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What should we do when our own leaders become our worst enemies?

I recently met by chance with a local community leader recognized for his many years of working supposedly “for the benefit” of the local community. I said “supposedly” because, according to this person, we (our community) deserves to live in poverty and ignorance. Hence, the question of the title: What should we do when our own leaders are our worst enemies?

I wish I could say the meeting I just mentioned with the community leader is just a creation of my imagination. But the meeting was real. Also, I wish I could say this is the only time a community leader said anything like that. Unfortunately, I have heard similar statements many times.

This self-described “agent of change” told me we should focus on “surviving”, because, for “people like us” it makes no sense to try to go to college. In fact, he said “we were not born” to study. And he added that, instead of thinking about building a new future, we should spend our energies preserving the tradition and education we received.  

I asked him with sincere curiosity how we could preserve a tradition when the world is not what it used to be, the future has changed, and the “tradition” he cherishes so much is just the life he had decades ago at a different country, in a context almost unconnected with our present reality.

He then told me I should attend the services at his church to listen to his sermons (that is, I add, his version of the Christian message) and then I will find the answer to my questions.

I must say I am not against, not even for a moment, the possibility of divine revelation (in whatever spiritual o religious context it could happen). But I am against anybody who assumes his own dogma is that revelation and that he is the doorkeeper of such revelation.

Even worst, those are many of the same persons who are invited as “experts” to radio and television programs, where they “lecture” us (in the worst sense of the word) about how to live our lives. Then, they are invited to every committee, board, or focus group out there, they get the grants, and every year they receive awards for their “contributions”.

But when they are just talking about the table at a small restaurant, they reveal who their true intensions: to oppress their own community by letting us to believe that there is no alternative and no future for us, and by deciding they are the limit of what we should achieve.

I remained calmed while listening to such a litany of nonsensical statements. And then, even worst, he expressed his negative opinions about women and about the LGBT community, while proclaiming he was a person with “an open heart.”

What, then, should we do? Against such a person, perhaps we can ask the divinity to intervene. But it is time to create sacred, safe self-discovery spaces for all those affected by those so-called “community leaders.” 

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