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“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” – Maya Angelou –

Agreed. Humankind learns from history, the goal of which is to not repeat our errors and to form a better future than our past. And agreed. Not repeating history takes enormous courage and sacrifice, both political and personal. One may argue that it is a choice, made consciously to not repeat and relive what one deems unproductive and atrocious, a choice that one may unconsciously believe to be made independently with not divine intervention of time and its surroundings.

But history repeats itself. Hence, Winston Churchill famously said, “Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.” The current repetition is best described as a series of uprisings. Although the degree, form and purpose differ vastly across continents, an overlap exists: the “commoners” demand to be heard.

Post first World War Egypt was changing rapidly, particularly its social and economic settings. New industries were developing, a different capital flow was coming in, and most importantly, the commoners, who were mostly slaves in the past, were awakening to realize their enslaved hardships. Literacy rates were at an all-time high, and means of communication, although still sluggish, were rapidly improving, allowing information and ideas to flow freely throughout the country. This synergy created a seething bond, a nation, resulting in an uproar for individual freedom and democracy.

A century later, modern Egypt birthed another uproar. The story sounds eerily similar; freedom suppressed for decades by a dictator, improved communication webs enabling the free-flow of ideas, and most importantly, commoners realizing their depressed current states and doing something about it. This wildfire has spread with bushfire speed, and has engulfed Syria for the past fourteen months. Syria indeed is on the extreme end; thousands of civilians have lost their lives. However, the pattern of revolt is nothing new.

No literal bloodshed yet, but a similar pattern is detected in South Korea. A formidable potential candidate has emerged in the race for the Blue House. Dr. Ahn Chul Soo, currently a professor at Seoul National University and formerly the founder of Ahn Lab, the first company to create and distribute computer vaccines in Korea, is riding a tidal wave strong enough to shake the foundations of the political establishment. What is striking is that Dr. Ahn has no political experience to speak of, and that he has not even formally declared his candidacy. What he has done for the past decade is simple: connect. Whether or not his motives are genuine, Dr. Ahn has become the symbol for what the Korean commoners want in their president. Someone who embodies two-way communication, someone who is genuinely concerned for the well-being of the common, and not thrashed around by the current establishment dominated by wealthy conglomerates.

Freedom does not endure. Fantasize all you want, but history does not lie. A once-successful uproar brings about a period of liberties, and the commoners thrive and rejoice. That period is almost always followed by a dictator, albeit in different forms and figures. The commoners are subdued once more, until another spark ignites the courage and necessity to realize and fulfill one’s destined freedom.

Charisma has fueled modern civilization through much of the past centuries.

From the Caesars of the Roman Empire to Napoleon to Hitler, our leaders usually possessed and exhumed charismatic energy from their speech and actions. They spoke, and we listened. They bellowed “Follow me!”, and we followed. Crowds were drawn, and in turn, reacted to whatever was uttered from the worshiped mouths of the leader and his select few.

I call this the T-Rex leader. The T-Rex thrived on one-way communication. He ruled from on high, on the likes of Mount Olympus, and his input thundered downward to be engraved upon the minds of his minions at his feet. Thought was not required. Like lemmings strutting down meaningless paths, simple actions were valued, questions discouraged. The T-Rex knew it all and had it all, so why question? Surely, T-Rex would look out for the common good.

This T-Rex is now extinct.

As the twenty-first century welcomed in a new wave of information technology, the minions became empowered. Knowledge is no longer a delicacy of the few, tucked away in T-Rex’s castles and chests. Knowledge and information is now a shared commodity, openly traded, sometimes for value, sometimes for free. Knowledge has become power, the power to question, the power to observe. Today, the T-Rex may bellow and beckon a following. The empowered minions inquisitively observe the T-Rex and think, asking “Is this T-Rex worthy of a following?”

The T-Rex must upgrade itself, to T-Rex Squared.

One-way commands, downward in nature, are now void of value. Pyramid organizational structures are crumbling left and right. They are ineffective and wasteful at best. The new motto is “From Vertical to Horizontal”. T-Rex Squared understands the value of two-way communication. He is a leader that dwells amongst his peers, breathing the same oxygen at that sea level. He lives and breathes the organization, and his mind is saturated (in a good way) with the overflowing creative juices of his empowered minions, now companions.

T-Rex Squared builds a web of communication. Input comes and goes in all directions. T-Rex Squared knows his limits, both intellectually and physically. He acquires the expertise of former minions and encourages them to freely create. Professional fields, segregated and holed up in the past, merge to create synergistic new fields and values. Information is shared, and knowledge is maximized through cross-references and communication.

Perhaps most strikingly, T-Rex Squared need not bellow. He just acts. Others examine him critically, and if he is deemed worthy of a following, they follow. T-Rex Squared is the ultimate catalyst, drawing broad boundaries and fueling thought and creation with moral and financial support.

As we head into election season, we must sense this societal change. Needs have changed. Survival criteria have changed. The definition of value has changed. From this day forth, our leaders must change as well.

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