There is nothing more fascinating to me than exploring beneath the surface of perception the motivations for our actions. In particular, over the past years, I investigated why we do not stand up more against what makes us sad and destroys us. And why, we continue to live a life in automatic mode, far from true love.
And as I was trying to find answers to my questions, I began a big treasure hunt, listening attentively to the world around me and analysing our multifaceted reality, changing glasses all the time.
Today, I would like to share with you one of the stories which inspired my research: the Silence of the Lambs, a 1991 American psychological horror film directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Ted Tally. adapted from Thomas Harris’ 1988 novel.
From this modern fairy tale, we can at least extract four powerful lessons about the conditions to grow an exceptional civilisation, here there are for you:
1/ Our patriarchal culture makes us follow the wrong heroes
The first surprise with this movie is coming from an encounter with our strong patriarchal culture and why we need to question it, at the risk of following the wrong heroes.
Is it linked to our sensitivity to a paternalistic and reassuring attitude? Or, is it like in a soccer game, our deep conviction that one cannot help but be impressed by the less subtle contributions of male players?
Anyway, the first thing that struck me with The Silence of the Lambs is how much we focus on Hannibal Lecter. The male character played by Anthony Hopkins seems to grab most of our attention, with his natural born charisma, and dark side, when in reality he is probably the least complex.
- As a perfect illustration, when the case is over, at the end of the movie, Hannibal continues his life in the obscure world he has chosen for himself. A state that leaves him as a weak man in the face of evil temptations, lost in a vicious circle that makes him sad, isolated. and soon back to prison. Ultimately, this story shows that he could not learn from Clarice, who would have been a precious source of light.
- And, the same patriarchal glasses give us a picture of Clarice as a pretty young ambitious woman, ready to do anything to climb the ranks. Rather naïve and unfinished, whose luck is to have met Hannibal and to benefit from his invaluable knowledge.
Before going further, let me tell you that beyond genders, the point here is to say that are naturally more inspired by the traditional characteristics of male leadership (command & control, dominant, authoritarian,…), although these are not traits leading to more success (i.e. a happy society).
2/ What it says about the best leadership skills faced with complex issues
Unfortunately, when we do not question enough our point of view, we lose all the benefits coming from the story of Clarice, the character played by Jodie Foster.
So, with a more open look, Clarice becomes the perfect illustration of great leadership in challenging times.
She has the right attitude of someone who is brave, caring, and humble. A deeply committed character, embracing all her complexity, and obstinate to grow towards love despite her many challenges.
Faced with a serial killer, she is the only one who does not feel powerless. She is able to partner with the right experts and, to go deep below the surface of perception. All of this allows her to identify the real motivations for the murders, quickly finding the key to resolution.
3/ The importance of loving our fears
Another lesson is what saves Clarice from falling into the dark side with the other characters around her. And, it appears in the form of this creed inscribed on a tree, in which we can read: “Hurt – Agony – Pain – Love it or Die”.
At the read of this sentence, Clarice understands the need to confront all her fears and to love them. In fact, pursuing this goal will lead her towards emancipation and to become herself fully.
And through this unique growth path, she learns that:
- We grow best in pain
- We need to be open to take rites of passage
- We only learn from mistakes, never from successes.
- And, it’s only when confronting agony, that we can learn to find the right balance, for a gradual stretching, never violent, at the risk of losing all the benefits; and to set the good limits, with more and more assertion.
4/ From screams to silence
The final lesson is about the need to master our natural instinct for external validation. This is what maintains us in an imbalanced mode, at the mercy of the energies of others.
At the beginning of the story, Clarice is overwhelmed with the screams of the lambs, she is anxious and full of doubts. But as we progress into the story, we see Clarice gradually find silence and therefore peace and inner strength. Nothing can resist her anymore.
We learn two conditions in order to achieve this desired state of “silence”:
- She could finally share openly her trauma with Hannibal Lecter, a pre-condition to calm the mind before building inner confidence.
- Through her different rites of passage, she could learn to self-validate her intuition, without the need for external validation.
More Clarice and Hannibal confronting their fears and willing to learn will grow an exceptional civilisation, giving us all an opportunity to end our day in silence. And from there, we will be able to welcome more beauty.