If I Were In Charge ...

AROUND THE RIM COUNTRY

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If it's good to be king, it's even better to be dictator.

One of the things you can count on as sure as death and taxes is that all of the world's tinhorn dictators will issue books containing their words of wisdom and rules to live by.

China's Mao Tse-tung had his Little Red Book. Less well known is the Green Book of Libya's Moamar Gadhafi.

In keeping with this grand tradition, it comes as little surprise that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has published a white pamphlet containing the precepts and principles he, in his infinite wisdom, believes will make the world a better place.

In a recent Associated Press article about this development, Bassem Mroue reports that Saddam's tome (humbly titled "Saddam Hussein: Great Lessons, Commandments to Strugglers, the Patient and Holy Warriors) contains such gems as:

  • "Don't be attracted to easy paths because the paths that make your feet bleed are the only way to get ahead in life."

(To which one is tempted to add: To minimize bleeding, always wear shoes.)

  • "Don't provoke a snake unless you have the intention and power to cut off its head."

(A handy postscript here might be: To facilitate head removal, always carry a sharp knife.)

And so it goes through all 57 quotations contained in "Great Lessons." (And in this world of Satanic influences, we must at least wonder if it is only a coincidence that Saddam's pamphlet contains exactly the same number of precepts as Heinz has varieties?)

The good thing about being a tinhorn dictator is that you have the ability to disseminate (some prefer the term "force-feed") your words of wisdom to your people in unique and fun ways.

In Iraq, the 57 commandments are painted on school walls, carved on statues, splashed across giant billboards, framed and hung on walls in government offices, and printed in newspapers, all of which, Mroue reports, are controlled by Saddam's Baath Party or his son, Odai (not to be confused with Garfield's dog sidekick, Odie).

Of course, tinhorn dictators don't have the commandment and precept market cornered. There are a lot of little books out there containing tenets on any number of subjects.

"Life's Little Instruction Book" is a pocket-size, plaid-covered book that author H. Jackson Brown, Jr. began as a "list of advice" for a son who was going away to college. It's so much fun playing God that Brown is still cranking out new volumes containing such moral teachings as:

  • If somebody offers you a breath mint, take it.
  • Never get a tattoo.
  • Life is short. Eat more pancakes and fewer rice cakes. (This precept sponsored by the National Pancake Growers Association.)

And my favorite (which really is in there):

  • Go to rodeos.

Another little book of rules, this one black, was given to me by a female friend. It's called "A Man's Guide to Being a Woman's Best Friend," and is subtitled "The Only Little Black Book A Man Will Ever Need."

Among its gems:

  • Admit you're wrong.
  • Never expect her to be wrong.
  • Be open and vulnerable.
  • Maintain a life insurance policy on yourself.
  • Prepare your will.

While I hesitate to revisit that whole Mars-Venus thing, especially in light of the last two precepts, I must say that were I to pen a similar book for women, it would contain just one rule:

  • Lighten up.

But since I would be a fool to go there, I have decided it might be safer and more fun to play dictator of Payson and put out my own little list of ... "The Top 10 Rules for Rimaroos":

10. Never use the "B__head" word when talking about the pre-historic people who used to live in these parts. It ticks off the historic ones down at the museum.

9. Don't speed on Tyler Parkway, even though Police Chief Gordon Gartner said in a town council meeting that his guys don't enforce the 25 mph limit. I've been stopped twice.

8. Don't forget to dress warmly for the Electric Light Parade. It's always 26 degrees colder on Main Street than anywhere else in Payson.

7. Speaking of Main Street, don't get in a snit over it. It's probably the best investment we can make in our future.

6. If you're going to run for public office, stay home at night.

5. Make it a point to religiously pick up and read The Rim Review.

4. Ditto for the Payson Roundup.

3. Neither a borrower nor a gossiper be.

2. Don't go hiking in flip-flops, and remember that Bics were never intended to start signal fires.

And, of course...

1. Go to rodeos.

It really is better to be dictator. Now I have to go eat some pancakes.

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