We haven’t even recovered from the stream of three consecutive general elections, and a fourth one is already underway. Moreover, all of a sudden, everyone thinks they can be a better, if not the best prime minister for the State of Israel.
But if you ask me, this frivolous attitude toward the task of being the prime minister of Israel indicates a lapse in understanding and lack of accountability. People’s egos have grown to the point where they just want to rule, to be kings, even if just for a few minutes, and regardless of the consequences. I see a distinct similarity between what is happening now and what happened to the people of Israel shortly before the ruin of the Second Temple and the exile from Jerusalem. In those days, the High Priest would buy or bribe his way to the title, and would serve for very short times until he was pulled out of there and replaced by another. There was no sanctity in that institution anymore, only power struggles and the desire to be “king for a day.” We all know how it ended.
It isn’t happening only in Israel. All over the world, there are no systems that prepare people to be governors. How can a person be expected to know how to rule over a country without prior preparation? Any job requires learning and preparation, but the most impactful job in the country does not? Where is the sense in this approach?
Previously, in monarchies, a prince was born knowing that one day he will become king. From day one, he was taught what this means, what it entails, how to control the nobles, how to lead the army, and manage a taxation system that could sustain the monarchy and sustain the monarch. In that sense, democracy is a failed system by default since it allows people who know nothing about ruling to proclaim that they deserve to govern based solely on their word. Because they know that they are here today and gone tomorrow, they feel no accountability. They claim to work for the sake of the people when all they really want is to use their term at the top to gain as much as possible for themselves.
A king, on the other hand, feels that the monarchy is his, that his kingdom is his legacy, that he is the state. In the days of monarchies, a king was not just an autocrat. People hung their hopes on the king. A good king meant good living for everyone. A king was respected not only out of fear, but also as a sign that the people agreed to his authority to manage their lives and make them better. Compare this to the obligation that a “democratically” elected head of state feels toward his or her constituency, and you will see how flawed our system is.
However, the sad state of today’s democracies does not mean that we should reinstate monarchies. The raging egos of people will unquestionably make them abuse their absolute power. One look at North Korea or Venezuela demonstrates what happens when you give unchecked power to individuals today.
The solution to the deadlock that world governments are in can only be found in the realization of our connection, our mutual interdependence. As long as we lack the comprehension that what hurts each of us hurts all of us, and what helps each of us helps all of us, we cannot do anything right, much less govern correctly.
The past rulers of Israel were the Sanhedrin. They were people who engaged first and foremost in connection among them. They sat in a semicircle so they could all see each other and communicate with one another. Only people who achieved a certain level of connection among them, a certain level of care for others, could become members of the Sanhedrin. Those people were the governors of the land of Israel since they had the best interest of the people in mind, not their own.
Today’s governors reflect the level of connection among all of us. Since we, in society, are disconnected, and since our governors come from among us, they, too, are disconnected from the rest of the people and do not care about us. The only difference between them and other people is that they have a desire to be in power and they managed to convince us that they would work for our benefit. But if no one in society works for anyone’s benefit, if selfishness is the trait that dominates human relations, and they emerge from the people they now govern, how can we expect them to be anything but selfish?
For this reason, if we want to save the country, to improve the government, and to change the way that governors relate to their constituency, we must teach ourselves and our entire society to live by different values. When we live by values of mutual responsibility, caring, and accountability, so will be the nature of our leaders. Until then, we will continue the endless cycle of elections until we’ve had enough, or until we end up the way our forefathers did 2,000 years ago.