We Are the Leaders We’ve Been Waiting For

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Naomi Aeon

A friend and I were talking today, with reverence, about how hard people were hit by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. We were agreeing that Ginsburg had been, without any of us quite realizing it, holding up the world.

Ginsburg’s departure from this earthly dimension feels to be more than the loss of a true revolutionary and force of nature. It feels to be a call to each of us to shoulder more of the load when it comes to the way our world is. All that weight should not have been on her shoulders to begin with.

As we process the implications of her death, there’s a ramped-up fervor to call senators and get registered to vote. Yet even with our redoubled efforts, we’re still kind of hanging our hopes on a miracle happening. We’re hoping that somebody, anybody, will get a handle on the situation and deliver a solution to the myriad problems we have sitting in our laps.

It is we ourselves who must pledge to take more responsibility for the way things are, and for the ways we could be showing up but aren’t. This “showing up” I’m speaking of goes beyond protests, phone calls, social media posts, donations, and even voting. It goes beyond whatever anyone outside of ourselves is telling us we should be doing. What I’m talking about is showing up in the specific way our soul is nudging us to.

The only thing that differentiates a Ruth Bader Ginsburg from the rest of us is that Ginsberg listened to her inner nudges. She did the unreasonable and the unexpected. She walked her talk and stood her ground, unwaveringly. She followed the unique path that beckoned to her. She tuned out the nay-sayers and those who told a cautionary tale. Ginsburg did Ginsburg. Similarly, equally courageously, we must do so ourselves.

We all have inner whispers quietly but powerfully offering us guidance. We must learn how to discern, listen to, and heed these whispers. We must familiarize ourselves with the workings of our internal compass and follow its true north.

This requires shifting gear from mere compliance with the dictates of the going social change agendas. These tend to be rooted in groupthink, ignoring the spectrums of our very real individuality, and compelling us to take on perspectives that don’t accurately reflect the nuances of our personal truth as life has shown it to us.

Instead of allowing ourselves to be pulled ever more aggressively out of our own center, we must re-center more securely within ourselves. It is by honoring our truest and most authentic selves that we are equipped to make the difference only we can make.

To make the difference only we can make, we have to come home to ourselves. We must learn to be at one with ourselves. And this is easier said than done. For without realizing it, many of us have gone numb.

Tablets and Electronic Devices

We’ve grown ever more disconnected from ourselves. We’re addicted to our phones, our social media feeds, our television sets, and the planning of our next purchases. We’ve gone numb within an on-going recovery process from the stresses of our workaholism and our relentless striving to have more and get more. We’re perennially looking outside of ourselves to fill a randomized hunger that can only be filled from within us.

And now we’ve reached a dead end. We’ve come as far as we can in our somnambulant state. It’s as though we are now paying a price for having collectively gone to sleep. We expected things to remain a certain way. Until suddenly things weren’t sturdy anymore. Suddenly things were topsy-turvy. Suddenly our whole reality changed. Suddenly there we were with our heads spinning and the world seemingly going to hell in a hand basket.

There’s an entitlement issue at play when we expect the pillars to remain in place, even if we ourselves aren’t doing much to ensure the foundations remain solid. We can be entirely well-intentioned, yet coast along with little self-reflection as to whether we are doing our part to ensure our world is the way we want it to be.

Doing our part is a matter of doing deep inner work on ourselves and taking action in our surroundings. We have to put more into ourselves to get more out of ourselves. By the same token, we have to put more into life to get more out of it. We have to offer more to others. We have to contribute to the world around us in a more energized, proactive way.

It’s impossible not to feel weary and apprehensive about the state of the world right now. But if we can’t find our strength within ourselves, and if we refuse to bring more to the table, we can’t realistically expect that anyone else will. Powerless as we might feel, we are being called to step into our personal leadership, our inner leadership. This moment demands that we tap into our capacity to claim more authority and more sovereignty over our lives.

It is possible to ask more of ourselves while still remaining gentle with ourselves. The past year has posed very real challenges for most of us, and we must designate time to retreat and replenish and perhaps to lick our wounds. If we find ourselves in a deep personal crisis, it may be that the best thing to do is “dissolve” and go inward. To surrender to the sacred process of dying and being reborn, even while we’re alive.

But if we have any bandwidth for it at all, we must listen to the whispers within us and heed what we hear. We must go beyond “reacting”; to the pain, to the discomfort, to the suspense of this moment. And it’s we ourselves who must determine, using our own best judgment, what we should or should not be doing. And then actually do the thing.

If this world is going to right itself, more of us are going to have to be willing to “be the change.” More of us will have to find it within ourselves to show up with the strength, the healthy mindset, the open-heart, and the bravery our world is needing from us right about now.

Whether within our most intimate inner circles, or within the world at large, we ourselves must be the influencers. We ourselves must be the game-changers. We ourselves must be the pioneers, the trail-blazers, and the edge-makers. For in the end, when it comes to the world we are living in, we ourselves are the leaders we’ve been waiting for, and no one else.

Naomi Aeon, PhD