This is As Jaundiced as Alexander McCall Smith Gets

The moment you accepted any promotion, any slight advantage over those below you in the pecking order, you had to accept that you might have to do things that others would prefer you not to do–make rulings that would dash the hopes of others, give one person an advantage over another, make people do things they would rather not do. All this came with seniority; all this came with working in a hierarchical organisation; all this came with simply being human.

Alexander McCall Smith, The Man with the Silver Saab, p. 172

5 thoughts on “This is As Jaundiced as Alexander McCall Smith Gets

  1. Benjamin Ledford

    Lately I was thinking about the burden that comes with authority, with the ability to make binding decisions for others and have to dispense punishments. I see it in a small way as a husband and father. When you’re little and under the authority, you wish that YOU could be in charge. You see the boss or the Dad who gets to make the decisions and (in your mind) do whatever he wants and it seems like a very desirable role. But when you come to the place where you have the authority you realize that authority is a burden to bear.

    Reflecting on that helped me with the idea of Hell and judgment. I don’t want God to send people to Hell, but just think of the weight that comes with such authority. You can’t think of it because it’s so far beyond us. We couldn’t bear that burden; we’d be crushed by it. So maybe I don’t need to worry about questioning His judgments. I don’t want to be the one having to make those calls.

    Sorry for hijacking your post. Ha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You were thinking about it. That’s exactly what I hope for, from these posts.

      Once I went through a training event about “contingencies” when you have a bunch of expats in a foreign country. Contingencies are things like hurricanes, political violence, kidnappings, that sort of thing. Things that might be a cause for evacuating your people. One thing the training noted was that, if you are the leader, you will be criticized WHATEVER you do. If you evacuate; if you don’t evacuate. If you evacuate too early or too late. Etc. Thankfully, I’ve never been in that position, but it certainly applies to anyone who finds themselves in any kind of leadership position in a crisis, even if it’s just being a parent with a sick child.

      This actually ended up being a major theme in my second book, The Strange Land. The People are led by a council, but they still have a chief, Enmer, partly because “people need someone to blame.” Enmer is repeatedly put in positions where there are no good options, but he needs to do something. Even after I drafted the book, I found myself thinking, “Will people wonder why Enmer didn’t do X or Y? Will they think he was enabling Z bad thing?” I started out wanting to show how a “good” leader would handle certain problems in his tribe, but as I wrote through it, I found out that often there is no good solution.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Benjamin Ledford

        Yup. Often there is no good solution. That’s especially hard for us to come to grips with in our modern technological age, where we have the perception that we can manipulate nature and society to produce whatever outcomes we want. We don’t really have a category for problems that can’t be helped, so if there’s a disaster, it’s somebody’s fault for not avoiding or managing it properly. So a forest fire, or a school shooting, or a pandemic are all causes not just for sorrow but for outrage, because whomever was in charge should have prevented it (not that I’m saying disasters can never be avoided or caused by our leaders, but not all of them are).

        And here’s an unpopular opinion: this is also a major drawback of democratic government. Whether a person gains power or stays in power is a function of whether the people like what they’re doing rather than whether they are making good decisions. To get really great leadership the leader has to be protected from public opinion. Of course, in a fallen world, that’s also how you get really terrible leadership, so we stick with democracy.

        Liked by 1 person

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