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Monday 20 October 2008

The Message of a Beautiful Prince

Once upon a time a beautiful prince, called Albert, who had spent his whole life in service to his country, his family and his people, had a beautiful dream of peace throughout the world. A wise and brilliant man, born into a position of some authority, then married into a position of great power, he was determined to use his gifts for the good of all. Whatever the cost to his health or his own comfort, he dedicated himself to duty so wholeheartedly that eventually it cost him his life. The tragedy was that his beautiful dream turned into a nightmare on the battlefields of WWI. His children and grandchildren found themselves on opposing sides. They became enemies and their positions of authority crumbled away as monarchies were overthrown.

Now, here's the rub. If this beautiful man had forgotten the world, forgotten his responsibility and duty, and had simply cared for his family, wouldn't they have been better off? Wouldn't he have been better off? He did it because he felt it was his duty and he cared for the people. The people were perfectly capable of taking care of themselves but, as always, people look to a figure of authority for guidance, and cast their own problems onto that figure, projecting every difficulty onto someone else - a figure of authority. The appalling part is that, as we 'came of age', instead of taking back responsibility, we (people) let ourselves be led by someone who claimed to speak for us: a Hitler, a Stalin, a dictator in any guise. These Hitlers, Stalins (who still appear) did not have the beautiful prince's love for their people, they saw only his power and they wanted it for themselves...

Sadly, to me, the days of the beautiful prince have gone. The sadness I feel about that, is only the sadness that we all go through when we pass out of childhood. The scary thing - far more scary that anything in the past - is the way that we go on following figures who come as wolves in sheep's clothing, promising change or a better world, or promising a great future. No one can do it for us; we can only do it for ourselves by taking back the power that is our birthright, and realizing from the mistakes of the beautiful prince and his beautiful family, that we'd all be better staying at home - not Empire-building, not seizing power, just living without having to rely on someone else to make our decisions for us.

If there were a choice between corrupt bankers and politicians or people like the beautiful prince, I would go for the latter. If there were a better choice between being ruled or simply living and minding our own business, I would go for the latter again. If we learn anything from history, it is surely that we need neither rule nor be ruled. Let's live according to our lights and grow up.

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