Losing it at the top but staying in equilibrium

I was watching this sci-fi movie called Equilibrium a few days ago. For those who have not seen it, it is about a world without feelings, people are made to take daily dozes of a drug “Prozium” which suppresses their feelings. In this world there is no poetry, music or art, only utility. People who don’t take this medication are titled “sense offenders” and are subjected to execution.

So, it basically has all the movie-associated paraphernalia – action, execution, rebellion, drama (subtle to begin with but the intensity bubbles up within you due to the suppression visible on the scene). Anyhow, to cut a long story short, the sci-fi depicts the emotional turmoil of a highly placed official in the hierarchy, who has crossed over to the other side and is no longer a “believer” or a “supporter” of the system.

It set me thinking about what happens when someone who is at the top echelons in a company/group/society/tribe/battle loses faith in the concept, the hype, the mantra that is being touted as the reason of its very survival? The few options that one can follow and what people do when they follow their heart vs. mind…

1. Stay and fight – This would be open battle, which was the kind Subhash Chandra Bose attempted in his own way and Mahatma Gandhi achieved in his own way. Both stood and fought, refused to believe in what was established and left their mark on the establishment.

2. Quit, but don’t leave – This is a sure sign of self-deception and close to suicide. But many, many people choose to follow this path, convincing themselves of the very many reasons they had come in and refusing to accept the fact that they had changed and that probably promises were not delivered upon. The process of accepting the system, entering it, having faith, fighting for it had changed them – made them different people and now they wanted to do something different. But since they don’t accept it, they don’t leave.

3. Quit, dont’ leave and fight from within (under subterfuge) – This is the path the protagonist of the movie chose. He continued to remain within the system, as he was increasingly accepting his shift to the other side. Perhaps, it can happen more in movies than otherwise that someone overthrew an entire company/sect/tribe/society on his own. It takes time and sometimes centuries for the effect of an idea that was dominant to die and degenerate into a mere story.

4. Quit and leave – Many people do so. When they don’t believe in a cause any longer, people leave. Excuses can be many, but mostly at the top echelons people leave when the belief is dead.

So, how does the sytem deal with it when a senior member does one of the above or more than one of the above in his attempt to reconcile his own changing preferences/personality? What are the measures that a system can take to ensure that a change in a person at the higher ranks does not result in a domino effect on the division/group she is handling? What are the responsibilities of a person at the top vis-a-vis himself and the group for such a thing not affecting the members of the group adversely? This does not have ready answers and leads to the conflict between the person vs. group very often. Anybody, with any good answers/thoughts…pls do share, would love to hear your thoughts.

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