The Farmer nodded, “Yes they do, but people like me know how to grow the food, how to pick it, and how to treat the land so we can keep growing. If not for needing to feed people like yourself our job would get a lot easier. We’d only have to feed ourselves.”

The Businessman seemed offended, “Are we such a burden then?”

The Farmer shook his head, “Nope, you’re a blessing disguised as a bane.”

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Right then the Businessman turned to look at the Farmer, eyes narrowed as he said, “If not for people like me, places like this would go under. My type of people set the market for your goods, we control what happens here, and we’re the ones that tell you what to do and when.”

The Farmer, unperturbed by this, simply leaned back in his chair, blinking lazily at the Businessman as he said, “Yeah, all that is true. But you forgot one thing.”

“What’s that?” asked the Businessman, contempt lacing his voice within both syllables.

“One day when the end comes, and it most likely will, people like me will still be here.”

To that, the Businessman had nothing to say, and was silent.

Instinct vs. Intelligence

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Once upon a time human beings relied on something called instinct, that gut feeling we get when something is about to happen, or something isn’t right, or we should simply be aware of our surroundings. Eventually instinct gave way to the knowledge that what we felt was right, that what was right was predictable, and that eventually what was predictable would remain so and give way to something that would eventually become known as intelligence. It’s a leap, I understand, but it’s the path that was taken by humanity when instinct was eventually replaced, in some, by the pursuit of knowledge that would lead to intelligence of the sort that made our gut feelings less than relevant.

Instinct is still a very strong trait in many humans, it’s part of what keeps us safe, as it is alluded to be the same as common sense in some cases, while in others it is more akin to a link to the natural world that our earliest ancestors relied upon to stay alive. In today’s world however it would appear that instinct is less appealing than intelligence when it comes to making decisions concerning one’s life. Intelligence has become in some ways the accepted substitute for the innate understanding that people once used to function in the everyday world.

In truth, instinct is a fine thing on its own, as is intelligence, but apart they’re little more than desirable traits in any species. Together, they’re able to create a free-thinking being that has the ability to change and adapt to the world around them in a variety of ways.

Instinct is older than intelligence.

This is highly debatable of course since the two are so interconnected that separating them from one another would be nigh impossible if a creature with any mental capacity was to survive. But the rough and tumble truth of it is that intelligence is defined as the ability to gather information, more or less, while instinct is defined as an innate, fixed set of behaviors that are genetically present and help an organism to survive. The statement that instinct bred intelligence is accurate enough, but it also means that on a very basic level that instinct had to come first and, as a result, is just slightly older than intelligence.

Organisms from the smallest to the greatest have the instinct to survive by any means necessary and will take it more often than not. The living want to go on living and are given an undefined feeling that to do anything less is simply unacceptable. If there is any real meaning of life it is that we will continually struggle to hold onto it, even if it’s done out of little more than habit. At our most basic level, human beings will rely on instinct when all else has been stripped away.

Instincts are difficult to master but are quite often correct.

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Instincts and intelligence tend to war with one another quite often as they work at opposite poles of the psyche. Instincts are your common sense, your fight or flight, and your most basic response commands that rest deep within your personality. In some people they’re very strong while in others they tend to be weaker as people decide not to listen to them or trust their own line of thinking. Living at an instinctual level is not easy, nor is it possible to master in a short time, but instincts are what keep people moving and keep them alive on a day to day basis. Intelligence is the byproduct of instinct, and therefore becomes the compliment as well as the polar opposite that continues to stand at odds with one another despite their constant collusion.

Trusting your instincts is difficult if you’ve never been allowed to follow them. But relying on intelligence for every last facet of life not the solution.

What’s It Like to Be Adopted?

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You’ve likely heard stories by now of what adoption is like, how it can be useful and how it can be harmful, and how many controversies there are that surrounded it and the people that practice it. It’s a wonderful thing really, or at least it’s meant to be. Children that need a home, that have been given up for whatever reason, are allowed to be adopted by people that are put through a rigorous amount of screening. One can only hope that the people these kids go to will be trustworthy enough to care for their new child, and won’t be harboring any unhealthy motives for taking a child into their home. That’s the hope at least, and sometimes it’s enough.

But that’s the process of adoption from the standpoint of those doing the adopting, not the adopted. Some people are adopted when they’re slightly older, meaning toddler to even adolescent age, but there are a lot of kids that are adopted as babies, meaning that they’re too young to remember, and therefore will either never know unless 1) they’re a different race or ethnicity than their adopted parents, or 2) their birth parents decide not to tell them. In the case of the former it’s bound to come out and therefore isn’t a wise ting to hide. In the latter, it’s up to the parent really. If the child somehow resembles their adopted parents in any way it becomes simple to just accept the child as part of the family and never tell them.

Some might think that’s a wise move never to tell the child, to spare them from ever knowing, while others insist that it’s a necessity to tell them, to make it known that they were in fact adopted and absolutely desired. Parents that adopt tend to want a child so badly that they’re willing to go through the long, mind-numbing and soul-sucking process that some agencies make them go through.

Telling a child they’re adopted when they’re young is a wise move.

To be honest this can go either way, as it can alienate a child if the information is given incorrectly or it can enlighten them if they’re reminded that out of all children that still need a home, they were lucky enough to be picked for the current life they’ve been given. If the parents are smart they will tell the child when they are still relatively young, but old enough to understand. This eliminates any need to feel alienated, allows them to understand that they have a home, a family, and a life that they were chosen for. It makes them feel special in a way that allows them to realize, later, just how fortunate they are.

Telling a child about their adoption can have negative effects as well.

Take any person in this world born to their parents, their natural parents. They have a defined starting point in their lives, even if they don’t have both parents. They know where they came from, they know their lineage, and by extension what genes they’ve had passed on to them. Take a child that’s been adopted and it’s less certain. If it’s an open adoption, then it’s very possible that they’ll know. If it’s not, then one’s existence essentially starts with a question mark, an uncertainty that can only be solved by finding the birth parents or undergoing a DNA test that might be able to tell you what is in your genes and what you might be predisposed towards, meaning what type of genetic diseases might be found lurking in your bloodline.

But what’s the negative part you ask? It’s taking the test and determining that you are actually predisposed towards contracting something, or the fear that comes with actually finding your birth parents and finding the reason you were given up. Some might find that they were given up to lead a better life than their birth parents could give them, others might have been given up because they simply weren’t ready. But for many of those adopted, no matter if they admit it or not, it’s hard to simply move past  the idea that you did not come by your family in the natural way that others have. In short, it eats at you in a way that is hard to stomach for a while, until you find a way to move past it, to accept it, and to accept that you have a life that many other children, those that don’t get adopted, can only dream of.

Being adopted feels like winning the lottery that you never played. It feels like a life that you might not deserve, and in many ways, it feels like a chance at a life that might have slipped through your fingers otherwise. It is the world you’re given because someone had the will to love a child that was not theirs with everything they had.

You Know History? (part III)

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Seaside, OR

Current Day

The ocean is timeless. Humanity has known of it for a long time, and has known that it is a vast and dangerous, unknown place. Our species believes that there are worlds yet to be discovered in the depths, a time and place of monsters that we know nothing about. For all that we’ve learned about it, there is so much more that remains untapped, so much more potential that could be used to our benefit. Take time travel instance. It might sound far-fetched and even ridiculous to consider, but the ocean is true vessel of time travel that this world possesses. I could go into a long, drawn out explanation that might confuse you even further and make you roll your eyes while thinking that I’m the biggest kook alive. But it’s true.

I don’t know how I did it, but through skimming my hands along the interior of a cresting wave I found it possible to travel back in time. I know, weird and likely unbelievable right? If it was this easy then anyone could do it wouldn’t you think? Surfers might be traveling back to the past on a regular basis just by doing the thing they love. But this is different, this takes split-second timing and is not quite as simple as it sounds, unless you’ve learned how to do it. I’m not a superhero or a villain, I don’t have any special qualities to me, but I figured this out somehow, very much by accident.

My life has been spent largely at the coast, without rhyme or reason. I’ve always felt calm, peaceful at the coast, in control of myself in a way that has never happened anywhere else. So it was one day I was wading out in the waves that I saw one cresting not too far away from me, curling up in the same way that so many countless waves had done since this world began. I don’t know why, but the compulsion to reach out and touch the interior part of the wave, to glide my hand along it, was so strong that I couldn’t help but make my way into the tube, reveling as it collapsed around me and smothered me within its embrace. And then it happened. I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but as my hand glided along the interior of the tube I felt a strange pulse, a thudding against my palm the opened my eyes.

What I saw was amazing, but it was misunderstood in a way that an ant might misunderstand the sight of a shadow right before the shoe that casts it stomps down upon it. This seemed so benevolent though, as if it was welcoming me. A flash of greenish gold appeared beneath my hand as I just barely registered that the wave had not yet fallen entirely. The world had seemingly stopped when the pulse had come along, and seemed to be waiting.

“When in Rome,” I muttered, and then the world around me was taken away, and the harsh reality kicked me in the gut as I fell hard to an unforgiving floor. What happened then was just the beginning

I was in Rome, one day before Emperor Caligula was assassinated.

(to be continued)

Honesty Bites (part III)

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(continued)

Beaverton, OR

September 23rd, 2021

“Sir let me see your ID. Do you have ID?”

He groaned, rolling his eyes as he flipped his hands up, his head pounding at that moment as he tried to sort out his thoughts enough for a witty comeback. It didn’t work.

“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to accompany me to the station,” the officer said, reaching out a hand for him.

“I, I didn’t, do anything, wrong,” he said, fighting back a wave of bile as he grimaced, swallowing something that had the foul taste of acid with a faint tinge of red sauce. What had he eaten last night?

“You’re drunk in public and aren’t cooperating,” the cop said, “That’s enough. I need you to come back to  the car with me and perform a sobriety test. I’m pretty sure of what the result will be but-”

“You’re a lousy cop if that’s how you talk to people,” he blurted out, belching as he swallowed another load of bile, “and if you I move I think I’m going to vomit. Just a heads up.”

The cop snickered, wiping one hand across his face as he looked at him, shaking his head, “Sir you can come with me of your own volition or you can-gaaah!”

He couldn’t hold it in anymore as the bile came flowing out in a spume of red-tinged effluvia, dousing the cop from the knees of his pants all the way to his boots. The smell hit them both immediately as a sickening mixture of sweet and savory rot assaulted their nostrils. Then it was time for the cop to get mad as he stepped a little closer. Jim dry-heaved a few times as the cop came closer, anger written plainly on his face.

“Anything else to say before we go to the car sir?” he asked, swiping at his pants in obvious irritation.

“I’ll probably end up puking in your car,” Jim said, wincing as he spoke. Damn and hell if the truth wasn’t just horrible sometimes.

(to be continued)

Why It’s Hard to Follow a Leader

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There’s a good reason why some of us don’t care to follow the leader and yet won’t step up to the plate. We don’t want to become the people that seem to claim all the credit and then forget that those they’re responsible for are in fact worthy of their praise. We don’t want to be seen as those people that will gladly speak to the masses about how great they are when in reality they’re nothing but figurehead that claims credit for something that they hyped but did not accomplish on their own. Becoming the bad leader is not something that people aspire to, but sadly those that could possibly do the job better have yet to step up because they see the damage that is caused when good people are forced to compromise.

Following a leader is what many people want.

The act of making decisions in our lives wears on a great number of people, especially when it comes to surviving in a group or standing alone. A leader or a ruling body allows us to place our fate in the hands of another and hope that through them we can find a way to make sense of a world that doesn’t seem to care much whether we survive or not. The trouble with a bad leader in this instance however is that those that desire power and influence will continue gather followers and continue to take rather than give back. The major downside is that people that need answers for a life that doesn’t make sense at times will still look to such leaders in order for absolution that rarely ever comes.

Good leaders know when to sacrifice for their people and when to answer their cries of “why” or “how”. Their concerns are of the utmost importance to a good leader, who will know that empty rhetoric is not the answer.

Leaders are the guide in a world that can be increasingly hostile at times.

It’s true, human beings don’t always get along, but enough of us band together in groups in order to protect ourselves from others when it’s needed. Leaders in this instance are those that look beyond borders, boundaries, race, ethnicity, color, and everything else in order to determine whether or not differing peoples can come together for the greater good. A good leader will look beyond the fears of their people and seek to understand those that are different than them. They will also defend their people through everything and seek to find the best solution to any conflict.

A bad leader will unfortunately marginalize others and harbor an Us vs. Them mentality that does no one any good and creates more conflict than it’s worth.

A strong leader doesn’t seek glory, as they understand that the glory is its own reward.

Despite the intrinsic nature of such terms as glory, honor, morality, and other such ethical descriptors there is a strong feeling that comes when one does the right thing. Strong leaders experience this feeling and want more of it, enough that they can share with their people as they lead the masses into the future with a sense of right and wrong that is fluid enough to change given the situation and yet solid enough to help them determine just what acts are truly against humanity and which are ambiguous enough to warrant discussion.

A bad leader will spur their people into the fray and seek to reap the glory and the credit for what their people do as they sit in the rear and watch. Bad leaders are those that talk big and yet could not hope to match the fervor or the skill of their people no matter their claims.

In short, following a leader is something that people choose to do because they believe in the individual they select. But the difficulty comes when those leaders decide that they are more important than the ideals and people that they serve. Then it becomes difficult to follow any leader, as they’ve proven that their own importance is far more pressing than that of those they are supposed to lead.