Politics: Playing it safe, while keeping the peace

By the time you read this, dear citizen, it will be too late to do anything about it. We refer, of course, to that precious democratic right which you exercised on Thursday. No, not the vote… but going through the motions of pretending to ourselves that since the Elections Commissioner is still at his station, and all's right with the ballot, the mere fact that we have the franchise must mean that all will be well.

Well, well; we're no soothsayers, dear, but we're willing to wager that the well of a certain House by the lake is now chockfull of actors, sportspersons of either sex, and other assorted national asses (er, national assets) who have been placed there by you and I - but please don't bring me into this… I didn't vote: I'm not kidding myself any longer.

Call us cynical, spent, lackadaisical, if you like; but for the likes of us, the penny has dropped - and we're no longer pounding on the door of the polling booth in order to make an impression on the governance of our nation. Because we have come to believe that real people power lies in the really powerful - not the people. These powerful individuals fall into two categories: popes and presidents.

True religion

On the one hand, there are popes who have long since realized that true power lies in anonymity. This, as they well know, is exercised by being as public a figure as one can manage. Kissing babies, kissing fellow pontiffs, kissing terra firma - all in plain sight of the world at large. And in this respect, such popish leaders are just like politicians. Where they excel over their fellow high priests of religion for the masses, however, is in their practice of silence. Witness how no one - not tears or words; neither sentiment, nor sanctimoniousness - can shatter their equanimity.

On the other, there are presidents who have yet to acknowledge - let alone accept - that silence can sometimes be golden. Not content with tongue-lashing the public they claim to represent in the vernacular, they now seem keen to address non-issues in a language alien to them.

And if they retaliate to the public's apathy, indifference, or opprobrium with stern words and thinly veiled threats, they undermine the very exercise that they supposedly undertook. Namely, to include all people in their republican discourse, both personal and political. Although, it must be admitted, too many politicos who address national issues as well as multiethnic audiences in such a cosmetic fashion may have an altogether different agenda - that of petty, partisan, purely self-glory - in mind… methinks they speak with forked tongue. Don't you, dear?

Pigs might fly

But, of course, such executive misadventures could never take in Paradise Isle. We are blessed to have elected leaders who know when to hold their peace, and when to say their piece (even if they get their Ps and Qs mixed up from time to time). Pity, though, that their appointed and self-anointed followers are always shooting their mouths off in a manner that is not usually calculated to win friends and influence enemies. If that had been the case, the high priests of propaganda who strut and fret their petty hour upon our political stages would really won the world for us - election sloganeering notwithstanding. Ah, that was the key with some political stooges!

Only thing is, most ecclesiastical faux pas don't impact elections as such… because papist prelates, among other primates, aren't voted in by the people - just by their peers. And it remains to be seen in the wide world out there whether the pontifex maximus of a world religion presently under siege will speak out on the shocking abuse of children at pseudo-priestly hands, or wait out the storm. For every hullabaloo in the human junction generally passes away into silence, and the people return to their pleasant pastimes.

That is, until the next farce, fiasco, or imbroglio unfolds. By that time, this pope may have breathed his last benediction; unnamed presidents blasted their umpteenth congregations of faithless followers; and elections commissioners returned to the ashes and dust that lie gently on the sands of time. Now tell me honestly, dear: would you have voted any differently had you thought of all this beforehand? Not really! Because all of us (well, most, anyway) are born to play it safe and keep the peace…

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Politics: Playing it safe, while keeping the peace


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