Having heard that an aspirant for the office of President of the USA plans to build a wall to keep Mexicans out, then to force Canada to build one to keep the US at home, is it not wise to consider the thoughts of a few others:
The Concept of Ma'at (Egypt 3100 B.C.): The God-Queen or God-King is supreme, but they and their officials must rule in accordance with Ma'at - a natural moral law that combines order, justice, harmony, goodness, and truth. (Much later this became a theme in Anglo-Saxon thought.)
Confucious (China 551-479 B.C.): 1. Character is the root of civilization. If the ruler is virtuous, the people will also be virtuous. 2. Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you.
The Magi of Persia to Alexander the Great (330 B.C.): He who is chosen to rule may choose little for himself thereafter.
Cicero (Rome 106 - 43 B.C.): The good of the people is the first law. This is best achieved by a mixed constitution like that of the Roman Republic. Benevolent monarchy is the next best form of government, followed by oligarchy, then by democracy.
Jesus Christ: 1, Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.2. Love thy neighbour as thyself.
Tacitus, (Gaul, 56-117 AD): The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
The Koran: Allah loveth not aggressors for persecution is worse than slaughter.
Niccolo Machiavelli (Florence 1469-1527): A prince should be both loved and feared, but it is safer to be feared. Most men are ungrateful, cowardly, greedy liars. A ruler who gains their loyalty by purchase rather than by grandeur and nobility is ruined. The end justifies the means; the prince who conquers and maintains the state will always be considered honourable.
Louis XIV (France, 1643-1715): I am the State! (as shown by Jacques Bossuet in “Politics Drawn from the Very Words of Holy Scriptures", kings may rule by divine right, and to attack a king in any way is to attack God. But, the king is not a private person. He belongs to the public.
Voltaire, (France, 1694-1778): Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
Samuel Johnson (British poet and writer 1709-1784): There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny that will keep us safe under every form of government.
Frederick the Great (Prussia 1712-1786): My people and I have come to an agreement that satisfies us both. They say what they please; and I do what I please.
Thomas Paine (Britain - USA, author and humanitarian, 1737-1809): Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.
Edmund Burke (British statesman 1729-1797): 1. It is the love of the people; it is their attachment to their government, from the sense of the deep stake they have in such a fine institution, which gives you your army and navy,"and infuses into both that liberal obedience, without which your army would be base rubble, and your navy nothing but rotten timber. 2. To tax and to please, no more than to love and to be wise, is not given to man. 3. Liberty can not exist among a corrupt people. The use of force alone is but temporary. It does not remove the need to subdue again; and a nation is not governed which is forever to be conquered.
George III (relating to the British Empire and the U.S.A. after 1776): Monarchy, where potential monarchs are trained from childhood for responsibilities of high office, is better than what the United States will become: a nation governed by lawyers, most of whom will do more for their own welfare than for the welfare of the nation.
Duke of Wellington (on defeating Napoleon at Waterloo, 1815): Nothing, save a battle lost, can be so melancholy as a battle won.
Alexis de Tocqueville (French author on touring North America in 1830's): A democracy, with universal suffrage, lends itself to the "tyranny of the majority". The majority of voters belongs to the most passionate and the least enlightened classes of society. Also frequent elections rob governments of perseverance and order, and permits officials to exercise a tyranny worse than that of the most despotic governments. Old France is dead in Europe, but alive in Canada. Under British protection and financial support the French Canadians are the happiest and most tax-free people on earth, but their birthrate will one day swamp the British, and result in the establishment of a free, moral, and enlightened French Empire in the New World.
Benjamin Disraeli (A Jew who became British Prime Minister in 1868): Finality is not the language of politics. Change is inevitable. In a progressive country change is constant. No government can be long secure without a formidable opposition. All power is a trust, and we must answer to the people for its use.
William Gladstone (1809-98, UK PM): My first principle of foreign policy is good governance at home.
Otto von Bismark (1815-98 German Chancellor): Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.
Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924, US President): The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy.
George Bernard Shaw (Irish-English dramatist 1865-1950): 1. Democracy is the last refuge of cheap misgovernment. 2. Liberty means responsibility and that is why most men dread it. 3. The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. 4. Do not do unto others as you would they do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.
Winston Churchill (UK 1874-1965): 1. No dictator had as much effective power as the British War Cabinet. When we expressed our desires we were sustained and cheerfully obeyed by all. Yet at no time was the right of criticism impaired. It was a proud thought that Parliamentary Democracy can endure, surmount, and survive all trials.
2. The best argument against democracy is a 5-minute conversation with the average voter.
H.L. Mencken, (1880-1956, USA): The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.
Edward R, Murrow, (1908-1965, USA): A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.
John F. Kennedy, (1917-1963, USA): Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country. (Speech written by Theodore Sorensen).
Pratibha Patil, (1934 - (President, India): Corruption is the enemy of development, and of good governance. Both the government and the people must come together to get rid of it.
Kurt Vonnegut, (1922-2007, USA): What has allowed so many psychopathic personalities to rise so high is that they are so decisive. They do something every day and are not afraid and are never filled with doubts because they don’t care what happens next. Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Forget habeas corpus and the Sierra Club! There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and what can be done to fix it? This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.
Justin Trudeau, Canadian PM: If the US expects to lead the world it needs to know more about the world.
Ye Olde Scribe also has views: In human societies there are far too many complexities, requirements, and uncertainties to dispense with leaders, be they shamans, priests, chieftains, managers, kings, queens, presidents, or emperors. They can be excellent, benevolent, good, fair, corrupt, bad, dictators, or tyrants. But all leaders need lieutenants to enact decisions. The larger the society the more managers the lieutenants need and these managers are those who really run the society. We must ensure they possess empathy. Given responsibility in a certain area it is all too common for many to become entrenched as “little tin gods”, assuming more authority and righteousness than granted. I was to discover that the RCAF had a way of circumventing this:
My career included various menial jobs before, between, and after major stints in banking, the military, public teaching, and volunteering, but the RCAF gave me the biggest challenges and satisfactions while ensuring my ego remained contained. In 25 years I had 12 major assignments in 39 locations, 9 of these with family, which meant packing, moving, house hunting, getting children in and out of schools, while expected to be productive within hours of arriving at a new location, a strange new job, new people, and a new environment. Sometimes I was a student, sometimes a teacher, sometimes a warrior, sometimes a peacemaker, sometimes a leader, sometimes a cog in the wheel.
I will be forever grateful for how well my wife and 5 girls took all this in their stride, and were the better for it.
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