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Let's get down to basics. Being the leader of a group is more than just the hard work of raising dust devils in the back yard or zapping a friend's TV antenna so they can get HBO. Leading a group offers a lot of perks. You get a lot of ego strokes, you get to divide up babies just like Solomon and you even get to keep the leftovers from the potlucks at moon feasts. After all you have put in a lot of long, hard hours and cashed in a lot of empties to win the coveted title of "High Poop-di Ha of the Infinite Invisibility". And you want to keep it! The bottom line, the final word in keeping your position on top of the heap is spelled P-O-W-E-R. These hints are concerned with helping you keep it.
In the busy modern craft of today there are many ways that your power base can be eroded. The two most likely ways you can end up preaching to an empty circle are through the insidious inroads made by INFORMATION and DISCUSSION. These twin curses have upset more High Poop-di-Has than Carter has little liver pills.
Information is the worst threat. The more a follower is acquainted with history, anthropology, psychology, socio-dynamics...really, any area that requires an individual to exert himself mentally, you are in for questions you don't really want to answer. The very best way to deal with this sticky situation is to avoid it. Recruit the immature and the fanatic. They don't bring really tasty goodies to feasts, but they are good ego boosters. They are expendable and fiercely loyal for no particular reason.
If you find you are being pestered by an "intellect" (they should have never gotten through your screening) you have to quickly learn to manage information more effectively. Don't worry. Managing information is easier than it seems. Newscasters do it every night. First, Adopt an attitude of "ask me anything", then make sure you don't have any answers and don't know where to get them. Create a vacuum! Yes, nature abhors a vacuum but it is your strongest weapon in the war for ignorance. Second is the wild goose chase, a tried and true method of dealing with anyone who persists in asking questions. Send a troublesome individual on a few of these. Tire them out, and they will go away sooner or later. When they leave, the stage is set for you to shake your head solemnly and expound at length on how they were not ready to learn what you had to offer. This act is very impressive to newcomers.
Reassure your followers that they don't have to keep up on current thoughts in and about the craft. After all, books and magazine subscriptions are expensive. Imply that they will learn all that they need from you by hinting at the "secrets of the craft" that yet await them. If they are adamant about reading, call their attention only to those items that reinforce your point of view (you need all the backup you can get). The Xian (as in Xmas) fundamentalists have developed this sort of information management into an art form. "Information Management is next to Godliness". I'm sure Mr. Falwell has that embroidered on a pillow slip somewhere. You might want to write him for a needlepoint kit.
On to Discussion...
Discussion with other groups must be limited. If they don't share your point of view, all contact with them should be eliminated. After all, your immature followers do mature and fanatics mellow out. The free exchange of differing ideas has a justifiably bad reputation for expanding an individuals craft viewpoint. And THAT is deadly to the sacred position of High Poop-di Ha.
There is an effective means of terminating troublesome contacts with other groups, while at the same time confirming your position as the center of attention. It is the practice of the "Fine Art of Self-Righteous Indignation"! The premier example of this was the medieval Church. When it met with a conflicting view, such as a scholar pointing out that the Church was rewriting history or physics, the Church would denounce him as a "minion of Satan". Usually the scholar was hauled off and put to the Question. What's the truth, more or less, compared to the self Righteous Indignation of God's Chosen...right?
Remember, you have to slam the door tightly on any new ideas! This takes dramatic measures. You don't want conflicting information coming in, and you certainly don't want your s/h/e/e/p/ followers wandering off.
Pick a public occasion and invade a circle or burst into a study group. Most importantly, make sure your group is around you. After all, the coming performance is really for them. Rant, pound your breast, whatever you need to do, to get across the idea of YOU as the poor, persecuted victim. Make this crystal clear to your group and they will stick to you like you were dipped in crazy glue. If anyone in your group has ever had a course in group dynamics, send them on a wild goose chase that evening. They might tumble to what you are up to, and besides they are probably asking too many questions anyway.
When facing the m/i/n/i/o/n/s/o/f/S/a/t/a/n/ opposing group, be personally offensive if you can. Call them picky, heretical, egotistical, perverse, etc. Anything you can get away with (wailing in the background is a nice touch). To keep your group successfully insulated from differing ideas, you have to clearly label the opposition in the minds of your followers. People just LOVE tags! Now, this next point is important, so listen up! You must make it clear that you want no further contact with the opposing group. Try to affect a tone in your voice that conveys "this is a regrettable decision but it just has to be", like the tone Billy Graham takes on when he talks about sinners. This gives you a twofold bonus. First, it gets the word to "them" in no uncertain terms and, second, it gets the word to your people that it would not be wise for anyone who wants to remain a part of your group to have any contact with "those" you have just judged unacceptable. This sort of frontal assault generally alienates both groups as well as every individual in them. There will be no information exchange, no open discussion and very little growth. But what do you care, you're safe.
One warning though; If for any reason you think the other group will simply laugh at your overacting, don't chance a face-to-face confrontation. Keep the performance within your own group. If you have been a good information manager that should be effective enough.
Although you are one of the last "High Poop-di-Ha's of the Infinite Invisibility" in the craft, you belong to an ancient society that can be traced through most of the world's major religions. You exemplify rigidity, closed-mindedness and religious manipulation. You have a lot to be self-righteous about! In order to prevent your kind from dying out completely, you have to remember to stringently restrict the information flow to your group and terminate all open discussions with outsiders holding differing views. If you take to heart these few pointers you won't go the way of the Great Auk and the Passenger Pigeon.
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