When we look at all the promises that politicians have made, and broken, it makes us doubt the purpose of giving any weight to their statements in the first place. It would be difficult to find one statement, or even a contract, that was not eventually broken, and usually sooner than expected or in circumstances that are the least convenient to the other party or parties. This begs the question, “What is the point of signing any contracts?” Currently, there is no point. However, there are circumstances where this will change and leaders will stand by their word.
The thing that motivates us, all of us, is fear. We hardly do anything for any other reason. We work because we are afraid of poverty, befriend people we do not like because we are afraid of them or afraid of loneliness, and behave in ways that make us dislike ourselves for fear of being unpopular or even bullied.
Leaders are the same. Their motivations are invariably selfish and usually stem from fear. To make them keep their promises, they must fear the consequences of breaking them. In democratic countries, they might be afraid of breaking promises because they might not be reelected. In totalitarian countries, they are not as affected by public opinion, but are still dominated by their party’s view of them, or they might be deposed or assassinated. Even rulers who seem to have no challengers trouble themselves to justify their actions in order to look good in the eyes of the public, since they cannot ignore their people’s view of them altogether.
It follows that if fear is the motivation of those in power, they must learn what to fear so that they act for the good of the public rather than for their own benefit. Current violent conflicts indicate that circumstances have changed. The bully is no longer the guaranteed victor. The world has become a global village where bullies are not popular. A country that wishes to abuse another country, even if for what it deems a just cause, must think ten times before it uses force.
It is not merely a different atmosphere in the global society. There is a different law that is coming into play: the law of interdependence. When everyone is evidently dependent on everyone else, as is the case today, no one can make a decision that does not affect everyone else. Therefore, countries cannot decide only according to their own interests; willy-nilly, they are accountable for the rest of the world.
We cannot change this law; it is how reality operates today. In fact, reality has always operated this way, but we were not as aware of it as we are today. Like it or not, and we do not, this superior law is shaping global society and determining new rules of behavior, where everyone must be considerate of everyone else.
In the coming years, those who try to flout this law and violate other countries’ rights will serve as examples of what happens to rebellious leaders who believe they can bully their way to dominance. When leaders realize that they must act in consideration of others, they will think very carefully before they commit to anything, make sure their commitments benefit everyone, and not only themselves, and they will fear going back on their word without the consent of all affected parties.
US President Joe Biden takes his seat with wife Jill Biden, other heads of state and dignitaries, including French President Emmanuel Macron at the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, held at Westminster Abbey, London. Picture date: Monday September 19, 2022. Dominic Lipinski/Pool via REUTERS