When is “Voicing Out” just Meddling?
Posted by intellisg on July 20, 2007
We all know the phrase only too well, don’t we? “Don’t meddle in things that don’t concern you?” To paraphrase in Singlish, “why are you so like dat! Don’t be so kay poh la?” But hold on a second, I have a “right” don’t I? To pontificate about why I loath the Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer only because I believe it masquerades some secret plot to glorify Neo-Nazi’s. Yes, the hills were certainly filled with the sounds of Jews being herded off to concentration camps. What about environmental degradation? I have a ‘right’ to voice my view about global warming and rising sea tides. For goodness sake, I stay next to the sea! I have a vested interest! Right? And no one can stop me, I don’t care whether it’s the ISD, Mindef or even his holiness the Dalai Lama in a ducky suit. I have a right! Err don’t I?
Yes, I do!
So I started “meddling”. Granted its hardly impressive meddling, judging from the dismal hits I get in from my articles, just my sister and me so far. Fortunately anyone with an ounce of common sense probably gives as much credence to my ill informed ramblings as the croaks of frogs.
Besides I don’t really don’t count. I am a loser. But what happens: when seemingly influential people who are unelected begin to make comments? I am of course referring to that privilege lot who don’t have to figure out why we all need superglue, rubber bands and sellotape. Folk who don’t have to make do, the likes of film stars, royalty and members of the first family like the Kennedy’s and the Rostchilds of this world.
What happens? When they begin to make all sorts of pronouncements about the common good, architecture, social and political happenings – are they just commenting? Or are they meddling?
Well that depends largely on whether they have such a thing as a legitimate ‘right.” For example we all know people who are in positions of power either by design or default need to exercise caution. When Alan Greenspan was heading the US Treasury, he refrained from making comments about the stock performance of individual firms, only because it was deemed inappropriate for such an influential figure to color the outlook of the business landscape. The same corseted onus, is imposed on judges and lawyers whenever they are adjudicating over a brief, they can’t comment on proceedings without necessarily prejudicing the case.
Should we impose the same ‘duty of care’ on these ‘special’ people?
After all, unlike toad in the frog me, who is content to only listen to his ramblings all day, these personalities have real influence, their voice reverberates far and wide. Partly due to their privileged background and the media frenzy along with everything that goes with them, the aura, mystique along with the secret handshake and wink that simply says, “you’re part of the inner circle.”
Is it such a wonder when they begin to pontificate, most of us put down everything and prick our ears up to listen?
Especially when the comment relates to an issue that seems to reflect many of our ongoing concerns and anxieties about planet and people. Now I know and so do you, these ‘extraordinary’ people usually inhabit a rarefied world, far removed from ours – they don’t even have the experiential knowledge, let alone the right qualifications comment credibly on the affairs of space monkeys! Neither are they gifted, take the case of the Kennedy’s judging by the way, they regularly fly into the sea or overdose, they don’t even a grasp of spatial awareness.
So again, do they have a right to comment on the stuff which affect the rest of us? Aren’t they perhaps meddling in business that doesn’t concern them?
Take the case of Britain’s Prince Charles who I consider to be a meddler par excellence who regularly proclaims his worldview from everything ranging from organic veggies to why he thinks McDonalds should be banned. Not content with pontificating about architecture, school kitchens, homeopathy and genetically modified veggies, Charles has even publicly stated his stance against the war in Iraq which he believes to be “unconstitutional” and a “serious threat against democracy.”
Is he meddling in affairs that he clearly has no business too? Has he crossed the line?
After all he’s not even an elected anyone!? Is he perhaps a constitutional expert? Nope. One could even argue the case, here we have a man who lives a life of unbelievable luxury and privilege, a man who is so divorced from the ordinary, surrounded by fawning courtiers, he might as well be in a hermetically sealed ivory bunker! A man who only claim to standing as a common sense expert is the sum of all his geraniums, yet he still has epic tantrums if he doesn’t get his way – hardly even worth 30 secs of ear time, but it still answer the question: doesn’t Prince Charles have the right to comment? Or shall I say meddle like the rest of us? I am sure, he’s genuinely passionate about improving planet and people.
Many will say yes, only because his pedigree and status is one that’s lends an all together disproportionate level of influence which can be directed towards worthy causes. That allows him to leverage on his fame to produce good. We all know the Prince’s Trust is a worthwhile cause, and he has raised millions for charity helping thousands of kids all round the world, isn’t that a case that suggest he’s not meddling, but instead using his special position to produce good? And if that’s answered in the affirmative: are we perhaps applying double standards here? Why is alright for someone like Prince Charles to use his fame to pay the way for a new hospital wing, but when it comes to voicing out his opinions about the war in Iraq, its so often greeted with cries of ‘shut up’ and ‘ go get elected!’
Mmmmh? A hubris?
The problem with that ideological premise is it fails to recognize, good is good, even if it comes from someone who isn’t elected, comes from a privilege lineage and doesn’t even have any qualifications beyond being a royal pontificator. How do these hard truths measure up alongside notions of reality?
Is he still a meddler or just a commentator like the rest of us, albeit one where he simply garners a fair share of supporters and detractors?
I really don’t know. But it’s a discussion that throws out the question that we all need to pose to ourselves: why do we ascribe so much importance to what ‘special’ people have to say? Why do we consider their world view even remotely relevant when all our logical faculties tells us, we should just throw down it down the chute? They don’t know how its like for the little folk who have to turn the great wheel of life, so why do we give what they have to say an inordinate currency which elevates them to the status of soothsayers?
Are we the one’s who are to blame? Did we fashion the golden calf?
One reason could be because society has lost confidence in their leaders and traditional role models, this invariably sharpens the sense of estrangement and amplifies the voices of these ‘special’ lot – what psychologist often refer too as the “Lady Di syndrome” – they may be flawed, neither possessing even 2 cells of an IQ beyond thinking with their buttocks – but like a subsets in the system, we all identify with them – so all to often their narrative mirrors very much what we all feel about our own sense of alienation, displacement and even morass about the established order.
Another possible reason could be because, the system (or any system for that matter) and this could really be any bureaucracy ranging from the military to the dept who hires those pesky car coupon aunties have effectively never ever need to piss, eat or sit and chiak chua (eat snake) has disenfranchised one segment of society; that’s bound to create bad karma and we have all have gripes don’t we? We all yearn for a voice that validates? The one where we can all say, “Bingo! That’s what I have always suspected all along! Mother&$#*@!
The pathos of the disenchanted is best summed by Arturo Perez- Reverte, when the main protagonist ask a priest, why people continue to hear the voice from the wilderness and even choose to believe them and support them,
“It’s a mirror to all our inner cries and is it so strange that we ask not who utters it or even why, only that it comes forth from the tower – the chorus of the silent majority. So listen we must and believe we will.”
Some may cite me as bovine, for making light of a matter which deserves at least a pretense of consternation. The bottom line, they contend is: these glorified windbags aren’t just jolly jaunting whenever they comment about matters which they have no business to do so. Their pronouncements about system failures, management lapses, policy issues and the direction of research are nothing less than harming the bureaucratic system and its simply a case of abuse of power – and if they don’t stop embroiling themselves in issues of controversy, it will simply be tantamount to condoning interference by undermining the integrity of the constitutional system. I admit, their case remains compelling, no political order, not even a totalitarian system like North Korea is in a position that’s so resilient it can withstand illegitimate interference on an ongoing basis without withering to bits.
At the end of the day meddling from unelected personalities is corrosive! It serves only to undermine credibility in the system, blurs the rule of law, cloud the role and goals of bureaucrats and produces no discernable positive contribution to society whatsoever.
I hear you, I do.
But even these constitutionalist have to admit what if these voices from the wilderness which emerge from the ‘special’ people like film stars, royalty and first families suddenly fail silent?
Will the world be a better place? Will he finally be able to save the whales?
I really don’t know. On things certain though, I for one shall miss them along with their ridiculous rants and petulant tantrums. I dare say I may even miss their meddling even more only because they make me laugh no end.
And that’s a real comment, just in case you accuse me of meddling.
May I take this opportunity to wish you and your family an enjoyable week end.
(This has been brought to you by Aurora your friendly brotherhood controller – Darkness: When is Voicing Out Meddling? – 2007 / Executive Summary 990395 – 2007 of Extended Piece (EP 990395 – The Brotherhood Press 2007)
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