I have been doing alot of thinking about heretics lately. Heretics are the necessary leaders of the future. Heretics, challenging the status quo, create new movements.
Marketing guru Seth Godin writes in Tribes: “Heretics are engaged, passionate and more powerful and happier than everyone else…. Challenging the status quo requires a commitment, both public and private. It involves reaching out to others and putting your ideas on the line…. Heretics must believe. More than anyone else in the organization, it’s the person who’s challenging the status quo, the one who is daring to be great, who is truly present and not just punching the clock who must have the confidence of her beliefs” (p. 49). Heretics face fear and refuse to back down. Heretics are curious, ready to venture down new paths. Heretics seek something that is remarkable (p. 35).
Parker Palmer in Let Your Life Speak writes about one amazing heretic: Rosa Parks. Palmer sees Rosa Parks as one example of a person who decides that they can no longer “act on the outside in a way that contradicts some truth about themsleves that they hold deeply on the inside” (p. 32).
On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks in Montgomery Alabama decided to sit down at the front of bus, in seats reserved from whites only. Some years later a grad student asked Rosa Parks: “Why did you sit down that the front of the bus that day?” Her answer was: “I sat down because I was tired.”
Rosa Parks did not mean that her feet were tired, rather she meant that “her soul was tired, her heart was tired, her whole being was tired of playing by racist rules, of denying her soul’s claim to selfhood” (Palmer 32-33).
Rosa Parks was a heretic—we need more like her. Maybe this is a good New Year’s Resolution. Not to simply accept what is, but to see what is contrary to the way this world should be and say–enough; no more; I am tired.
May the ranks of the heretics increase! More on heretics to come.