Politicians as referees

In the last century of the Roman Empire, the Emperor became a referee trying to assuage the various demands of special interests. In the end, there was nothing left to referee over. The Christians destroyed the Empire’s multi-faith/civic culture in the west and Christians and Muslims dismantled it in Central Asia and North Africa. The parallels with today are striking.

The President of the largest, most powerful nation in the world is afraid to say, ‘hey schools should not be checking children for arms; hardware stores should not be selling assault weapons and by the way, killing people in Afghanistan the poorest nation on the planet to save the world for democracy is wasting everyone’s time, because if that’s what it takes democracy is cooked anyway. But he can’t say this, because he’s afraid to offend powerful interests, just like the Emperor was afraid of offending powerful interests.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt said at the beginning of the modern world’s greatest recession, we must put aside fear. The world needs the same message today, but there is no one to give it. Fear is what has turned city and national politicians into referees. Fear is why the Prime Minister of Canada thinks its a better idea to invest billions in fighter jets and nothing in modern rail. Fear is why the greatest single expense cities and nations have is now security and fear is why people are afraid to say, we want our taxes going on things for us, not more weapons to keep bogeymen from the door.

A world with less fear requires more than courage. It requires people to have a philosophy which is optimistic, life enhancing and open, not thicker walls and more arms. Thicker, taller walls didn’t work for the Roman Empire and it won’t work for the American/Canadian empire.

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