The Correlation Between an Event and the Leaders it Creates | Teen Ink

The Correlation Between an Event and the Leaders it Creates

August 10, 2022
By dkim051112 BRONZE, Fullerton, California
dkim051112 BRONZE, Fullerton, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “We are not makers of history, we are made by history”. Throughout time, we can foresee the outcomes of a situation without facing its consequences, especially through the mistakes and achievements of historical leaders. Despite many differences within themselves, a majority of leaders are created by societal events and arise to answer the needs of society. Leaders become leaders because they provide stability, represent the voice of the people, and assure changes, in a society that desperately needs it. 

Many historical leaders came into power during times of war and chaos by promising stability and fulfillment of societal needs. 

As a general and statesman, Gaius Julius Caesar became a member of the First Triumvirate and gained military victories against Rome’s enemies, extending Roman territory to the Atlantic Ocean. According to, Caesar gained fame, wealth, and loyalty from his soldiers, all of which assisted in his rise to power. Conflicts between Caesar and the Senate plunged Rome into a civil war. Caesar eventually defeated his enemies, and as stated in Penelope.UChicago, allied with Egypt, and became the dictator of Rome. He gave his soldiers land, gave bread to the people, and granted Roman citizenship to those born outside Rome. This made him very popular amongst society and brought stability to Rome, as his soldiers and subjects stayed loyal to him and followed his wishes for their benefit. Stability was what made the Roman Empire great; the main factor as to why it became the center of culture and education. noted that through the changes Caesar imposed, lawyers, doctors, and intellectuals flocked to Rome, granting it an influx of academic and cultural stability. The impact of stability can be seen following Caesar’s death when Rome fell into another civil war. Caesar’s military victories amidst the existing chaos allowed for his rise to power, and without the support from his subjects, Caesar would never have been able to seize power.

Following Caesar comes Napoleon Bonaparte, French general and emperor of the Second French Republic. Acclaimed for his revolutionary military organization (Napoleonic Warfare) and his Napoleonic Code, Napoleon helped bring about stability and equality throughout Europe through his code. states that the Napoleonic Code granted freedom of religion, eliminated privileges based on birth, and required government jobs to be given based on merit. Napoleon gave the people of Europe a law code everyone had to abide by, providing stability within society. This gave society time for peace and recuperation, allowing them to return to their lives with more improvements. It also ensured safety for people who were terrified for their lives during the Reign of Terror. Although it could be seen that Napoleon created this stability, it is prevalent that he is remembered today because he was able to provide France with the stability that had been absent from their lives for years. 

Stability is crucial to many people, as it allows them to achieve more. Because stability is the basis of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the physiological systems of humans require stable conditions to survive. Human beings possess neurons that lean toward comfort and predictability, a phenomenon called neuroplasticity. Frontiers in Psychology classifies neuroplasticity as the brain's ability to adapt its structure in response to experience. A tree’s roots are a combination of thick and thin roots, the thick roots have developed because they are surrounded by a plethora of nutrients and have received more resources from the tree to grow. The thick roots represent situations our minds have classified as yielding positive results, and the precarious roots represent the events that have little success and therefore do not receive resources. Humans crave successful outcomes which is why we crave safety and familiarity; we already know the results are positive. There are levels to the amount of stability that people strive for, however, some people seek adventure while others need security. Yet both examples possess a level of stability that all human beings chase after. Followers yearn for stability through leaders, wanting a leader who provides a solid foundation so that they are relieved from the pressure of the unknown. However, this stability can be a double-edged sword; too much stability becomes totalitarianism while too little stability leads to anarchy. If stability cannot be found in a leader, we replace him or form societies and groups to practice stability in the form of laws and regulations. This drives our instinctual want for tribalism and is a key factor of sociology. 

In addition to stability, leaders also come into power because they promise people a voice and meet their needs, offering people an outlet to express their opinions and allowing them to feel acknowledged.

Leaders like Vladimir Lenin and Fidel Castro are often painted as evil, totalitarian leaders to some, while regarded as heroic visionaries and compassionate rulers to others. After seeing the hardships that the Russians faced under Tsar Nicholas II, Lenin vowed to bring about equality in Russia, and after familiarizing himself with Marxist ideology, Lenin concluded that communism was the answer to solve Russia’s struggles. Lenin rallied many Russians (who were furious with the situation in Russia) toward his cause. The suffering created a need for societal change and the Russian peasants wanted a strong leader who could take them out of oppression. Lenin’s speeches, filled with passion and charisma, inspired the Russians to denounce the Tsar and demand reform, allowing Lenin and the Bolsheviks to seize control of Russia and transform it into the USSR. Like Lenin, Fidel Castro saw his people suffering under the tyrant Fulgencio Batista, who had turned Cuba into a police state, revoking many peoples’ rights. The sufferings that the Cubans felt under Batista, caused growing sentiments of revolution, and according to PBS News, when Fidel Castro led a revolution against Batista, he was met with rallying support from the Cubans. Both Russia and Cuba saw society undergoing severe hardships and in need of a strong, charismatic leader to deliver them out of suffering to stability.  

Likewise, Adolf Hitler, the most notorious leader in history, could be seen as a product of his circumstances; acting the way he did because of what was happening around him. Hitler was a soldier in WWI and seeing Germany’s defeat made him bitter. Hitler blamed the government for their defeat and the acceptance of the Treaty of Versailles, and once he was released from prison, he began to spread his ideas all around Germany through his Nazi Party, reigniting German nationalism within many people through his fiery speeches and his book Mein Kampf. Hitler was able to pick a scapegoat in German society to blame for the humiliation of Germany, primarily the Jews, whom he blamed for the loss of the war. Sadly, antisemitism was common in many places throughout Europe, like Russia, which stated pogroms, defined by the Holocaust Encyclopedia as an organized massacre of Russian Jews. This use of a scapegoat during Germany’s lowest point proved effective as Hitler was able to coax Germany to regain “German pride” through genocide and warfare. This satisfied the wants and voice of the people, who in hopes of a greater Germany, supported Hitler. 

Humans have an instinctual need to be heard by others. SchoolofLife delves into this issue, stating that human beings want acknowledgment for certain feelings; we want our sufferings to be understood and our anxieties noticed. We don’t need others to agree with what we are feeling, yet we crave validation for these emotions. Validation shows us that our emotions are respected and creates a space for our emotions to exist. Through validation, we can confirm that others feel that our emotions are real, valued, and important. TIME Magazine narrated a study done at University College London and Aarhus University in Denmark, that suggested that within our brain is a compartment associated with rewards that become more active when others agree with and reinforce our opinions. They have even claimed that by examining individuals’ level of activity within this section, scientists could predict who was more likely to be the most influenced by others’ opinions. This formulates why people form groups and society. Stability is often reached within like-minded individuals, and people who develop opinions similar to one another begin to form tribes. These tribes are formulated to help fulfill our need for, as social creatures, validation.

Leaders come into power not only through political and military campaigns but through society's demand for social change. Leaders echo society’s reactions to their immediate environment on many issues, including race and gender.

Susan B. Anthony was a women's rights activist whose efforts eventually led to improved women's rights. Her speeches rallied men and women to her cause, as she was a well-educated woman who could persuade others through her rhetoric. Her efforts eventually led to women's suffrage, which cemented her in history as a leader in gender equality. But in addition to certain events, the timing of events and the social climate during that event can deter potential leaders from rising to the top. For example, Sojourner Truth, an African American who vied for women and African American rights, was largely ignored by society because of her African American heritage. In addition, described that because she grew up as a slave, Truth was not able to receive a formal education like Anthony, which put her at a disadvantage. Truth is widely disregarded next to Anthony because Anthony fit a social standard set in society at that time as a white woman who was very well educated, which shows that events, as well as timing, allowed Anthony to become a leader in women's activism, compared to an overlooked counterpart.

Martin Luther King Jr. is perhaps the most notable activist in American history who sought to fight against the segregation rampant in America. His organization of peaceful protests and boycotts dismantled the influence of segregation in America and through his courage and sacrifice, allowed him to become a respected activist and historical figure. Yet there were other combatants against segregation who are not as widely known as King, such as Bayard Rustin, who also fought against segregation but was met with dejection. Rustin, along with King, used peaceful methods to combat segregation. However, the New York Times revealed that he was largely ignored by other civil rights organizers because of his sexuality; in the early stages of the segregation movement, civil rights leaders tried to keep Rustin in the shadows, as they were fearful of having their names and movement tainted by Bayard's sexuality. This further supports the idea that social stigmas and norms play a part in what makes a leader; society often looks for a desirable role model to serve as a leader and mold the leader into what they want; a token that they find acceptable. Events do contribute to a leader’s fame, but society tends to idolize those they think should be idolized, not solely based on action alone. Many individuals with the same achievements as historical figures are largely ignored because society wants a figurehead that the world will approve of.

Social activists are still revered in society today, as society memorializes individuals who stood against the system despite challenges. However, society must feel that a leader is a worthy role model, based on race, religion, gender, ideals, and character.  

Through observing history, we can see that events create the leaders that we see. When times are tough, society searches for stability, representation, and social change, because as human beings, we are wired to do so. These wants and needs coalesce into the leader that we choose, whether good or bad. Knowing this, we must take action and be in charge of our future. Using history as our window to the future, we must applaud and follow those who truly give us stability, representation, and desired social change, not individuals who use these factors as pretenses to push their agenda.

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The author's comments:

I have always been interested in history and politics so analyzing the way that leaders come into power was a topic that has always intrigued me. 

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