Con­di­tional Ser­vice

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

Iwas chat­ting to a very close friend who be­moaned the fact that loy­alty counted for ev­ery­thing and noth­ing in to­day's world. It seems that lead­ers de­mand ab­so­lute loy­alty in ev­ery­thing; in fact ev­ery dis­sent­ing voice, no mat­ter how rea­son­able, is viewed as trea­son­able, and pun­ished ac­cord­ingly. Con­versely, the loy­alty of the most ded­i­cated sup­porter counts for naught if he or she re­fuses to ac­cept with­out ques­tion ac­tions and de­ci­sions that were, at best, ques­tion­able and, at worst, dis­hon­est or illegal.

My friend (whom I shall re­fer to as HE for the sake of con­ve­nience and not as gen­der def­i­ni­tion) had worked as­sid­u­ously for The New Leader (TNL) since the demise of his po­lit­i­cal hero. He put aside moral and po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences and ac­cepted, gladly at first, each and ev­ery duty im­posed upon him by TNL for the good of HIS coun­try and fel­low coun­try­men.

Af­ter some years, the du­ties be­came im­po­si­tions that in­ter­fered in­creas­ingly with HIS day­time job – HE is af­ter all very suc­cess­ful in HIS own right – and HE in­creas­ingly tried to say NO when­ever new du­ties popped up but TNL's de­mands for man­i­fes­ta­tions of Loy­alty did not al­low Re­fusals. No was not an Op­tion!

Many a night, not only an evening, was marred by phone calls from TNL de­mand­ing, beg­ging, ac­cep­tance of some new post or other. My friend was show­ered with praises of the-coun­try-needs-you-do-it-for-me-Ineed-you type that HE found im­pos­si­ble to refuse, and so HE ac­cepted, much to the detri­ment of HIS own busi­ness and per­sonal life.

Strangely and para­dox­i­cally, it was the very qual­i­ties that had at­tracted TNL to HIM that brought about HIS fall from Grace. My friend is known to all as an in­cred­i­bly ca­pa­ble pro­fes­sional in HIS line of busi­ness. HIS ex­tremely broad grasp of fi­nan­cial and le­gal in­tri­ca­cies and his un­ques­tioned Hon­esty and In­tegrity had made HIM an ob­vi­ous choice when Gov­ern­ment and Non-Gov­ern­men­tal en­ti­ties needed some­one to turn to when sen­si­tive, re­li­able, hon­est and in­cor­rupt­ible, tact­ful and fair lead­er­ship was re­quired. They spoke daily, met fre­quently, and my friend was lulled into a false sense of se­cu­rity and friend­ship and failed to see the onesid­ed­ness of their re­la­tion­ship; HIS opin­ion counted only when it hap­pened to co­in­cide with TNL's.

And so one day, TNL asked my friend to do some­thing that my friend con­sid­ered not only ques­tion­able, but also prob­a­bly illegal, and HE re­fused to do what was asked of him. It could not be done within the bounds of the Law and Fis­cal Re­spon­si­bil­ity. It was also po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous and pos­si­bly po­lit­i­cally sui­ci­dal for TNL's rep­u­ta­tion – not that TNL cared, so con­vinced did he re­main of his own in­vin­ci­ble su­pe­ri­or­ity – should knowl­edge of such a ques­tion­able ac­tion ever be­come known to the Gen­eral Public and Po­lit­i­cal Ad­ver­saries. There was, how­ever, lit­tle chance of that hap­pen­ing be­cause my friend is also dis­creet and loyal to the point of si­lence. HE would never re­veal what HE knew was go­ing on, even though HE had re­fused to be the in­stru­ment of TNL's ma­nia. And this, of course, TNL knew: he could rely on my friend's si­lence.

And that's when Hon­esty, In­tegrity, Rea­soned and Rea­son­able Ad­vice, Sound Judg­ment and Trans­parency be­came Dis­loy­alty, Be­trayal and Treach­ery. My friend was not fol­low­ing the Three Rules as set out by TNL:

Rule Num­ber One is that TNL is al­ways Right; Rule Num­ber Two is that when TNL is Wrong, Rule Num­ber One ap­plies; Rule Num­ber Three states sim­ply “My Way or the High­way”, and so my friend had to go.

In keep­ing with TNL's smil­ing ex­te­rior and Ho-Ho-Ho bon­homie, the sep­a­ra­tion was char­ac­ter­ized by in­sid­i­ous, in­sipid, creep­ing, limp-wristed non­cha­lance, as if lift­ing the phone to an­swer were too much of an ef­fort in this age of Caller-ID. TNL might just as well have stamped Ac­cess De­nied like some malev­o­lent, ill-willed ATM ma­chine across the many mails, phone calls, letters and mes­sages that went unan­swered.

TNL, if lit­tle else, is the Master of the Cold Shoul­der. My friend was made to un­der­stand that HIS ad­vice, HIS sup­port, HIS in­put on any mat­ters, how­ever small their im­port, was no longer welcome. HE was to be ig­nored and os­tra­cized, a shunned per­son, although con­spic­u­ously present, who could nei­ther be seen nor heard. HE was, in fact, “sent to Coven­try”.

The ori­gins of this phrase aren't known, although it is quite prob­a­ble that events in Coven­try in the English Civil War played a part. The Par­lia­men­tary Leader, Cromwell, im­pris­oned a group of Roy­al­ist sol­diers in Coven­try in 1648. The lo­cals, who were par­lia­men­tary sup­port­ers, shunned them and re­fused to con­sort with them. The story is prob­a­bly not true be­cause Cromwell was a firm, stern Chris­tian who pre­ferred to be­head his ad­ver­saries, some­thing that TNL is not al­lowed to do to­day, no mat­ter how much he might long to do so.

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