Rule by Reason – Journal
“MEN must still be ruled by deception,” Georg Lichtenberg, a German physicist and satirist once remarked. Honesty doesn’t give you power, and power doesn’t make you honest. How wild.
When the prudence of our rulers increases their own domain and their prestige at the same rate as that of the common man diminishes, then it seems that they rule not by reason, but by passion – for more power, for more prestige. When the leaders of a country give no preference to reason, only miracles can help it prosper.
Nothing surprises you more, and nothing frightens you more than when your rulers, after governing, admit that they have no plan to free us from the chains of trouble. Recently, in a video circulating on social media, former finance minister Shaukat Tarin admitted that the PTI had no economic plan when it came to power. Scary.
It’s not a party; to gain power, most political parties will claim to hold the key to all our ills, but once in power, they seem to lose that key. And then I can’t help wondering, “Won’t you have pity on your nation?
The future of this country rests precariously on the clarity of thought of its leaders.
Other political parties play by similar rules. The parties currently in power (ie the PDM) rallied with all their might for a vote of no confidence. It was their democratic right. One has to ask: Has the PDM ever sincerely shown a better understanding of the issues facing our country today? Not a single, let me repeat, not a single widely acclaimed policy report or document on the issues he published while in opposition, nor do I know of any that were published after coming to power.
This makes us wonder. Are we ruled by reason? Or are we ruled by passion? The passion you find in abundance when it comes to power. For their fierce rivals, once subject to their vilest criticism, politicians run hither and thither full of energy and passion. But why don’t we see the same passion and energy to bring the best education and health care to rich and poor? Why don’t we see this passion and energy to lift the poor out of poverty? Why don’t we see this passion and energy to serve cheap bread to the hungry or provide shelter to the homeless?
No prominent political leader has published compelling reflections on the big issues facing us today. Do they understand these issues? Do they deliberate deeply on our problems? A superficial understanding of the issues, delivered verbally and carelessly and surrounded by jokes will neither strengthen democracy nor the economy. This will help never solve our unpleasant problems.
This superficial understanding has crippled our economy. This superficial understanding strangled the poor and suffocated the common man. Shallow understanding is one of the reasons why the same problems crop up over and over again.
When millions of poor people struggle for bread and jobs, their leaders are expected to sit down and solve the problems that ordinary men and women face first and solve their power problems later. You usually witness the latter, not the former.
How does it benefit ordinary people that those in positions of power only speak to each other when their interests align? What is the benefit of them refusing to sit down with their rivals and allies to brainstorm ideas to improve the lives of ordinary men and women? The collective act does not seem to project sympathy towards them.
Sympathy and concern for ordinary people demands that the time and energy of the political elite be devoted to the things that matter most to ordinary men and women. If the guardians of our votes spend their time and energy climbing to the seat of power, defending the indefensible and praising the unworthy, then what does that care about the people? Because when you care, you do people good, you don’t burden them with problems. When you care, you apply reason to issues that have irreversible consequences for your people.
Take a recent decision with irreversible consequences: do you think it was the result of serious thought by those in power – not their associates or staff – and written down clearly on a piece of paper that you and the public can to consult ? It troubles me because I don’t think we think about our problems. If we think without writing, we only think that we think, to paraphrase a quote from scientist Leslie Lamport. The future of this country rests precariously on the clarity of thought of its leaders and such clarity cannot be brought by endless jokes but only by sound deliberation and written thought.
I sincerely believe that our politicians can get us out of our troubles – if they apply reason. I agree, when failure surrounds you, having no passion doesn’t help you move forward fiercely. But if irrational impulses ignite your soul, and not reason, then you are in trouble, just like us.
As the daily struggles escalate for citizens, they want their politicians to be capable enough to address the complex issues that affect them and their families. Who is a competent politician? A politician may have read all the poetry necessary to influence the people, he may have read all the history books one needs to know, he may have learned all the tricks of the book necessary to manipulate opponents, but to be considered truly capable, he must show that no one understands the issues better. We must govern by reason and not only by the passion for power or money.
The writer is an author and entrepreneur.
Posted in Dawn, June 4, 2022