Rule by vanity
Our countries are ruled by vanity.
This morning, walking back from dropping off my daughter in school, I was crossed by a teenager on a bicycle. Nothing alarming about this, I grant you. In fact, he was clearly not alarming in that he was wearing a helmet. What struck me was the look on his face as we crossed. I don’t claim to be a mind reader but his look betrayed his discomfort: his mind was saying: “this guy is staring at me because I’m wearing this lame looking helmet!” We all know that this was not the case. I saw his helmet and thought the responsible dad thing: “this kid is smart, he’s wearing a helmet.”
Which, you guessed it, got me thinking about our governments. We are governed, in some cases ruled, by vanity. I’m not just talking about the usual suspects, dictators, monarchs and the like. I am talking about our democratically elected officials as well. Their actions are clearly driven, to a large extent, by the “what will they think of me” filter. Having worked closely with many of them over the years, I cannot tell you how often that sentence has come up.
In simple words, our world will be a better place when vanity is erased from governance.