Shall man play God? Certainly not, if you think God exists! But man will try. The attraction of power and control is seducing and intoxicating. Even the Son of God was tempted with power during His moments of weakness. Put a man in power and he will never want to leave it. The patriarch of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew declared triumphantly during his heydays in politics: “Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up.” His arrogant pronunciation led to the following joke that went viral in the local scene.
At the entrance of Pearly Gate in Heaven, God was welcoming leaders of the world to His new abode. Ensconced on his throne, the dignitaries of the world were led to God for Him to welcome them. One by one they came. The ceremony progressed smoothly and with great fanfare – Hitler, Mao Tze Tung, George Bush and all the who’s who….. Without fail, God humbly rise from his throne to shake hands with each of the dignitaries as they bowed before Him. Then came Lee Kuan Yew. God froze, sat still and held on to his throne. His angels were perplexed and inquired why God did not rise to shake hands with Mr Lee. God whispered to his angels, “I’ve to cling on to my throne else Mr Lee might seize it!
Power has never failed to consume man. This is one historical lesson that has proven to be sacrosanct. Six thousand years of history is peppered with vestiges of empires and kingdoms once ruled by single autocratic figure. Alas, mortal man must die, but even in death, the craving to continue ruler-ship is perpetuated in a dynastic way. Kingdoms managed to continue this way for centuries, ruled by a dynastic family. In most cases, all kingdoms end badly in revolutions and wars until a new person emerges winner, only to continue the same again – a new dynasty begins.
Once a man gets into power to rule over a nation, his character starts to morphed. The aurora of power hypnotises him to think that he is immortal and his will cannot be challenged. He enters a stage where he is encircled by sycophants who will accentuate his delusional belief of unbridled power. Sycophants are attracted to powerful people. Sycophants, by nature has not the interest of others at heart. They are a cancer, overwhelming and taking over control of the host. Naturally, the outcome is catastrophic. The longer a man is allowed to remain in power, the opportunities are there for more nefarious transformation to take place. Eventually, he morphed into a Frankenstein dictator who no longer wants to abdicate the throne of power.
Hence, there is great wisdom for democracies to institute a limited span of time a person can assume the position of state leadership in the roles of President, Prime Minister or equivalent. The US Congress passed the 22nd Amendment of the United States Constitution on 21st March 1947 which sets a term limit for election to the office of President of the United States. to a maximum of two terms. France’s presidency has a maximum of two 7-year terms. In Russia, the presidency is for a maximum of two consecutive 6-year terms. Many like the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, still have no limit to how long the the top public office bearer can serve. The effectiveness of limiting service to mitigate corruption is of course debatable. Where power is concentrated on one man or family, limitations can easily be circumvented. In the absence of better solutions, half a loaf is better than none.
In the US, the President can circumvent clippings of his power by issuing Executive Orders. Executive Orders bypass the support of Congress and still have the full force of the law. What is more unsettling is that Obama even threatened to use Executive Orders if he is unable to canvass Congress support. “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone,” he said at his first Cabinet meeting of the year. Outlining the strategy, Obama said he plans to use his pen to sign executive actions and his phone to convene outside groups in support of his agenda if Congress proves unable or unwilling to act on his priorities (Poitico.com). Is this leading to a rule by decree if the President can bypass elected representatives of the people? Things could get worse. “A United States congressman has introduced a bill that would repeal the 22nd Amendment, which currently limits the president to serving only two terms as commander-in-chief. Should the bill become a law, it could allow President Barack Obama to run for reelection yet again in 2016.” (RT News, 7th January 2013)
Man is mortal, power is not. Power transcends time. Can man be like God? Only in a limited way. While he lives, man can behave like a god!
Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?