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A Matter of Accountability


We, the Government

By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer

Many things have happened, both in our land and beyond, since
we wrote our last column. We live in a digitally shrinking world. Thanks to international flights and the Internet, mystic John Donne’s words ring particularly true today: “No Man is an Island..” Consequently, we must view recent happenings through the perspective of history.
We ached when we saw the survivors of the Holocaust walk through the dreaded Gate of Death and re-visit the gas chambers and crematorium of Auschwitz. A mad dictator needed to find a scapegoat for the German people’s anger against a failed economy. He created the myth of the Jewish Ogre and the horror of the Final Solution. Osama bin Laden also tried racial extermination. Sounds familiar?
The British Royal family have glued the British people together. It survived the abdication of a king when he married an American divorcee: they then exiled themselves in Paris. But the current Essex crisis is different. Harry and Meghan spurned a royal title for their son, shunned Royal duties, intended to earn their own living, wanted to spend much of their time in America, but wished to retain their mansion in the royal estate in Windsor. So, if the shibboleths of tradition can be thrown out of the window by the most scrutinised Royal family in the world, surely the carefully contrived aura surrounding lesser mortals can be jettisoned? Many of our erstwhile maharajas gave themselves semi-divine status. But hype and hoopla can’t bestow that status on elected netas, today. Even though a crow flaunts the borrowed feathers of a peacock, it still remains a crow!
The belligerent, egoisticm Donald Trump, who is reputedly the most powerful man on earth, is having his allegedly dirty linen examined in public. If POTUS can be charged with manipulating state institutions, can anyone else, anywhere, be immune?
Brexit has happened. If the most influential, multi-national, economic bloc can fall apart because of internal conflicts, can a dictatorial centrist regime prevail over dedicated, diverse, cultural forces fighting for their identities? Malaya broke into Malaysia and Singapore because the Malays refused to accept the hegemony of Chinese-dominated Singaporeans.
Most recently, all the monolithic might of the People’s Republic of China could not stifle the voice of the people of tiny Hong Kong. And though it could curb the agitation of its ethnic Muslim minority it could not contain the spread of the microscopic Coronavirus. Nor could we prevent it from reaching our shores. Ideas are more infectious than viruses and it took just a few generations for the idea of Christianity, centred on an alleged criminal executed for sedition, to spread out of its Jewish homeland.
Also, we must not try to reduce the generic to justify the specific. In generic terms, the President of Brazil is associated with the, allegedly devastating Amazonian forest fires. He has been accused of turning a blind eye to these conflagrations because he wants the support of his right wing cattle farmers. But we cannot jump to the conclusion that, by inviting him to the Republic Day Parade, we endorse the burning of the Brazilian rain forests. Diplomacy and politics are never a matter of black and white: there are always hundreds of shifting shades in between.
Similarly, we believe that all conflicts can be resolved by dialogue. It is always the duty of the stronger to open talks with the weaker because the stronger has more options at its command. That includes the power to batter the weaker by brute force. But when that happens there is always the likelihood that their opponents will regenerate many more heads like the hydra. That is what happened when the Brits tried to suppress Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent Freedom Movement.
The success of the Mahatma’s movement inspired Martin Luther King. One of the anthems of both leaders was the hymn “Lead Kindly Light”: an appeal for wisdom in all their decisions. Wise netas remember that they have a shelf life of five years. After that they have to court We, the Government again. We resent diktats, but we welcome dialogues.
Incidentally, John Donne’s poem ends with these ominous words: “Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee!”