While reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, I was on the hunt for examples of Lauren’s demonstration of leadership, even before she turns 18 years old and starts her journey north. Lauren isn’t a leader because she has a group of people backing up her beliefs and following her word. She grows into a leader from being aware of her surroundings and observing all the people around her and also by conducting her own research to draw her own conclusions and solutions, which is a big step before becoming a leader. She realizes that people will ignore a problem with the hopes that it will solve itself and return back to what they know as normal. She is proactive and takes action, not only for herself but for the others of her community also. Although she tries to warn others, she knows her age hinders anyone believing what she has to say and offer: survival skills. Another leadership skill that Lauren cultivates is knowing that change is needed in order to progress.
With Lauren’s ability to feel others’ pain as well as her own (hyperempathy), I found myself battling to understand if this was a strength or a weakness for Lauren. Although she believed she would looked as weak and become a target if others found out, I believe it helped her humanity and compassion, which was also needed for her to be a leader and build her Earthseed communities. The question I pose is can a leader hide their “flaws”? If not, that does not make them less than a suitable leader, right?
Side Note: For me, the fact that Lauren Olamina’s birthday was July 20 resonated with me because my birthday is July 21 and in our world astrology is something that could be dated back to BCE time period and I, for one, believe and am interested in being more knowledgeable in it. The zodiac sign Cancer is associated with birthdays between June 20- July 22. We are taught that empathy is the ability to understand and share the emotions/feelings an of another. Empathy happens to be a main trait of the zodiac sign, Cancer, which gave me a different way to connect to Lauren and interested to read on to see how she overcomes.