Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Stories of Leaders - Known, and Unknown

Stories are the basis for what we know as history today. A good example is the way we tell about our histories. We tell it as various stories put together. From the legends as well as facts that grew up around some of our first leaders to the leaders in business in we had a history of the positive.

So how do these stories create those personal histories that grew to represent an historical view of who we were, and who we are today? Much of the stories of those we consider revolutionary heroes created a view of the American as the principled, honest individual who when pressed by circumstance becomes a real hero to be honored. Some examples that show our need for those heroes are Betsy Ross, or even Benjamin Franklin.

Though Ben Franklin actually helped create his own image for our allies and the world, the story of the printer that poor kid from Philadelphia who made it set the stage for the idea that any boy could change the direction of his life and become a mover and shaker in the world. Our stories create an image of a larger than life persona, and even how we ourselves fit into what we are as a nation through the training we receive as children.

Every American can remember a story that shaped their view of historical characters like Abraham Lincoln. When asked who he was, the stories of the poor boy born in a log cabin are often high on our list of images that make him that likeable and strongly personable historical image. So, how does that affect our views today of our national figures and politician?

Think of what you know about the issues, what you believe needs to change and who has helped shape that image in your mind. Every image is created from a story that at first is told and retold and embellished to get a point across or simply to make it a more interesting story. What begins as hype, ends as a comfortable image for those who will vote in November. Not many actually do the homework to understand a given candidate. Instead they listen to the stories given them by those they trust and make a decision based on how they like the story, not the actual person.

The story is the world’s memory, or that’s what Chaim Potok tells us in his story “Old Men at Midnight.” Our memories of leaders often come from how we perceive them and the buzz that surrounds their created image rather than who they are as leaders or men and women. This November, what story will you believe and take so to heart that you will make the story your own?

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