We are now the parents, and, unfortunately, too many did not learn from our parents’ mistakes....
When you rattle a snake, you should be prepared to be bitten by it
There is no need sympathising with those who knowingly drive thorns deep into their flesh, goes a popular African proverb. The resulting pain, festering wound with pus and the difficulty in walking, should be borne with grace.
After all, it was no accident but a self-inflicted wound by someone who should have known better. In sum, self-inflicted harm is a personal project that should be endured without drawing others into the mess.
Who else is there to blame but the self?
Yet, the masters and mistresses of self-destruction, especially in the game of politics, do not seem to see the wisdom in this. They will throw caution to the wind, hurl words around, carelessly with abandon, in public and under the glare of the media.
After their tongues inevitably land them in deep trouble, they will desperately tug at the public’s heartstrings, enjoin their community in the tribulations, play victim and act like the underdog when they are the ones who brought woe unto themselves in the first place.
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Enjoyment of rights always comes with responsibilities. There is nothing like absolute and unbridled freedom for anyone, anywhere in the world. Consideration has to be given to others’ rights. Otherwise, this would be one huge jungle, where everyone does as it tickles their fancy.
Whereas freedom of expression is guaranteed in the supreme law of the land, the same cannot be said of the aftermath, especially if it crosses certain lines.
But trust politicians to go way overboard with insults and in full view of the public. Even if one had the skin of an adult rhino, there comes a time when you cannot continue looking the other way, as if to confirm whatever is being said.
At some point, it will stretch until the elastic limit is broken. A line will have to be drawn in the sand and a deterrent set, lest the name-calling become a free-for-all game.
When the axe finally falls, and the foul-mouthed individual is arrested and dragged through courts and police cells, they will expect sympathy from the public and their colleagues, alike. Believing that they are being treated unfairly, they will anticipate martyr-like status with protests across town, demanding that they be set free unconditionally. The whole fiasco will be framed as an act of intolerance. How convenient!
Perhaps, it would have been excusable if control of the organ that is the tongue or brain, which is responsible for the offensive statements, was shared and not to each their own. Unfortunately, it is not; and the same should go for the repercussions.
Still, politicians will not cease to amaze. Even in the face of such glaring misbehaviour by one of their own, his colleagues will coalesce around the individual in trouble, seizing photo opportunities at the police cells, ostensibly to express solidarity.
No opportunity on the podium will be missed to appear to petition the powers that be to forgive the individual. Of course, they may not support the irresponsible utterances, but there could be some political mileage to bag. Or that would be their way of investing in social capital when they need to be backed for whatever cause.
Be as it may, isn’t it strange that anyone would even risk sticking their necks out for someone in such mire? There is no way of explaining some unbecoming behaviour. Nothing could excuse the unsavoury and unsubstantiated claims directed at a VVIP.
Forget the proximity to power enjoyed in days gone by, which had the most powerful person on the land on speed-dial and probably inspired the contempt that comes with familiarity. These are the times when it makes sense for everyone to lug their cross along.
The bigger lesson for all of us is to always pick our battles carefully, fully cognizant that we are able to afford whatever price it could come with. Getting into unnecessary duels with the high and mighty can be a destabilising and costly endeavour. Considering how selfish humans are, always looking out for their interests, poking the hornet’s nest is dangerously bold.
As colourfully captured by a deceased former minister, when you rattle a snake, you should be prepared to be bitten by it.