Stop Looking Up To The Government
Where the change we want is going to come from
The remote town I spent a year gave me experiences I needed to back up my thoughts on the world and its issues. I had the chance of connecting with people how I want and the way I want. I discovered something — the human race is the same. Tribal and religious issues came up because of issues between two people or two factions. They decided to transfer it (and keep transferring it) to the next generation.
I lived in a house with 6 people who were Muslims. They were different people and they all had different characters. Many times, I’d be the only one among them that’s not a Muslim. One day, I was in their room when some of them were having their prayer. I went to do something outside the room and walked back in. After their prayer, one of them told me that it is improper to walk through the front of anyone (of them) during prayer. I kept that instruction and made sure it never repeated itself.
A fool could have started an argument or scoffed at the foolishness of it. The person told me why it is improper and I respected their view of things. I believe I know better but I’d rather keep my knowledge to myself. If I share my knowledge, it will not edify, it will only cause a rift. We need simple respect like that in the world.
Politics and Promises
A man without a word is nothing. If your word means nothing then it means you are fading away. And if you promise something you cannot guarantee, what does that make you? Well, only politicians promise something they can’t guarantee. I have always wondered why they go through so much to get elected into public office. Only to claim they want to serve the public.
I hate those political “make me” speeches. Nobody talks about why they want to get into that office. Nobody talks about what they really want out of it. And to me it is obvious. You can’t go through all the things a political aspirant goes through without wanting something for yourself. So, my question to any of them is this:
What’s in it for you?
For example, if you ask me what’s in it for me in writing this article, I’ll tell you. What I want is to get the attention of at least one influential person passionate about these issues. The problem of transparency is that most people have not defined themselves. And the sad part of it is that they want other people’s choices to be at their mercy. If you want to make a change in the world, don’t join politics. It is going to be a big mistake. Why?
You cannot make any real change as a politician elected into governance positions
A Politician will Change the World?
Politics is a one-way ticket. It has this dirty and murky hallway but has a beautiful stage. The problem for most people is that they see the stage. They imagine themselves on the stage and encourage themselves towards it. They never think about the hallway.
The thought is that one can go through that hallway clean and get to the stage. The vision gives you a possibility of that but the reality is obvious. It is impossible to get to the stage without the touch, smell, stain of the hallway on you. And if you see what those hallways are made of, you would have reasons to reconsider.
Let us assume that you made it through the hallway 100% clean, you have 4 years to spend in office and 8 years at most. Whatever good thing you do can be undone by just one wrong person (who isn’t even at the top) after your administration. One person who has the ears of the public who gets the story of what you are doing wrong can mess up the whole thing. All the good deeds you put in place can be undone in 25 years or less.
And more importantly, you came on board to captain a ship. The ship already exists. It has a system. And even you (as the head) are bound by the system. You have no control over most of the people you’ll work with (you don’t choose them). So, you need only one devil among them and your efforts can be grossly frustrated.
The government can go on without someone in the position of the head. The head is there to keep it in the approved direction and be someone to point fingers to when things get on the edge. The government is a system. This is why those we celebrate in government are not those who fulfilled their campaign promises. Neither are they those that put in the best plans and programs for the people. Instead, they are people who responded best to what came at them.
In governance, people need stability more than change. People need excellent decision-making ability in people who administer in government. If you think you are born for that, go into government. But do it because it is what you are born to do, not because you want to “change lives”. If you want to change lives, governance is not the place to dabble into.
Politics is NOT Leadership
For most parts of the world, the route to governance is politics. That is the misnomer for me. I don’t believe the general public should determine who gets into where. Governance is not leadership — that is the mistake a lot of people are making. If the responsibility is administrative, the election should be one that is administrative. Of course, it must be a custom process for each country. And it must be trustworthy and sustainable.
The world has been in a standstill. The reason is that many people think that the government should provide everything. And they live the kind of life they want. When it comes to solving problems, all fingers point to the government. Many people just want to live and die in comfort. Very few people are really living, others are comfortable to keep surviving. The sad part of this is that the government accepts this responsibility placed on them by the people.
In most places, the government is democratic. So the government has to fulfill the wish of the people as long as the people are quite united in their wish. Generally, people wish that the government would play God (i.e. their benefactor). That is why when things go wrong in a place, the default thinking is that the government is at fault. And nobody even questions that notion.
Not the Government’s Job
Many years ago, when offenders were caught, they were either exiled or killed. The idea of keeping people in a place to re-evaluate and re-orientate their lives came from a Christian organization. That idea is what evolved into the modern-day prison. Today, it looks natural for the government to run prisons. And people don’t get better there, they get worse.
Before I heard the story of how prisons came to be, I remember thinking to myself that governments are not supposed to run prisons. Of course, they will have to run those where criminals of national interests are. But the simple society offenders are not supposed to be kept the way they are in most parts of the world today.
Facilities, where simple offenders like these are, ought to be run by organizations of interest, passion, and purpose. Those who have the right materials to re-orientate people. The government is a system — it has no passion, no interest and no purpose of such.
The primary job of the government is to organize society and give it a functioning structure. Even things like the provision of infrastructure are secondary. That is because it takes a lot of things coming together to provide infrastructure. But what is not supposed to be on the list in governance is there because of democracy. And it is even made of utmost priority, especially in underdeveloped countries. And that is something called “welfare of the people”.
The government is not supposed to provide what people need (or want). The government is there to create an enabling environment for value exchange. This is so that people who can create what other people want can find a suitable environment to produce. But people put pressure on the government to meet their needs. This makes the government like a charity foundation (which it’s not supposed to be). Which leads to the government exercising dangerous rights over people. And where you find that the government is the highest employer of labor, that country’s economy is set up for failure. This is because the government will never be able to focus on what they ought to focus on. Too much power will be with the government officials. And that breeds corruption.
What Politicians Do
I heard something funny about a state governor in one of the neighboring states of this small remote town. He distributed wheelbarrows to the youths in his state as part of his youth empowerment scheme. When I heard it, the regime of the governor was long gone, so it was something we could openly laugh about. I still know of places where they give motorcycles and the so-called youths are excited because of it.
In the remote town, a prominent political figure there supported a soccer competition. He promised money for the winning team and motorcycles for the exceptional players. You need to see how serious they took this competition.
This is what politicians do — they remain a politician after their election into office
Expecting something different to come from a politician is like expecting water to flow uphill. This is the futility of government. Even if they tried, they will still fail because it’s not something they are supposed to do.
But since things are the way they are, wise people need to stand up. It will take people taking up responsibilities away from the government to change things. That is a big deal and will take lots of powerful people, time and restructuring to happen.
You can’t say you want to stand up and start a movement. If it is going to happen, it must be something natural. It must be something the world is ready for. What you can do is to play your part and hope the other person plays his.
Inducing a change is something complex and complicated. If you don’t know how to do it, don’t try just because you seem to have the resources to.
Think about it.
This article was written in 2015/2016 from my experience in a community service initiative. Read the entire collection in the order it was written here.