The Curse of Power
By Koulila Brahim
Morocco World News
Kenitra, Morocco, May 1, 2012
Man, by nature, likes to possess things and be in a position of power.
Naturally, nobody likes to be a subaltern or be inferior to others. As such, people struggle, learn, obtain high diplomas and fight to reach high posts. Some people even believe that through power they can protect themselves or compensate for something wanting in them, as it were. In this respect, a lot of politicians do their best to become ministers, mayors, governors and, above all, presidents.
They do this to feel secure – some of them, indeed, have some programs that without power would not be carried out— and control their environment for that matter. Still, democracy seems to be a referee between power and people themselves: In the (modern) Occident, presidents are themselves controlled by laws, which makes sticking to power rather hard, if not harmful. In the Arab world, Africa and some parts of Asia where the democratic process is still fledgling, if not inexistent, presidents stick to power like babies gripping to their mothers’ breasts.
Indeed, the Arab Spring has shown that power has its own curse and that being obsessed by it yields to horrible results. The Arab leaders who have been ousted so far all paid dear for loving power too much, not to mention that their “sicknesses” has plunged the Arab world into benightedness.
Power seems to have sharp teeth. Why should Gaddafi, the former president of Libya, spend more than 40 years as the leader of Libya? Why should Mubarak, the former present of Egypt, rule it for more than three decades? Why should Ben Ali, the former president of Tunisia, rule it for more than 23 years and, to top it all, embezzle his people’s money? These people spent many years ruling their countries without being able to push them forward—this is typical of most Arab leaders. They knew that their “obstinacy” was not good for them nor for their nations, yet they ignored the voices of the opposition.
This is what made them face tragic ends: they wanted to enjoy power and stay in their fancy palaces just to satisfy their egos, not because they had serious programs in mind. However, power should not be handled as such. When we feel unable to give more or do better than the others, it is much better to give them the floor instead of ruining our lives and the others’. In other words, power should never be an end, but only a means, or else it might harm us.
They could have spared themselves those tragic ends. When a country’s peoples start protesting against the leader, this government should either quit or start a serious and deep process of reforms. Indeed, opposition normally foreshadows a huge wave of violence and anarchy that presidents should not underplay. Unfortunately, most Arab leaders have fallen in this trap; they underestimated the capacities of the Arab youth and think that these people would not go further, as the likes of Gaddafi and Ben Ali had been accustomed to being obeyed and feared.
For instance, Gaddafi could have stepped down many years ago to prevent a shameful end like the one he encountered. Being obsessed by power, arrogant – I would say naïve, for things never remain the same—and foolish, he thought that Libya had become his own property and that it was his right to pass it on to his sons, which was a fatal mistake. Likewise, Ben Ali and his family, though corrupt, wanted to go further in their oppression, thinking that the Tunisians were stupid and that rebelling against the government would not happen.
As for Mubarak, he showed how power had made him sick when he tried in one of his last speeches to bluff the rebels. Such an attitude confirms one thing: Power made Mubarak and his cronies blind that they thought nobody could topple them. Nonetheless, history and peoples’ determination and will gave them a good lesson.
Leaders should be visionaries. If you want to rule a nation, you must be alert and respond to your people’s needs as quickly as possible. Sometimes, leaders cannot do it and fail to satisfy everybody’s needs.Then, one should resign, which is, incidentally, part of alertness. Actually, I cannot but say that American and European politicians, including presidents, often prove to have this capacity of anticipating their peoples’ reactions: A minister will resign immediately after making a serious mistake.
Sometimes, they apologize in public to absorb their people’s anger, which is a kind of intelligence. On the other hand, their Arab counterparts are rather self-confident and do not care about anyone until they lose everything: power, money, love, self-esteem and sometimes even their lives.
It goes without saying that Gaddafi, Ben Ali, Mubarak and the president of Syria, Bachar Al-assad, made the same mistake and couldno longer retreat quietly. They could have spared themselves, as well as their nations, all the chaos and trouble happening now had they resigned earlier.
The concept of power seems to be rather subtle. One must handle it carefully. No one, whatsoever, can rule a nation forever, and those who believe in the opposite are totally mistaken. As such, when the Arab leaders abuse power, exploit their peoples, embezzle their money, power itself makes them pay for their mistakes. Those who love it too much are bound to fall in the trap of tyranny. The bottom line is that if power could speak, it would tell us, “don’t abuse me or enjoy me too much; if you cannot use me for the public good, leave me in peace, please, or I will do you harm.”
Koulila Brahim is a Moroccan teacher of English and essayist. He lives in Kénitra, Morocco. He obtained his M.A. (Studies in English language and culture) from Ibn Tofail University, Kénitra (Morocco) in 2010. He is interested in Morocco’s politics.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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