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  • Writer's pictureAnca

Robin Hood for King - reflection upon leadership

"We are here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for, I don't know" W.H.

Describe the ideal monarch; he surely would be just and wise; he will care about the weak and in spite of his own magnificence and divine mandate, he will fight to decrease inequality. In a land ruled by the ideal monarch, everyone would be educated, be mentally healthy and fulfilled. People will be happy. Everyone will have enough and then some. And everyone would find meaning in acts of compassion. Everyone would feel useful and contributing to a better world. And everyone could eat ice cream for breakfast. And all seasons will be spring.  And everyone will take credit they did it all by themselves. The monarch will look upon this UTOPIA and be content but know in his heart it is him who holds the balance of the world between his fingers and yet he will never request anything in return. 


man holding a golden crown

Humanity has seen all sorts of monarchs but not yet this one. We can look in vain through the nobility and among the great men of past times.  If they could, they would have become this type of monarch and moreover, they would have created that type of society. But we have not seen it yet. It is hard work to create a stable and nurturing place and that is not achieved by good intentions alone. 

So, what other crucial elements did we miss until now that we did not strike that balance of leadership, kindness and wisdom from a creature that the heavens have mandated to lead us? Well, for starters, it is not the heavens that give the mandate to the rulers, but it is us, the people. And the thing we typically do then is to choose one of our own. The one that speaks louder, the one that sits on the legacy of a noble name, the one that tells us what we want to hear. You know them, you have seen them all. 


Have we been missing something? Have we given enough attention to the freedom fighters, the justice warriors and misunderstood mavericks. We sing them songs, why wouldn't they deserve a crown?


What if a type like Robin Hood would become the king? Oh, he dedicated his life and well being for decreasing the suffering of other people. Rob the rich and give to the poor! He was a man of courage and a man of action. He dispensed justice as easily as he created good mood among his people. 


The character of Robin Hood is a multi-dimensional figure that has fascinated us through time to create countless stories, songs, and films. And we widely regard him as a heroic and admirable figure. So, what will happen if we are to lift him to the ranks of leaders? 


Justice


Let us start from his idea of Justice. Robin Hood took from the rich to give to the poor. He single mindedly determined what was too much to have and took it upon himself and his merry men to dispense justice and redistribute wealth at the tip of the sword. 

Therefore, the very existence and enforcement of a social contract  (Hobbes, 1651; Locke, 1689) meaning that individuals agree to give up some of their individual freedoms in exchange for protection and support from the government would be inconceivable under the reign of a Robin Hood type ruler.  Under a social contract, the government has a responsibility to protect the rights and well-being of its citizens, and individuals have a right to resist or overthrow a government that fails to do so. In the case of Robin Hood, his actions can be seen as a form of resistance against a government and its laws, therefore, he would need to resort to an authoritarian rule to impose his justice. 


Hierarchy


Robin Hood does not recognize the authority of noble titles or social roles. His actions challenge the established social order and disrupt the normal functioning of society. While his actions are motivated by a desire to promote social justice, they also create chaos and instability, making it difficult for society to function effectively. Therefore, as a monarch, it will be an extremely difficult role to fill, since monarchy would be such an institution he defies. 


Equality


Robin Hood cares about the poor. While his focus on helping the poor and challenging the wealthy and powerful is important, it overlooks the many structural and systemic factors that contribute to poverty and inequality. Robin Hood  focuses on simplistic solutions and violence to set the score right between people. An over-reliance on violent means can lead to a cycle of escalating conflict and retaliation. 


His actions and ideology can be seen as both heroic and problematic, however, Robin Hood's legacy as an iconic and enduring figure in literature and popular culture continues to inspire people around the world. His commitment to social justice and his willingness to challenge the status quo are values that continue to resonate with people today.


head of man in armour, iron helmet

Critics might say that Robin Hood engages in vigilantism, acting outside of the established legal system to fight injustice. While his actions are motivated by a desire to help the poor and marginalized, they can also be seen as undermining the rule of law and the legitimacy of the government. One can write songs about such a rebel, but what would that say about a king who would bring this ideology forth? It can very well be that Robin Hood as a leader would create an authoritarian, violent and vengeful climate. This is hardly a stable and nurturing environment we are longing for.


A rebel represents a drop of chaos in an ordered and well organized society. A localized outlet for resentment and pain.  But achieving social justice through vigilantism and disruptive actions make it difficult for anyone to govern effectively and maintain legitimacy in the eyes of his subjects.


Let us though leave such rebel characters in the space of folklore and stop dreaming for Robin Hoods to lead us. Let us choose our leaders from the ranks of adults that respect society and do not seek to disintegrate it,  that create stability and order and do not seek to rebuild the world  in their image. When we fail this, we create Hitlers and Stalins and we should really know better by now. 


The ideal monarch is an impossibility because creating a stable and nurturing society is not at the fingertips of any single individual. It is, instead a collective responsibility and engagement between the rulers and the ruled, an open dialogue and searching for the paths to peace, prosperity and stability and a social contract we enter together. One way to measure the health of the society is in the strength of the opposition to power.

An ideal society does not exist. An ideal ruler does not exist. Collective justice and collective equality are improbable.  Collective justice propagates hand in hand with collective injustice. Collective equality is suffocating and oppressive. And when old hierarchies are abolished, new ones are created. So, no stable society can be created against human nature. But if we can create a place that respects human dignity and basic needs, we are doing pretty good. 



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