History has witnessed the rise and fall of countless valiant leaders who came, fought, and conquered. Some failed with dignity, having never left the battle scene. Many are notable names today, revered on various occasions while the majority remains unacknowledged, and some forgotten in the annals of history. But there are some iconic figures who have left such an indelible mark that to deny them due respect will be a mockery of human existence itself.
Right from our childhood, we are taught to have an idol — someone who would inspire us to become a better version of ourselves — someone to emulate. However, as we grow older, it quite rarely happens that we actually aspire to become an idol ourselves. We have an inherent pessimistic tendency to push our spirits down constantly. “But how can I ALONE accomplish that?” sings a familiarly timid voice frequently in the back of our heads in the face of every new challenge or responsibility.
In this predicament, when we are doubtful of our own capabilities, sometimes taking a look back (or even around ourselves) is a way out. It helps us realise how one person can achieve tremendous things and inspire hundreds of others just by believing in themselves and their own potential.
Every Bangladeshi grows up listening to the history of the Liberation War and the bold leadership role taken up by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was already an influential political frontrunner, negotiating on behalf of and for the Bangali population. But his monumental speech at the Racecourse on 7th March remains testament to the power of his leadership.
One man's rebellious voice had ignited a fire so ferocious that it drove the whole populace of nation to prepare and take part in a fearless fight for freedom.
Embracing Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Non-Aligned Summit in Algiers in 1973, Fidel Castro remarked —
"I have not seen the Himalayas. But I have seen Sheikh Mujib. In personality and in courage, this man is the Himalayas. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas."
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro is yet another valiant fighter for the human struggle for parity and known for his ideology of a classless society. From quite a young age, Castro began participating in rebellions and upheavals. During his time in office, he brought revolutionary changes to the nation. This included turning Cuba into the first communist state in the Western hemisphere.
Another name who brought change in Cuba as an aide to Castro but whose rebellious nature shook the world, and inspires many still, is the Argentine Ernesto 'Che' Guevera.
As a military leader with a profound belief in Marxism, Che has left a powerful legacy that lives on even half-a-century after his demise. In fact, his unbreakable resilience even in the face of capture and death in the hands of the Bolivian army has strongly impacted millions, especially the youth.
Perhaps, life has its share of irony! The indomitable nature of Che makes him an icon and a significant figure in pop culture. One cannot help but be sceptical on how much of the Che following is actually a vision, or a capitalist agenda —the very notion he gave his life for— to cash in on his image.
'With great power comes great responsibility'-- is as true in the Marvel Universe as it is in our existential crisis. Just as these transformational leaders have been applauded for their remarkable achievements, they have also been subjected to grave scrutiny while being in the limelight.
This actually helps us to take into consideration that even leaders, like all normal human beings, are not infallible. And while even the greatest of the leaders have had a fair share of shortcomings, they do not overshadow their laudable accomplishments. In fact, they actually give us an important lesson to take away.
At the end of the day, to truly believe in the power of one, the first step to take is to start believing in your own self. Once you start believing in yourself and your capabilities, it becomes easier to make others believe in you.
Indeed, one person can truly move mountains, change the world, if they can believe that they can! After all, leaders are made; not born.
By Nafisa Faruque