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What it Means to be a Real KING


(This article is a result of email exchange between me and an American friend)

Reasons why Americans do not like or appreciate the word KING is cultural. 
Americans are taught to have an allergic reaction to anything 'hereditary' - especially power.  

They do not believe it is right to inherit money - it has to be earned.  
They do not believe it is right to inherit position - it has to be merited.
They do not believe it is right to inherit power - it has to be acquired.
They do not believe it is right to inherit rulership - it is wrong wrong wrong.

Americans see a king as an indolent inbreed who sits on a velvet chair with a silly grin, rubber stamping all laws that his advisers put before him.  If the advisers are democratically elected, the king is acceptable to a point.  Otherwise, he is no better than a despot - a dictator by any other name.  For this reason Americans can’t appreciate what a 'King' does.

Fact is, a King has a life long commitment to the country and its well being.  Unlike a democratically elected ruler (president, chancellor, priminister etc), King can’t get away with making short term polices to please an electorate.  Kings have ancestors and descendants to answer to.  Hence their focus was / is always on the long term impact of their rule, not just short term for 4 - 5 years.  Kingdoms are nothing without their subjects.  Kings were acutely aware of this and did everything in their power to bolster and support their citizens.  Their own wealth depended on the wealth and well being of their subjects.  Unlike presidents, Kings offered a multifaceted personality.  King was often a healer, diplomat, judge, fighter, victor, friend and father figure for his subjects.  In many countries, king was also a spiritual guide and leader of his people. 

Kings constantly reaffirmed their ancestral links and ties with their people.  They shared the trials and tribulations of their people.  Their victories and losses were directly related to the support they got from their own people.  In days before 'standing armies' of professionals, it was the people who fought for their king.  For example, during WWI, teenagers enlisted for the army to 'fight for King and country' - not some priminister called Asquith.  Kings shared the anguish of famines and floods with their subjects.  During lean times, it was the king's job to make sure his people did not die off, otherwise he would have no one to rule.  King was the paternal figure his people turned to for succor, justice and protection. 

Kings had to do a 'good job' otherwise their sons and grandsons would have nothing to inherit.  Revolutions and uprisings were just as common as wars.  Without popular support of the masses, kings knew they had no chance of passing on their legacy for their sons.  Kings had a future stake in the well running of their kingdoms.  For this reason, they also made alliances with neighbors to make sure their descendants inherited peaceful borders.  Marriage alliances were made with future of both kingdoms in mind.  

Democratically elected rulers have an incredibly myopic vision of what needs to be done in the next few years to win the next election.  Most democratic countries flip between political parties with opposing policies as its electorate are swayed by slogans, promises and glossy campaigns.  Each new government spends an incredible amount of time and money undoing the work of previous government before beginning to deliver on its own promises.  More often than not, elections come before promises are delivered and the dissatisfied electorate grants a new person a new mandate.  For this reason, most democratic countries oscillate between opposing policies, bumping into policies after failed policies.  Most democratic countries survive despite their foolish governments because the bureaucracy usually slows down the impact of worst policies being passed by voter-pleasing-politicians. 


© Bhagwat Shah   
[email protected]

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