Doing politics right

IN the wake of another election cycle, it's probably a good idea to take a breath, step away from the rhetoric, and take a good hard look at the truth. When politics really heats up and passions flare, it's easy to get caught up in a message, rather than pay attention to what's really happening. More when we know election manifestos are there as mere ornamentation, we must start our judicious assessment.

It is frightening that (very) senior political leaders come up with promises that are both hypocritical and ironical because they come from people who had the power, position and authority in the past and yet … if you get the drift, we leave it be.

There is a whole lot of mess around us and this will only become worse in the days to come and believe me, there is nothing to worry. The New Age thought leaders say that when you embrace all the clutter and mess around you will become more creative and resourceful. This is how we console ourselves when worrying does not change a thing.

I live and work in the city and it is not a pretty sight that posters and banners hanging as they were on some suicide binge. I am referring to those not secured properly and in just days after they go up they become rubbish – pitifully fallen from grace and I for instance cannot envisage myself entrusting the people and party with managing the country when they can't even get the basics right. Being tidy is one thing but losing the purpose along the way is a misfortune.

I am reminded of a joke I heard some time ago: An atheist was seated next to a little girl on an airplane and he turned to her and said, "Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger."

The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the stranger, "What would you want to talk about?"

"Oh, I don't know," said the atheist. "How about why there is no God, or no heaven or hell, or no life after death?" as he smiled smugly.

"Okay," she said. "Those could be interesting topics but let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff – grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?"

The atheist, visibly surprised by the little girl's intelligence, thinks about it and says, "Hmmm, I have no idea." To which the little girl replies, "Do you really feel qualified to discuss God, heaven and hell, or life after death, when you don't know shit?"

And then she went back to reading her book.

The point of this is, people (read politicians) who dream big and talk big must first know the smaller aspects of life and the fundamental attributes of being a human. Ethics is the most basic and if one does not cultivate and uphold it, one does not get far in life.

Ethics is basically the reverence for life and it can simply mean doing the right thing, even when being a politician.

Interestingly, I read with interest a medical doctor in his column advising politicians to stay healthy in these times of political rage. Doing justice to his profession, he gives a tip or two on the rudimentary habits of maintaining a healthy body. Surprisingly, he does not talk about a healthy mind, perhaps it is not relevant as it is acceptable to see politicians indulge in "out-of-mind" antics.

On nomination day I was out in the city and saw hundreds of motorcyclists defying basic safety by carrying large banners and flags. They were a danger to themselves and to other road users. The election has depleted all sense and sensibility from people who get overwhelmed by a moment's glory.

I quaintly remember this saying that politics has no relation to morals but it is time we changed that and made politics every bit a moral endeavour!