Column: The able parasite


It is a story as old as any. We put our leaders on pedestals only to promptly knock them off – only to put them back again. You know how the rest goes. We invest in human nature, knowing its patterns, and then feign dismay as it plays out as expected. We alternatively love the best among us, then despise in them in manifesting the very qualities that we admire – bringing them in with palm fronds and carrying them out in a body bag. Is it the recovery that we seek? Is it their test of failure that reassures us in our own ambling attempts to find our way from outpost to outpost along the journey we travel? 

While the mere saying of it reeks of cynicism, we live in a culture where the weak ride upon the strong. We identify the best among us, attach ourselves to them as they move ever toward the top, ignoring our suspicions as we benefit from the view. Then as we surmount the very zenith, we summarily execute the leader, the visionary who carried us past our own feeble limitations, and claim the summit for ourselves. In measure, it is part envy that drives us. And also, our own shame that we’d not overcome these self-imposed constraints to find our way without the insight and driving of the trailblazer.

In our hubris, we assert victory. You didn’t do this (at very least, you didn’t do it without me). But deep down, we know that we did not reach success on our own. We lack the vision and perhaps the fortitude. So we scavenge, feeding on the hunt of others. Shouldn’t we instead admire and honor the leaders? And be inspired to lead ourselves? Is there honor in being an able parasite? Only in delusion.