Horizons

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There was this king who lived in a country where kings are elected which is probably a very silly way to select a king, or a queen for that matter.

This new king didn't seem very smart, but there were those who thought he was a nice man. He didn't understand language very well, and kings are supposed to know how to speak well, to use words correctly. That's because kings should inspire us with their words, their presence, their voices and their explanations.

They shouldn't just represent us, they should ennoble us, raise our sights, help to change our minds. This new king was a little like the one in that comic strip: "The Wizard of Id" a bit of a buffoon who just liked being king. Sometimes buffoons are really tricksters or wise fools. They're wiser than they seem. However,that's not always the case.

The fact that this king was elected, probably meant that the people who voted for him wanted that kind of king (which is an error demonstrably more harmful to the people than the king). But in this instance it wasn't really the people who elected him. The people actually voted for someone else, even though he was a smart person, very intelligent. The election was left in the hands of those who couldn't stand the thought of an intelligent king. So these electors selected the man from "The Wizard of Id."

Kings are human beings, of course, even if they reign in divine right. They can't all be wise or smart. That's why many of the people assumed that the new king would make up for his own lack of experience and understanding by selecting effective ministers and members of his palace staff.

So it was a surprise to some when the king appointed as his prime minister a very popular generalissimo from the armed services. To be sure, the generalissimo was an intelligent and knowledgeable person. However, it quickly became apparent that the generalissimo was a generalissimo. His pronouncements were in the voice of military opinion.

Perhaps he shouldn't have been appointed as minister of defense. Perhaps the king did not understand the difference between military thinking and the pursuit of insightful statesmanship.

There were those among the people who wondered why there weren't more professors from the great colleges and universities of the kingdom named to the ministries. Of course, they should never have wondered because the king obviously had little sense of what higher education is all about, and many of those who elected him were suspicious of professors and other intellectuals.

They assumed that professors and intellectuals had little common sense, and they wanted to be sure that no one would question their opinions or the things they wanted for themselves. Whenever they read the ideas of professors and intellectuals, they said, "I read it, but I had no idea what the heck she was talking about!"

And so, dear king, your majesty, we, too, sometime wonder what the heck you're talking about. Hopefully it won't matter. In the long run, the kingdom may be blessed in spite of you or even because of a decision you make without understanding the intricacies of critical decision-making. It is time to say, "God save the king and us poor 'subjects!'

Richard E. Wentz is a resident of Strawberry, holds a doctorate from George Washington University in American history and served on the faculty at Penn State. Comments and questions can be sent to the Roundup at P.O. Box 2520, Payson, AZ 85008; c/o Richard E. Wentz.

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