My conversation with a friend stumbled on the topic of governance which ultimately is about the relationship of the governed with the governor. There are only just two ways to make a person submit to the will of another -- by force or by persuasion. The choice of which approach to take is with the decision makers and the consequence of their action is also theirs; there is no getting away from consequences. Which action is better for the governed depends on the spiritual make-up of the perpetrator of the decision. The doer’s compassion, patience, perseverance and the status of the ego all play their part.
While democracies have their power base planted in the will of its people, its practice however often falls into the foibles of our primeval attitudes. More than often times when we have power over others there is the sense of urgency that pushes us to get things done as we wish. And human nature being the bigger part selfishness, its manifestations such as arrogance and hubris wants things done inflexibly and with urgency. This aspect of urgency appears to give the perpetrator power over another. It confirms this edict of power we have over the other by not being bothered to take the time to hear another point of view. This urgency thus makes us force issues and dictate their outcome with scant regard to the fact that by doing so we put the subordinate in bondage and that is just the opposite of freedom.
But then, when the role of the governor gets reversed to being one of the governed, the remorse and the agony of such a situation is quickly realized. I guess this is what is meant by “power blinds”, for when we possess this moment of authority, impermanence of the moment is never the resident thought. It is as if the moment will extend forever. This is sometime called delusion also -- a mental condition that removes one from the reality of a situation. When we were children many of us read the story of the emperor and his new clothes.
It is thus incumbent on us to realize that the table will turn always in a democracy. And the balance of nature is such that nothing is permanent. Today gives way to tomorrow, our bodies age, our clothes and our toys go out of fashion, everything has a determined life – a time to depart, and so on. Our governance of a nation is also subject to such vagaries of this life of form.
The more sustainable way to govern would be through consultation and persuasion; respecting other points of view and coming to compromises that don’t bank of winner taking all. This is what our good Book teaches us about governance too and is, by the way, the guiding tenet of our People’s Majlis in
How it lives this is the test of its capability to uphold the noble trust we
have given it to be our –the people’s -- truthful representative in crafting
the laws that we as a nation would live by. That is the compact we make when we
drop our vote in the box. So, the better path to govern is that path of persuasion
and guidance such that change is invoked from within each of us by realizing
the folly of our dream in a world of impermanence and the artificial nature of
change when governance is enforced. Sustained harmony and wellbeing will be our
second nature when we choose that noble path of “shura”. A true sense of
brotherhood will prevail. But sadly, separation, selfishness, greed and envy seem
to be the visible flares that illuminate our chosen path of competitiveness, pleasure
and urgent gratification demands. Can we break out of this mould that keeps us