By Sanguinarius, et al
(This article was originally published on 7th August, 2002, but has been revised with new material added on 16 May, 2003.)
A notable community member (wishing to remain anonymous) wrote:
I would just like to give my opinion about “leaders and founders” in this community and order, unity, etc.
The vampire community network is about communication, debate…and I’m not going to avoid tough subjects; you may disagree, but here is my opinion and my reasons.
There are no votes or offices the leaders hold, they didn’t apply for a position. They are called “leaders” because many people saw how hard they worked for the community and because of what they did and who they were. That goes for all of them regardless of house or affiliation.
That doesn’t say that what they do is always right but they are trying for the most part. Everyone has a choice: they can either get involved in the community or they can just listen in and take part without getting involved. Those who care enough to take the time and get involved and try to provide venues, publications and generally assist in any way they can are often criticized due to the “nature of the beast”. We are all different with different ideas of how things should be done.
The fact is that people want to get together and have places to go whether on the internet or in real life… Let me use an example:
In my city, we have a very small goth scene. We have alot of alternative people, thousands in fact just within the city. All of the local establishments and venues have moved Goth nights to Mondays or other lousy days and most of our festivals and socials have died. There is only one social left and it dies after this next month; the next one is the last one. They have a message board; the website died long ago. There’s about 50 people on the message board now and most don’t bother posting anymore.
Everyone says “Why don’t we have a good place to go? Why don’t we have a scene? Why can’t we get together?”
I can tell you why. The “Leaders” of this scene in this city of 650,000 are not at fault. Sure, rumors fly that it is due to their efforts or that so and so is arrogant. The actual fact is that it is due to the people in the scene. These “leaders” just came in and tried, they put years into trying to help others who enjoyed the same music, wore the same clothes, liked the same things. The people say they want a big scene but they don’t want order or affiliations. Well, really, could anyone throw large events and get lots of people there without order and affiliations? The people judge everyone around them: are they gothy enough to be a part of their crowd? They harass those who believe differently or like things that they don’t. Even the bands are tired of it; they play in Germany and Europe or tour the States. These 50 people honestly believe that they alone can do it all, but they aren’t about to throw the events or support those who try to. Let’s be honest, these 50 people may be independent but they are going to have nowhere to go and it’s their own fault.
Being a leader regardless of what scene or community is the most thankless and risky job one can have. Most didn’t ask for it, they’re just being themselves and doing what they believe in. They most usually make no money off of it, are called down for it and judged mercilessly by all. When they do something good, it’s expected of them and when they make a bad decision, how dare they? They very often get very little if any support from those who enjoy the benefits of what they have built. Yet, they go and continue doing it, most often without complaint.
There are thousands of vampires everywhere screaming for more, more events, more facts and information, more support. That is not going to happen without affiliations, without leaders setting aside their differences and without organization. These are the facts that the leaders know and that the people for the most part do not understand. Everyone here who has lead in any way knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Some sort of affiliation or organization is required for any scene or community to thrive in any way. Like it or not, some form of unity is needed. There are bad leaders but there are also bad waitresses… shall we fire them all?
This modern community is still unorganized, though many of us are trying hard and some small amounts of organization have occurred. In my opinion, lumping all organizational attempts and leaders into one pile and turning your back on all organization is ignorant. The founders are the reason that we found each other, they are the reason that we can disagree about the paths they chose, they were the first to take the challenge upon themselves of creating everything that brought us together. Sure, since then we have all built little pieces, but most of us link to others and go find the information we need to put our little piece together in the form we choose. They built the foundation, because of them, you can get that information. Just like without your mother, you wouldn’t exist. Without the founders, the community that you enjoy would not be here and none of us would be able to complain about anything. You do not have to love them, follow them or agree with them all the time, but you should at least give credit where credit is due.
I say, put a spotlight on yourself and have 500 people or 50,000 people watch your every move and see how shiny you come out. I’ll lay bets that every one of us looses our gloss.
“Judge not, less you be judged yourself” — my personal motto.
AMEN TO THAT!!!!! The most common question that I am asked over here is, “By what merit do you run the A.V.C. [Australian Vampire Community]?” or “So you’ve ‘made yourself’ a leader…” and so on. The fact is that I do what I am doing because no-one else is and no-one seems to want to but someone has to. I freely admit that I’m probably not the best person to do it, but if I don’t, who will? No-one. For the record, I try to avoid the term ‘leader’. I prefer to think of myself as someone who’s just there to help, as “leader” sounds like I am seeking authority or power and I’m not. I try to avoid that image as it makes people resistant to communing with us.
That’s what the term “elder” is for. Although “leader” is also appropriate. “Leader” is NOT necessarily a political designation; it merely means those who lead, those who organize things, and give direction.
A good leader needs to strive to keep the community’s best interests in mind, and even put the community’s needs and concerns above his/her own. A good leader is a strong leader, but also someone who listens to his/her followers (which word is not a dirty word; nor does it necessarily imply “sheeple” or mindless herd-people). A good leader will also not place him or herself upon a pedestal, but will be there, amongst the others, listening, helping, supporting, etc. The others will naturally look to this individual for guidance, or leadership, and view him or her as a leader, and worthy of respect. A good leader will not let this respect that is given unto him or her, or his/her position in the community, go to his or her head. A good leader will periodically (sometimes on a daily basis, even) do a self-check to make sure his or her motives remain selfless and not self-serving. But, also keep in mind that helping others will also help themselves, and there is nothing wrong with that.
There are many of these types among us. There are many among us who wish to be viewed as leaders or elders. It’s not an ego thing. To lead is to serve others. Sometimes this is done at great expense (financial, social, mental, physical, family, etc.), and it requires dedication, because sometimes it seems that no matter what you do, you can’t do NOTHIN’ right! A good leader knows when to listen to others and when to make his/her own decisions and stand up for what s/he believes in, rather than swaying in the wind, drifting with every difference of opinion, argument, belief, or suggestion.
“Leader” is not a dirty word, but it can be a dirty job, and thankless as hell. But a good, strong leader will remain dedicated and true. Because they genuinely care. And that drives them, even when anybody else would have given up, or buckled under various pressures.
A leader has the right to be proud, but remains humble. S/he is worthy of much respect, but demands none or little. A leader gives back to the community what the community gives to them, and more sometimes, in a form that is useful to the community.