Saturday, December 23, 2006

Profile: The Chair

A few weeks ago there was a minor dispute over the hardly-prestigious and practically-insignificant position of the “vice-president” of the Jordanian Journalists Union. At the time of the elections, there was an agreement between the two candidates to alternate holding the position over the term of the council. When the first half of the term expired, one of them refused to honor the agreement and held on to the “chair” claiming that he was the highest vote-getter anyway and that there is nothing official that binds him to giving it up, hence the case was taken to some constitutional court. Then, both disputing “journalists” came to their senses and realized that they are fighting to be “in charge” (using the term very loosely) of a distinguished group of brain-dead high-school failures, flag-waving regime fawners, who are one step away from being issued a drum and a trumpet each (actually many of them already received the musical instruments, and a decent few opted for the gag). So they worked the situation out and avoided further embarrassment.

A few months earlier, the one-time influential Jordanian left, represented by the various midget-sized invisible communist parties, decided to regroup and held an “enormous” conference gathering historic figures along with old and new comrades trying to unite, and revive some of the glory days. The comrades’ main dispute, which eventually led to the failure of the unity attempt, was over the selection of the “Central Committee” members. A secretary general of a current completely obscure party insisted on holding such a seat and refused to settle for a position on the less-prestigious “Executive Committee”, making an argument for his “weight” and historic contribution to the struggle. The funny thing is that the whole gathering including current and historic leaders, current and former members, organizers, supporters, and bystanders could not have completed the load of a small Coaster bus.

If we examine the situation on this elementary level, can we blame a king for trading-in his father for a chair (or even a mattress)? Can we blame another king for back-stabbing his brother, another for sending his dad to a mental institute or another for even conspiring to murder him when the stakes are that high?! If the chair on a school students-council at the fifth grade level may lead to bloodshed, can we blame the owner of a country and everything on it for threatening to destroy anything that comes close to his throne and or another one who is willing to collaborate with the devil (i.e. Israel in the case of the late King Hussein and Jordan) to preserve the chair?

Imagine being responsible for a group of five people. One cannot understand who covets such a situation! Leadership usually contains some privileges, but in reality the main and (maybe only) purpose of these privileges is to allow the leader to perform the DUTIES. So you are the group leader of the five on a trip. They all hand you their money so that you can be in charge of the food supply for the whole trip. A few egotistical emotions may flow in your system as a result of being in possession of all the money. Maybe some feelings of pride and some sense of control. But practically you should be very worried: You are responsible for making the money last for the whole trip; you have to be aware of the collective fortune at all time and cannot lose it or everyone will starve; your integrity maybe subjected to questioning in the case of any misfortune (even at the level of one below-average meal served), and that is only the money planning duties! Seriously, who fights for that?

The chair becomes an issue of dispute and a life-long target in the case when the benefits become exceedingly disproportionate to the duties, with the most extreme example being the leadership of every third world country (unlimited resources for ZERO duties or responsibility). This phenomenon drags down from the palaces to every other organization and is apparent at every other position that comes with a title. It is actually very analogous to the situation of the army ranks in the countries with dormant/doormat armies. If you are a Marshall, General, or the holder of any other red-collar position in the notorious Jordanian army (zero battles over the past 35 years, and literarily zero wins over its whole existence) one may imagine the ratio of your privileges to your duties: They are almost approaching the above mentioned Royal level. If your rank is a little lower, you are still carrying yourself with that same power-trip mentality and you may believe that you have a certain level of a social status, but practically you are responsible for some duties that you need to address (mainly licking the boots of those of higher ranks) and your privileges may be limited to canceling your traffic fines and maybe reached its ultimate heights by getting a seat for your kid at the university. In an empty show-off society even the most insignificant of acknowledgements: “Look, here comes the assistant co-supervisor of the regional conference for Vacuum and Nothingness” can be a source of vindication and will give the fake sense of accomplishment to a worthless soul, let alone the effect of the titles of the “Majesty and Co.” variety.

Of course, the power hunger and the passion for being in charge could be a human desire that may not be that effortless to control and suppress. Any “position”, no matter how trivial, can very tempting and can be almost impossible to secede. That is why those who managed to perform that seemingly-impossible feat and forfeit a power position have engraved their names in the history books: Nasser’s cemented his legacy among the Arab leaders and took it to a whole new level by considering resignation. (Imagine the glory that the late Yasser Arafat could have earned if he had set an example for a system of authority rotation and managed to create such a precedent in our area. (On a separate note: It is even more saddening and infuriating when you see people fighting over a non-existent chair)). Che Guevara’s legacy depends on the effect it has on those who studies his biography: (Some may see him as the symbol of all revolution, some see him as the Don Quixote of our century, some see him as the example of perseverance and morality, and some just think that his mug looks “cool” on a T-shirt or a strapless top) but his legendary status emerged from the fact that he did not get glued to the first chair he had achieved and he elevated over the meager governmental position. Otherwise he would have ended up being his revolution comrade Castro: A one time respected revolutionary turned into a mockery of an autocrat. George Washington could have installed himself (and allegedly was offered to be) KING at certain points of the American history, yet he retired to a plantation after presiding over a constitution that limited the presidents to four years in power. The republican ideal he has set allows the modern day empire to hand each American president his chair after 8 years (literally, since the former presidents actual chair is placed in his memorial presidential library and museum), hand him a thank you note, and allows the country to infuse new blood at the top of its executive branch. The irony here reaches its peak when you observe a whole crew of highly-educated, super-qualified, ultra-intelligent people who are handpicked to perform their respective tasks being relieved of their duties and replaced to assure rejuvenation and “freshness” at the top of the pyramid, while in other parts of the world you have semi-illiterate delusionals with speech impediments “leading” nations decades after decades.

On the bright side in some places of the world there do exist a character called a living ex-president and there is a decent chance for a head of state to walk away from the great responsibility in a dignified way: Not on the hands of a conspiring son, not on the hands of an army general who slaughters him along with the next three generations of his family, nor would it be on the hands of a foreign army who would take his beloved chair and…..execute him on it.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

yi3an abu il kursi , from it all of our troubles start.

Anonymous said...

Please do not come home....I have already rented out the room to the local Mormon missionaries.

PALFORCE said...

Salam,

Happy Holidays !

Please visit us at the new Jordan Blogs portal: (http://jordanblogs.net)

Peace

abdullah said...

sadaqit..hehe beautiful description of why leaders kill, humiliate and persecute their people they simply get too many good things to give it a way for the people. We have to have a system that makes the chair worse than the electric chair. No salary nothing no extra privelages to make his duties easier the presdinitial or royal palace should be in a small crappy house in one of the poverty stricken areas so that those who think they are better than the majority of their people will never come to power and it will help them empathize with the poor who need them the most. For the army I think we should have a small war send the generals there that should give them duties they would never want hence makes the smaller doba6 not fighting and licking boots. As for the secretery general of the jordanian left they should force him to give out some harsh statements hopefuly he will be jailed and the next time less people are going to run for the that seat hehe they should have a rule that he has to be jailed 3-5 times a year for political reasons. That should do it. haha very good explanation it also makes it easier to see the solution for the stuck-in the chair leaders.

Anonymous said...

this is too much reading

Anonymous said...

good job....the army did win a battle though ...stole from us what i refer to as KARAMEH and put it somewhere where nobody can find it....

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