• J Putnam

The Shadow King

The road to power and control is seldom a peaceful one. To achieve power, it must be seized and taken by force. Thrones are usurped by opportunistic warriors seeking to write their names in the annals of history. But the call to the throne is a powerful one. For many men, it can corrupt and transform them from the benevolent father of his people into the shadow king, the tyrant who will do whatever is necessary to maintain his hold on power.

The concept of the shadow king is seen throughout history, both factual and in legend. Cronos, the father of Zeus, devoured his children to prevent them from ever taking his place as ruler. In the Ottoman Empire, it was tradition for the heir to kill his brothers to ensure his claim and prevent his rule from ever being challenged.

If a man is to lead his people, or at the very least be worthy of being followed, he must work to ensure that all of his people are elevated and capable of leading if he were ever to fall. Still, the idea that he must always be on guard from being usurped should be noted. After all, all kings look over their shoulders.

As a father, I find myself faced with the possibility of one day being replaced by one of my sons, and the very thought of it makes me both swell with pride and contemplate my own mortality and ability to lead them. Every father wants his sons to be strong enough to take up the mantle of the family name and continue his legacy, but they also fear that they may not be up to the task. It is also in the back of my mind that should I fall short of my duties, one of my children should have to replace me before it is their time.

To mitigate these fears I see no other choice than to strive to become better with each day and learn new ways to match the unending challenges that arise. I also try to do more to prepare my children when the day finally comes for me to pass the crown. However, the fear of being surpassed is a significant one for many men, and they will actively work to hold their children back to remain at the top of the hierarchy.

These shadow kings have placed all of their self-worth in their role as the leader of the tribe, and because of it, they will stoop to whatever level necessary to keep that role. They have an illusion of immortality, that somehow or another, they will always be king as long as they never allow anyone else to become strong enough to take their place.

For a king to rule, he must always consider the continuance of his kingdom and foster the strength and virtues of his children whenever he can. All men will die as all men have, and leaving behind a tribe that is not self-sufficient is a crime above all crimes. By not accepting that one day he will have grown too weak and too old to support the weight of the crown, he is playing an active role in the extermination of everything that he worked to build.

A good king, a good father, will labor to prepare those coming just as much as he will work to prolong that fateful day. He must prepare those that will rule the future with the tools they will need and the wisdom he has to learn if he is to resist the call of the shadow.

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