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Feature Article of Friday, 11 May 2012

Columnist: Awayevoo, Victor

A Calabash of Political Cola

“He who brings cola brings life” has been popularized by Chinua Achebe from communities that fancy cola nuts in social and economic transactions. Envelopes and polythene bags of money would seem to have replaced the calabashes of cola nuts in the global village. In a world of dualities, dichotomies, paradoxes, dilemmas and diatribes, offers and gifts of cola by politicians must be taken with sacks of salt (not a pinch of salt).

Politics should appropriately be a service institution that creates a peaceful environment for human progress. The message of politics however spans a wide range of issues ranging from hope, service and truth to deceits, trickery and savagery; a veritable calabash of wine, fruits and poison. “Caveat emptor” cautions citizens, as buyers and consumers of political messages, to carefully watch the demeanor and antics with which politicians display their wares to assess their levels of sincerity and moral maturity.

In life, we all pick up concepts from interactions in our environments, according to our individual personal natures and levels of awareness, and build them into the principles that constitute our philosophies and ideologies. Our preferences, goals and objectives flow from our perspectives and viewpoints and become our versions of the truth.

As social beings functioning in organized and structured societies, our personal preferences and biases intrude and affect our political interactions creatively for peace and harmony or destructively for social retrogression. Our personal truths need to be recognized for what they are and it is our duty to upgrade them into universally acceptable truths. Political speeches and activities must appeal to the reasoning ability of humanity with convincing logic and facts and not be directed at the base emotions of fear, panic and violence; directly or indirectly.

The more our viewpoints tie in to universal principles, the more successful we would be in our endeavours. The target dates we set for completion or realization of our dreams should be realistic so that our expectations can be appropriate and not put us into situations that compromise the highest principles of humanity. Hurry and worry should be avoided for the sake of our peace of mind and blood pressure. Strategic planning with the flexibility to quickly and appropriately respond to emergencies should replace and take precedence over tactical skirmishes of “ambush politics”.

Universal principles serving the common interest in the long term require patient perseverance of well thought out programs and objectives. Selflessness and pursuit of the common good direct our attention to the highest ethical principles available in the social framework at any time. Civil Society without boundaries is the field of investigation for this type of creative politics devoid of destructive rhetoric and acrimony, and efforts to highlight covert activities and bring them into the open are laudable. Pursuit of sustainable programmes should be the goal.

“Festina lente”, Latin for “Make haste slowly” and “Radix malorum est cupiditas” for “Greed is at the root of the greatest evil” are some of the important concepts of relevance in political discourses. Our road signs say “Over speeding kills” and we also know that “When the fruit ripens it falls”. These statements tell leaders to make haste slowly for when they properly mature, God himself will fit them into the appropriate leadership positions. When they are in unholy haste, they risk plucking themselves as unripe fruits which people will spew out of their mouths once they “taste” their unripe and sour nature. Time to mature is a necessary factor. One lifetime may not be sufficient for God to complete the work of preparing a person for a high office. God’s ways are not our ways and His time is the best. A great teacher, Darshan Singh, has said that just as it takes millions of dollars to produce one space-craft; it also takes God many years of evolutionary labour to produce one top-notch human being.

Greed, as the root cause of the greatest evil, is a member of a gang of five thieves that prevent us from achieving the highest purpose of our lives. The other members are “lust”, “anger”, “attachment” and “ego”. All our failings can be traced to one or more of these tendencies in us. The more we discipline and control our ego and personal interests and become more selfless in our viewpoints and interests, the more we mature into positions of responsible leadership.

It is fairly common for humanity to talk sweetly and openly about principles but act on interests in hidden agendas. It is therefore imperative for us to critically examine our leaders, find out what they may want to hide, and vote them into positions based on our factual findings. “A tree is known by the fruit it bears” is well known to biblical students. Some tools for use in investigations are to question “who” is saying/doing “what”, “when”, where”, “how”, “why” and also “what if”…

It is noteworthy that bloated egos, greed and inordinate lust for power can blind and corrupt politicians to blatantly avoid the truth in constructive and creative politics and descend into the gutter of destructive antisocial behavior. Lord Rama has said “Arrogance and ignorance are directly proportional as humility and wisdom”. Rajinder Singh says “Nonviolence is born of humility and compassion”, “Service is the sweetest fruit on the tree of love” and “Honesty begins where ego ends”. The question for the electorate to ask always is … “Does the calabash of cola presented by politicians contain ripe fruits or is it a “Trojan horse” of deceits and trickery?”

Victor Awayevoo.

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