Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears a Crown

If I were made president . . . We throw the phrase around all the time….. I’d get rid of load shedding. I would put a stop to inflation. I would end corruption. I would have education and healthcare made free for all!

What would I do?

If I were made president, I would resign!

Why? Because such a great burden is too heavy to be lifted by my weak shoulders.

The Prophet of Allah (SA) said: “Every one of you is a shepherd and is answerable about his flock.”

It is true that every man is responsible for his own actions, and will be questioned about them on the day of resurrection. But on a ruler rests the fate of the entire state. He is also answerable about the millions that depend on him.

In the words of Francis Bacon:

“Men in great place are thrice servants; of the state, of fame and of business.”

As such, a ruler is the representative of a country at international and national levels. He must be flawless or at least appear to be so.

A ruler is the role model of the nation. It is essential that he possesses fine qualities. This was the ideal thousands of years ago, Princes and successors were trained their whole lives for it, as it is today.

A ruler does not simply decide which percent of the country’s GDP to spend where, neither is his only job managing the states’ businesses and assets. In fact, he is much more. He is a symbol of hope for the entire nation. A personality that infuses people with optimism and courage to do the right act. A personality that people fear and respect. It is his job to keep people united in times of danger and difficulty. He must teach men the school of example, for they will follow no other.

Hazrat Umar (RA), the second Caliph of Islam is reported to have said that even if a dog died of hunger and thirst at the bank of the Euphrates in Baghdad, he would be accountable for it.

A person with such great responsibilities is constantly troubled. He has no time to think for himself. His world revolves around his people. His day and night are centered on the people whom he owes.

Liaquat Ali Khan said that whenever he gave his family something, he first questioned himself whether every Pakistani father could provide such facilities to his family.

If a single subject was not being given justice, the ruler would be accountable. It is a great title; the title of a leader. And with every station comes responsibility.

An ancient Greek story incorporates this notion perfectly. According to the story, Damocles was pandering to Dionysus, his king, and exclaimed to him that he was truly fortunate as a great man of power and authority, surrounded by magnificence. Dionysius then offered to switch places with Damocles so that Damocles could taste that very fortune firsthand. Damocles quickly and eagerly accepted the king’s proposal. Damocles sat down in the king’s throne surrounded by every luxury .In the middle of this luxury Dionysius ordered that a shining sword, fastened from the ceiling by a horse-hair, be let down so that it hung over the neck of that fortunate man. And so he looked neither at those handsome waiters nor the wonderful silver work, nor did he stretch his hand to the table. Damocles finally begged the king that he be allowed to depart, because he no longer wanted to be so fortunate. He had realized that with great fortune and power comes also great responsibility (and danger).

King Dionysus effectively conveyed the sense of constant fear in which all great men live. Cicero  (A Greek writer) used this story as the last in a series, in which the theme is that virtue is sufficient for living a happy life. Cicero asks, “Does not Dionysus seem to have made it sufficiently clear that there can be nothing happy for the person over whom some fear always looms?”

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