Whose Kingdom for some saving grace?

It has been well said that the true mettle of leaders is tested by a baptism of fire. People in positions of power and authority who perform well under trying and testing circumstances are more likely to be remembered kindly by history as well as their subjects. Grace under pressure. Mercy like a river. Power with passion and purpose. Wait, don’t turn that page!

This is not empty prose. It is meant to provoke, challenge, stimulate. How you respond, dear reader, will test your heart. And mind. And resolve to act. Rather than merely pontificating and laying the blame for the tragedies unfolding around us at the feet of the state and a generation of lazy, wasteful, crooked, corrupt politicos…

Where is the need the greatest?

Unless you have been living in cloud cuckoo land these past few weeks and months, you could not have failed to notice that large tracts of your country are under water. If you are hoping that this will all go away soon enough so that you can enjoy the Cricket World Cup in peace – go ahead, and please shut the door after you when you flip the page to more appealing sections of your favourite weekly newspaper. What? Are you still here? Good…

Whom are you seeking to benefit?

Chances are that if you’re still with us (look around, folks, at this faithful little remnant), you’re more than a mere spectator. You belong to that rare and select breed whose heart is moved by the misfortune of their brothers and sisters. Hope springs eternal that even the handful of you who are awed by the forces of nature and shocked by the devastation it has wreaked in the recent past are do-gooders, not onlookers. Those who will recognize where the neediest segments of our populace live, identify with their need, and respond in a tangible way. They’re at their wit’s end, standing in a foot of mud and gunk and slime – and but for grace it could have been you in a camp…

Why me? Why you? Why us?

Because if you’re lazing it out on a balmy Sunday morning such as this, cocooned in creature comforts in your urban condo or luxuriating on the lawn or verandah of your suburban bungalow, then need I say more? You’re literate, worldly-wise, pampered and cosseted, probably spoilt for choice, wealthy, privileged, dutiful, noble – all right, I don’t need to rub it in! Noblesse oblige, dears – and don’t be the kind of noble folks who don’t oblige! We have too many of those passenger-patriots and pseudo-democrats as it is, no?

What do you have that is of value?

In addition to the riches itemized above, there’s your money and your contacts and your influence and your other resources. So let’s spare the “my kingdom for a horse” business, shall we? Everyone except the taxman knows how much booty you have stashed away… you keep telling us often enough, eh. But there’s no point flaunting it in words, dear, it’s deeds that count in the short to medium turn. As that nice economics-minded man said, “In the long run, we are all dead.” So get with it. Pronto.

When is the time to act?

See above. Pronto! Get with it… If you had a penny for every time someone blamed the state of the nation on the nature of its statesmen, how many pennies would you have? Now the buck stops with you!!

Which way should we be moving?

Go east, young man (and woman, and child). And north and south and wherever else an ill wind has blown your island). The media these days will give you a clue as to the lie of the land (submerged, washed away, harvests devastated). But lest the flesh faint and the spirit be weak, neither fear nor fail. Even if you can’t go in person (which would be ideal but unrealistic perhaps), your treasure can, must, and shall follow your heart. The state is reputed to be waking from its traditional stupor to lend a helping hand. The private sector has a public agenda in playing the Good Samaritan. And you too can get in on the act. Donate. Encourage others to do so. Contribute with skill and discernment. You don’t want to throw good money after bad, do you?

How have you responded to the soul-searching above? Are you a mere reader only… or is the leader in you stirred to action? The fate of millions of your fellow citizens is literally in your hands! Now, not merely the elected and appointed representatives of the people can let the population down. You, too, have a hand in the destiny of the nation!

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