IF YOU were supreme leader of all you surveyed, would you be like Kim Jong-il, the country your plaything, the populace your toy soldiers, demanding that each citizen do your bidding on pain of death? An Idi Amin, laughing at his own bad jokes while he massacres Ugandans? The tyrant of them all ( still), Hitler, exterminating the ones hated and mistakenly distrusted, the ones who are “other”, whether Jew, gay, or gipsy?
There won’t be anyone saying yes to any of that, we must hope, although with everything going on in our discordant existance we could be forgiven for wondering quite how many evil people there are in a world which not too long ago seemed a far kinder place.
Then we look East – not to North Korea but to Myanmar, once known as Burma – for a better example of what it can mean to wield power, and be loved and approved of rather than feared and despised. And south to our own, late, treasured example.
The mystery ingredient in any of these scenarios is the people, what they think and how they respond to either tyrant or benign leader. This is fascinating. The most chilling example, for me, has always been Germany in World War II, where so many of the populace genuinely followed Hitler despite his unmistakeable evil. No one with more than half a brain cell could not discern that this man was seriously bad news, yet they followed him regardless. Yet in other scenarios people appear to be desperate for kinder leadership and waiting and praying for change to come.
The impossibly complex matters brewing in Europe reminds me when evil raises its head in other parts of the world, there are worse places to be than in the deep Karoo, where the local problems are no more complex than when the municipality will get its act together, why farmers are required to own white bakkies (there seem to be no red or blue ones, so one must assume there is a by-law requiring this) and when it will rain.
These things may seem trivial and rather sad, but they become pleasant, even uplifting, when contrasted with the mayhem happening on CNN. After watching the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks last weekend on CNN and on Sky News I came out of a chilling reverie to find myself in a world of Victorian cottages with zinc
(GOOD) OLD SCHOOL: Once a chicken supreme’s been browned in a pan on the stove-top, it needs only 30 minutes in a hot oven plus some time to rest and tenderise.