DAY EIGHTEEN

beyond the natural mind – a 21 day manifesto

Day Eighteen

“Today, I start to accept that though there may be many choices, many paths, and many possible outcomes, there is one right way to conduct my life”

Choice
“An act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities”

“I lie here in the hospital waiting to die. The doctors have told me that I do not have long to live. My family is all around me, some are crying some are silent, watching, waiting for the moment I die. I am not afraid of death, I have seen much over my life, and the act of dying seems very simple.

I lie here with tubes in my arms, chained to the bed through an illness which is consuming every part of my being, yet strangely I feel at peace. Perhaps it is the morphine coursing through my veins.

My name is not important and neither is where I come from. I am 74 years old, and for a large part of my adult life I was the president of a country whose name is also unimportant. Where shall I begin?

I had a privileged upbringing; I never wanted for anything, which is more than could be said for the people I ruled over for 30 years. My childhood was filled with games, and toys, and I was looked after by servants who took care of my every want, and desire. I was educated in a private english boarding school, and went to university where I studied economics.

I returned home at the age of 23, where my father thought I would go into business, but I knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work in politics, to make use of my privileged upbringing, to help the poor people of my country.

These people had nothing and I had everything, I would make their lives better. I would work for the government. I would help improve sanitation, education, employment.

I rose quickly through the party, and by the age of forty three I was standing for president. I was elected by the people, and looked forward to finally breaking the years of poverty in my country. But it was not to be.

I realised how difficult it was to get anything done. There was so much corruption, everybody who worked for the government supposedly helping the people who were paying taxes they could barely afford were lining their own pockets.

I soon realised that no one wanted equality, no one wanted poverty eradicated, they were much too comfortable with their houses, government cars, and banquets. I realised that we were running the country for ourselves. We didn’t care about “our” people, we cared about ourselves.

I had my presidential palace, and anything I wanted. I started to notice I could take riches for myself, and I did. It was so easy. It wasn’t government money, it wasn’t the people’s money, but no one seemed to care, and neither did I.

Poverty and disease were still rife in the country, but the people loved me. They seemed to be complicit in my deceit. They knew what was happening yet they did nothing about it. These were simple villagers, and farmers, they believed in me. They didn’t know or didn’t care that I was taking their money under false promises, but I could sometimes see it in their eyes; the unspoken sadness that said “I know you are stealing from me, but I will support you.

More fool them! I thought. If they are too stupid to notice that their money was being used to line our pockets, well, that’s their own fault.

But they couldn’t stand up to me and they knew it. Everywhere I went I was protected by the army, who we made sure were well paid. Any dissent was quickly crushed. And we went about our business.

I was elected for five years, at which point there were supposed to be elections, but I couldn’t let go of power! Why would I? I liked my palace. I liked the money. I liked the power.

So we rigged the elections, and I was voted in again.

Another five years past, but this time there was more opposition to my re- election. Someone was stirring the people up, so he had to go.

You know what power is, it’s being able to give an order, and people blindly follow it. I issued a warrant for his arrest and he was found guilty of treason and executed. We could not have dissent. I was in charge of the country, not the people, not the opposition.

Admittedly it got out of hand. People were protesting against my rule, saying that I was corrupt, that I was a dictator, which I denied at the time, but now I must accept it.

Of course I was a dictator, supported by a well paid army that would do whatever I said. I amended the constitution giving myself executive power over government, I raised taxes, I moved money offshore, I built new palaces, and had monuments to myself constructed.

The people smiled and waved as I paraded through the streets, and although I saw the smiles, I knew that it was only because I kept them in fear.

They could have overthrown me and the government and the army in an instant but they did nothing, and that strengthened my grip on power. They gave me the power to oppress them, they were complicit.

They could have stopped paying taxes, started a general strike, but none of them were prepared to lay their lives down for the cause.

If they had stopped paying tax there would have been no money to pay for my army. There would have been no money to pay for the murder of dissenters. They would have won. Yet they did nothing. That always amazed me.

Fear. It is man’s worst enemy and his best friend. If you feel afraid of me, then I have power over you. If I feel afraid of you, you have power over me, but the former was always true. I was but one man, supported by people who benefited from the fear I exerted over them, and the fear they exerted over others.

Of course it all came to an end one day, and I knew that day was coming. It was so simple. The money did run out, and the army turned on its paymaster. They took charge of the country, and I was declared a criminal and went into hiding.
If they had caught me, they would have hanged me for sure, but in a sudden twist of events, the people finally rose up and attacked the army. I couldn’t believe my luck. Civil war!

Of course it wasn’t long before the war was brother against brother, neighbour vs. neighbour, sect vs. sect, religion vs. religion, north vs. south, east vs. west, rich vs. poor.
They looted the palaces, pulled down my monuments, but I was safe. My family had been escorted out of the country and were safe. My money was hidden in foreign bank accounts and was safe. All I had to do was rally my supporters to help me leave.

But I didn’t have to. Soon, the Western powers decided to intervene, and although we knew it was to protect their financial and commercial interests, I managed to broker a deal which saw me go into exile.

Ha! I couldn’t believe my luck.

Here was I, the man responsible for creating the problems in the country, safe, well and rich, watching the death and destruction in my country from a hotel room thousands of miles away.

There was talk of putting me on trial for war crimes against humanity, but fortunately due to developing a terminal illness, was deemed to be too ill to stand trial. A stroke of luck!

Unfortunately here I am, days away from death, but in a way I see myself as getting off lightly, I could have been put on trial and hanged, but instead I am in a comfortable hospital bed, surrounded by those I love, having the best medical care in the world.

I have been thinking about my life over the last few months, wondering if I would do anything differently; wondering if I could have been a better person, but I had a good time. I have a beautiful wife, and three daughters, I have had riches most men couldn’t dream of; I had the respect of an entire country. People looked up to me.

Would I do it all again? Of course I would. It wasn’t an accident that this happened and it wasn’t pre-ordained by god, it was all my own doing, and I take responsibility for what happened.

So, people suffered, but I was the president of the country. I couldn’t very well let people go around doing and saying what they wanted, otherwise no one would have respected me.

This was my life, these were the choices I made. I have no regret. Now if you’ll excuse me, I would like a few moments with my family.

Conduct
“To direct the course of; manage or control”

What is the right way to conduct your life? Is it to lead a life of compassion and love for the whole world, or to dedicate yourself to god or to charitable works?

No, the only right way to conduct your life is the way you choose to conduct it. You are responsible for your life, no one else.

And if you find this man’s actions abhorrent, then you have the ability to choose to conduct your life differently. I cannot tell you how to conduct it though.

However, if becoming a dictator and murdering people who disagree with you is the way you would like to conduct your life then that is something you must do.

GO TO DAY NINETEEN


by alan macmillan orr

2012

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