Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

Peer Pressure and Leadership – II. Leadership

At the age of 9, I came down with typhoid. At the time (before the age of antibiotics), this was a serious disease which often proved fatal. However, thanks to the excellent nursing care of my family, I survived. But at the end of it all, I was left in a poor shape. I was very weakened, often in pain, and I was depressed. Three months would go by before I could go back to school. By then, I had missed most of the first semester, and failing the year was a distinct possibility. But that was only part of my troubles.

Two mysterious events took place. First, after the typhoid, I was left with myopia! Second, the class was now divided into two groups which were at “war” with each other! One group was “led” by one leader, whereas the other group was led by a triumvirate (a group of three in authority). Because of my myopia, I had difficulty seeing the blackboard. Therefore, I had to request the help of the kid next to me. It also meant that I had to belong to his group, more so since he was one of the members of the triumvirate!

The good news was that I did not have to repeat the year. As well, by the next grade, the two groups disbanded. There was again peace in the land!

A number of questions come to mind here. Why did the class divided into two groups? Those were, for the most part, well-brought up kids, they were not delinquent children looking for trouble. They were also very young. Why one leader for one group and three for the other? The single leader was a slight kid, but very intelligent. Two members of the triumvirate were very strong, but not particularly bright; the third (the one sitting next to me) was strong and smart. Why did the groups disbanded? Was it just a phase?

Can we learn anything here? The teachers were aware of what was going on. Therefore the adults were not completely out of the picture. If we study similar cases for different age groups can we discern a pattern, and perchance understand the nature of leadership at a young age? But why is this important?

Parents will often tell you that their children got in trouble because “they fell in with the wrong crowd.” Assuming that’s the case, who in this crowd was the leader? Who is the decision-maker who can influence his friends to, say, break the law? Perhaps there is more than one leader? If so, why? Also does gender plays a role? Are the qualifications of female leaders different than the ones for male leaders?

Lots of questions for which, to the best of my knowledge, we have no answers. (Indeed, I may very well be the first one to raise these questions.) And yet, it is so important to understand why young people – from 8 to 18 and beyond – accept a specific individual as their leader, and on occasion follow him or her blindly. We also need to understand why there is sometimes more than one leader. Is such a group trying to be more democratic or is it simply lacking a strong leader?

We have to a great extent studied the nature of leadership in the adult world. Doing the same for young people is more complex. A group of 10-year-old is very different from a group of 12-year-old and again very different from a group of 15-year-old. Finally, girls will be very different from boys.

Between the age of 7 to 18, we begin to understand the world around us. We gradually begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together and get a glimpse of the “final” picture. At 18 the final picture is vastly different than at 7. Indeed it is a moving target, we will live our lives and go to our graves still pursuing this picture. But it is the challenge of life, and we need to equip our young people so that their lives will be fulfilling rather than being a constant struggle against problems carried over from their younger years.

Social issues are never easy to study. However, I believe that it is imperative that we understand the nature of leadership among the young and the dynamics existing within their groups at the different stages in their lives.

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