Species Chamaeleonidae

By Hakim Joe

Will circumstances ever change so much that a much-respected person does a 180-degree turn in terms of his or her beliefs and principles? Is it what one religion calls “born again” (from the depths of Hell) or does some other salient situation or condition factor into this chameleon-like trait? 

It happens. One day you are a loyal opposition assemblyperson (without a car) and the next you are in bed with the government (sporting a new Merc). One day you are a human being (homo sapien) and the next you turn ranidae (as in frog) or canidae (as in dog). One day you are convicted of corruption and the very next week, you are the national youth chief of the governing political party. One day you were the former PM criticizing the government and the next day, you are the actual PM. The list goes on and on and on.

Now hear this, “The Rule of Law is the defining feature of democratic government” and this, “Every legal power must have legal limits otherwise there is dictatorship. In particular, it is a stringent requirement that discretion should be exercised for a proper purpose, and that it should not be exercised unreasonably. In other words, every discretion cannot be free from legal restraint; where it is wrongly exercised, it becomes the duty of the courts to intervene.”

Or even this, “The [mere] existence of courts and judges in every ordered society proves nothing; it is their quality, their independence, and their powers that matter.” Same fellow, same words, different actions and zero accountability.

Yes, different people may elect to follow different ideas at different times and in different situations. Fair enough, but we are not talking about buying vegetables in a market where choice, availability and pricing are the deciding factors. We are talking about ideologies, principles and the value of our words as expressed to the people of the land. These are no Tom, Dick or Harry but people that are capable of influencing the Law of the Land. What was morally wrong before will still be morally wrong now. What was unethical before will still be unethical now. So, why do people change these beliefs after spending half their lifespan in the pursuance of truth, freedom and equality?

Money and Power comes to mind; either that or they are being pressured or blackmailed into doing so.

The integrity and character of this person emerges forth under such dire circumstances. The majority will succumb to whatever that is offered but some people never waver under any conditions. Mohandas Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Andrei Sakharov, Aung San Suu Kyi, Maria Julia Hernandez, Shirin Ebadi, Desmond Tutu and Martin Luther King Junior are but a few names that come to mind. A symbol of leadership perhaps? Possibly. But definitely a symbol of justice and truth (remember the unknown man standing in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square?).

Not every country possesses the destiny to have amongst its citizens one name on this list of illustrious people who fought, against all odds for what is morally right – not for himself (or herself) but for the good of the nation and its children.

Will RPK please stand up and be counted?