STRAIGHT TALK

In Japan, the three wise Proverbial Monkeys are sometimes called the three Mystic Apes and are portrayed on the 17th century carving over a door of the famous T?sh?-g? shrine in Nikk? and are believed to have been incorporated in Confucius’s Code of Conduct.

These three monkeys are Mizaru, covering his eyes, to see no evil, Kikazaru, covering his ears, to hear no evil and Iwazaru, covering his mouth so as not to speak any evil.

Together they symbolize the proverbial principles of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil’. There is also a fourth monkey, Shizaru, who is not so well known, symbolizing the principle of "do no evil" and is shown with his arms crossing his chest.

Similar phrases also exist In the Chinese Analects of Confucius and state: "Look not, listen not, speak and make no movement which is contrary to propriety".

However, in Pakistan, we link these three Wise Monkeys to our not so-wise leaders and politicians, suggesting that they are incapable of seeing, hearing or willing to speak about the corruption and the bad governance that they are responsible for.

Like the proverbial ostrich, they are accused of burying their heads in the sand, in order to shut themselves out from the sufferings of the citizens and the mayhem and evil that surrounds them.

Instead, they come out with the usual ‘sub theek hai’ statement, while drone attacks and targeted killings continue, Karachi burns and the Enemies Within, wait patiently to strike their next deadly blow.

However, it seems that Pakistan is not the only country that has the Three Proverbial Monkeys. The recent chaos and uncertainty in the US, due to the shutdown of its government caused by the Tea Party, indicates that even some of the American politicians have inherited the genes of our Proverbial monkeys and infected them with the deadly ‘Self Above All Virus’.

The High-Noon Showdown between the Democrats and the Republicans, which led to the Lockdown of the American government for sixteen days, sent a mini tsunami through the financial markets of the world and rattled the bones of many governments.

It reminded one of the old 12th century phrase, ‘Cutting off the nose to spite the face’, an expression that used to describe a needless self-destructive over-reaction to a problem and was associated with the legends of pious women disfiguring themselves in order to protect their virginity.

In this case, the Republicans were prepared to cut off America’s nose, to spite President Obama and his Health Care policies. According to leading American political analysts, the events that led to the 16-day partial government shutdown, was a spectacle, deliberately provoked by the Republicans, to embarrass President Obama’s government and stop the ‘Obama care’ program, but in the process, it took $24 billion out of the US economy and encouraged America’s enemies around the world to exploit the situation.

In a hard hitting speech, President Obama blamed the Republicans for the government shutdown and its brush with default, ‘A “spectacle” that harmed America’s economy, its reputation, its credibility and it’s standing in the world with other countries and encouraged our enemies. It emboldened our competitors and depressed our friends, who look to us for steady leadership.”

He urged the Republicans to put aside partisan differences and brinkmanship tactics and find common ground and assured governments and investors around the world to have full faith in the United States.

The political embarrassment, which was spearheaded by the Tea Party senior member, House Speaker, John Boehner (R-Ohio), was a height of Self Above All brinkmanship and Republican’s kamikaze strategy.

The deadlock was finally broken when Republicans waved the white flag and chickened out and Congress voted to end the 16-day government shutdown and avoid a default, by raising its ceiling and allowing the government to borrow money, in order to run the government until January 15.

If congress had not passed the Bill to end the shutdown, then it would have triggered a historic default that would have triggered a global Dooms Day recession.

The critics have called the deal only a temporary truce, as it will land the US government and Congress in another game of chicken in the middle of the coming winter. So, the stage is set for another Showdown at the OK Corral in January 2014.

However, according to experts, an overwhelming number of Americans blame the Republicans for the crisis and this may leave the GOP with no stomach for a rematch next year, as the partial shutdown had hurt many Americans, damaged the U.S. economy and America’s credibility around the world.

However, the standoff has shown how effective the opposition can be in a truly democratic country and proved that it has the power to clip even Superman’s cape and bring him and his government down to earth. 

But if such power falls into the hands of corrupt and evil men, then it can be very dangerous. As Sir John Dalberg-Acton had stated in the 18th century, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

The world looks upon America as a superpower and expects its leaders and politicians to set an example of mature leadership and sense and sensibility, but the recent fiasco and a tragedy of errors, has shown the world that even the American Emperor has no clothes.

Freedom of Speech and Expression are all very commendable, but when they cross certain boundaries, that result in disrupting the system of governance, then they do more harm than good and become tools for the Enemy Within and result in chaos and disorder.

Let us hope that the Republicans and the Democrats act with maturity and reach a consensus to work together. They need to come to an amicable solution to avoid a global economic meltdown, that would destabilize many third world countries, start a run on the banks, a crash of the stock exchanges around the world and trigger a worldwide recession and have disastrous repercussions throughout the world.  

NB: Our thrice elected consumed PM has returned “From America with Nothing”, but has made a promise to the American President, that he will ‘put his house in order’.  However, government officials have described his three day visit a great success. So be it and let the game of charade go on. 

nEmail: trust@helplinetrust.org