We can learn from Marley’s example
In London over Easter I saw the Kevin MacDonald documentary film MARLEY which chronicled the reggae superstar’s rise from abject poverty in St. Ann, Jamaica to become an icon of popular music not just in Jamaica but worldwide.
Around the same time I viewed several episodes of a TV documentary series on Hitler and the Third Reich. After viewing these two documentaries, both riveting in different ways, I found myself comparing these two world famous players on the stage called life.
The one, Hitler, did all he could to establish himself as the dominant and supreme world leader using every duplicitous bone in his body, every ounce of guile, deceit, treachery and cunning he could muster in conjunction with a massive army, an intrepid air force with amazing strategic bombing capability, an impressively brainy, though warped and brutish leadership cadre.
This cadre of Hitler’s henchmen, as the documentary is titled, included Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann, Hermann Goring, Adolf Eichmann, Albert Speer, Heinrich Himmler, Wilhelm Keitel and other formidable Nazis.
Hitler also enlisted the help of a clutch of self- serving allies, employed German state-of-the-art technology and ramped up the imposing of his own indomitable, charismatic leadership style.
Yet, Hitler failed miserably in his quest to dominate the world, suffering ignominious defeat at the hands of the Russian, British and American war machine in 1945.
In February that same year, the year the second World War ended, there was born in St. Ann, a small lamentably poor village in Jamaica, a boy of mixed Afro-Jamaican and English blood who rose practically unassisted by man or machine from extremely humble beginnings to conquer the world as a reggae singer, folk poet, musician, humanist and Jah Rastafari devotee.
What came over in the documentary was Bob Marley’s amazing sense of self and sense of mission. Remarkably he managed to tame his vaulting ego very early in his music career. For instance, when members of his band strenuously objected to Bob opening a Commodores concert as lead supporting artist, Marley insisted that the band accept the role of second fiddle so to speak.
Marley was able to do this because he never lost sight of the big picture which was to take his music to the world and implant his Jamaican culture universally and in an endurable way. Marley was driven by a sense of purpose few possess.
His purpose was clear and foremost in his mind at all times for he was ever confident of his place in the world and what he was bringing to it. In time the world saw it was good, just and moral and so it embraced him across geographical, cultural, political, socio-economic, language and ethnic lines in a way and to an extent few others have been able to achieve.
Marley was able to pursue his dream and mission without the arrogance and egocentricity that often accompanies self awareness, opportunity and power. He was a man of the people and for the people. Not some of them but all of them.
The ultimate New Age philosopher he truly believed in the “Weare one” principle. In this sense we can all learn from the Marley example.
F. Hamley Case