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Always be humble, power is transient


True to our nature, humans never learn from missteps, their own or others. Of all the lessons known to humanity, one that has continued to elude us most is the one on the transience of power.

How power never ever lasts for long. One minute, you are mighty, high flying and everyone is constantly jostling for your attention. The world seems to revolve around your little finger. A few years in, if lucky to survive the entirety of your principal's terms, this phase is quickly gone and you are back on planet earth, all on your own, with other ordinary mortals.

In your place, someone else will be in power, and even you could do with the attention of whoever takes over, but no one will be giving it. If anything, the new kids on the block will do everything to remind you who's in charge or baying for a piece of you, to answer for your supposed missteps during your tenure.

This is the way things have always been, and will likely stay like that until the end of time. Yet, excitable newbies coming into the system never learn and will predictably take the same path when their side sails into office, clear missteps be damned.

Riding roughshod over everyone, especially their predecessors to show they are the system. Seeing nothing wrong about threatening the basic liberties of others, including press freedom. Making pronouncements all over the place and acting as if they are the ones in the top-most seat, conveniently confusing proximity to it with wielding ultimate power. All this while forgetting that their time to climb down from the high horse is soon coming.

Last forever

Such is the nature of life that we have refused to accept as we will always fall into step. When flying high, the imagination is that it will last forever.

Even before the advent of democracy, there was always a threat to the rulers' hegemony, lurking in the shadows -- a notorious enemy looking to conquer or a conniving sibling or cousin itching to walk away with the title.

Today, it is a lot more finite, where the number of terms that one can serve, together with their appointees are capped in the supreme law of the land. On the day of assumption into office, it may seem like a long time but soon it will all have elapsed.

The next lot will be just as boisterous. They will jeer at you, their predecessor and not miss a moment to throw a jibe or even settle scores.

They will be reckless in speech and act as if they are above the law. After all, it is their time in the sun and they will be making the most of it.

For everyone though, it all comes to an end. Soon, as very memorably captured by one senior government mandarin, the phones fall quiet.

No need to whine about the faded attention because the people whose calls you avoided have swiftly moved on to ask your successors for those things they wanted from you.

Perhaps they would still be calling if you had time for them, but you were too important and busy, handling delicate matters.

The lesson herein is that all things eventually come to an end. Even the power and might that is wielded in one season will never last forever and will soon all vanish.

Through it all, it helps to stay humble even while at the top so as to avoid the shock that comes when it all passes - because it eventually will and might be jolting when it happens.


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