I get confused when I hear statements on the news like "community leaders have called for calm" or "community leaders will be encouraged to host informative programs" or "assurances were provided by local community leaders" or "community leaders have launched a campaign"...
I want to ask you a simple question. Who are your community leaders?
Take a moment to think about that.
I don't know how I identify myself. And I'm not sure if that's a problem or not.
I don't have a religion.
I don't have a profession, as such. My career is a haphazard mish-mash of jobs. There's no chartered body which speaks on my behalf and asks me to submit to their rulings.
I am a member of a Trade Union. But they don't ask anything of me other than monthly fees. I'm free to listen to them or not.
I know a few of my neighbours. They're nice enough, but I don't share anything much with them other than a postcode. I doubt we'd band together for anything more than an ad-hoc litter pick - and that's unlikely to be organised by a "leader".
I don't follow sports, so have no answer when someone asks me who my team are. If the captain of the England squad runs a campaign about men's health then I'm unlikely to know who he is, let alone trust his advice.
I'm not a member of a political party. Even if I was, I doubt I'd follow all their edicts. I've got a local councillor and MP - I wouldn't describe their relationship to me as a leader.
Humans are a social species. I have friends - both online and meatspace. But I don't feel like I have a community.
I am a geek. Would I describe Torvalds and Doctorow as my "community leaders"? Nope!
I enjoy drinking beer and cider - I even go to festivals. I don't care what you drink, or if you don't drink. I don't care what CAMRA defines as "real" - if you enjoy it, drink it.
I love Star Wars, but who leads that community? I ignore the people who get upset that a person who doesn't look like them is now a protagonist. I didn't need to be lead to that conclusion.
I have opinions about LGBT+ rights. But I'd far rather listen to the experiences of my trans* friends than those from a self-appointed leader.
There are things I like, and people within those communities who opinions I find interesting. But I'd struggle to call them leaders.
Can I only define myself by the things that I'm not?
Am I missing out on some vital human experience?
I'm not naïve enough to think that I've derived my own personal philosophy - everyone is a composite product of their culture and environment.
But it troubles me. Everyone else seems to have a community, and a leader. Do I need a community? Do I need to be led?