Saturday, May 30, 2015

That Which Seperates Us....

is, unfortunately, more powerful than that which unites us. Years ago, when I first became involved in mustang preservation, I was completely caught off guard by the divisions in the movement as exemplified by the number of registries that exist for the same horses. I thought then, as I do now, that the Horse of the Americas registry was the perfect vehicle to bring unity to the movement. I thought that unity was something that would be universally accepted.

I was very naive.

I knew that there was no money in mustang preservation and I was encouraged by those who  recognized that fact and pushed on anyway. I thought that as long as greed was not involved unity of purpose would cause everyone to work together.

I had failed to account for the intense human desire to be in control of something--anything at all--so long as the desire for power was satiated by being able to tell someone--anyone--exactly how they were to do things.

When I was young I was a politician. I met many people who were considered leaders who gloried in saying "no." They demonstrated their power by preventing people from getting what they wanted. They always perplexed me. I loved demonstrating my power by giving people what they needed.

I continue to feel that power is best demonstrated by opening doors rather than closing them.

I do not understand the thirst to control the actions of others--I do not understand why anyone would think that having such power would be anything but a tremendous drain on one's psyche.

In my coat and tie life I have more power than most people ever dream of having. My decisions as to what to what crime to charge a defendant with and what sentence to agree to often lead to utterly life changing consequences, not merely for the defendant, but for everyone who loves or depends on that defendant for financial support. I know that some prosecutors revel in that power.

I feel very sorry for those prosecutors whose lives are so empty that their pleasure is defined by how much power they exert and how much pain they can inflict. The only part of my job that gives me any satisfaction is working with victims to help them get through the process with as little pain as possible.

Having the responsibility of morally exercising the power of a prosecutor is all of the responsibility that I want. I certainly would not want the "power" that I could garner by seeking to form a splinter mustang/Colonial Spanish horse registry. I certainly would not want the "power" of trying to tell someone else whether or not their horse was worthy of breeding.

The HOA is a powerful force for unity among mustang preservationists.

On a micro level, individual programs can only succeed and expand when participants set aside their self interest for the sake of unity of that program. Our program is based on unity and cooperation. We have succeeded only because we have not fallen prey to the divisiveness that inevitably results when any faction seeks the power to control the actions of others. Our success is the result of many years of many people asking themselves, "What can I do?" instead of asking "What can I require someone else to do?"

Our program is not based on a power/control paradigm. It never will be. The way we get work done is that a few days each year we announce special work days. Those who participate are rewarded by knowing that they have done something important that will lead to more good for more people. Those who do not participate punish themselves by missing out on that opportunity.

That is not how most of the work gets done. I usually just post that at a given time on a given day I will be working on a given project and everyone is invited out to help.

But there is an even better way that things get done at he horse lot--some people simply do them--without being ordered, or even asked, to do so--like when I come to the horse lot to find that Wendell has repaired the round pen gate.  I am not going to give any further examples of such work--because there are too many to list and inevitably I will forget someone.  (Although I doubt if anyone would mind if I forgot to mention them because these people do not do the work because they want recognition. They do it because they was contribute to the good that comes out of our program)

This model works and in order to fail to see its success one must be so deeply caught up on the process of exercising power that one fails to see the product of cooperation. Such a model cannot succeed everywhere. Its success is dependent on having people who have the ability to set aside their divisive desire to control others.

But it can be done--we prove it every day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This a very good description of one of the biggest reasons I never went farther in the Navy. And a pretty good description of why many of my senior sailors are very much senior to me now. Why they did it faster and better than I...and why I am so very proud of them. -Lloyd