Her Majesty, after her morning sherry, pins a new corgi calendar next to the Gainsborough and purses her lips. Endless reign is in her forecast.
“Phillip,” she calls over her shoulder, “if Charles doesn’t become king, what will he be?”
“Bloody nuisance, I expect,” says the crusty duke.
Heads wearing crowns are not the only ones uneasy these days. So are those of other heads of government, whether they are dictators or have been chosen by suffrage to serve.
President Barack Obama finds himself hobbled by a constitution built by blinkered visionaries smoking clay pipes. He’s being asked to provide too many things to too many people: They’re demanding guns AND butter.
He’s got his Nobel Peace Prize, but his Middle East achievements are likely to remain as middling as they are meddling. America is supposed to be the world’s Atlas, but it’s becoming tired.
In Canada, things seem brighter for the prime minister. Stephen Harper is driving his omnibus government nagged at but unhindered. His only concern might be that Justin Trudeau proves to be more like his father than his mother.
In many parts of the world, the survival of the unfittest to govern is being threatened. In many parts of the world, regimes that replace others are just as objectionable.
The world, though, is more than the sum of its leaders. People are becoming aware that their fate often lies in hands with butterfingers and there are signs that they want to snatch it back.
The 90 per centers are fed up with the 10 per centers or whatever they are. If they rise up in unexpected places and take to the streets, nobody should be surprised — least of all the governors who kowtow to the 10 per centers because their political survival depends on them.
The fates of nations are affected by self-appointed, unaccountable outfits that claim to know a lot more than they do. Credit ratings are so important because so much credit is demanded. It’s absurd that a drop from triple A to double A, as determined by gnomes of avarice in faraway places, can shake regional economies.
It’s absurd, too, that economic and budgetary forecasts should be considered so important when they’re no more reliable than weather forecasts.
Human beings are considered parts of an economic machine without thoughts and passions of their own. Jobs are important more for the wealth they make for others than for the pay and self-worth of those who fill them.
It’s beginning to occur to people that there are things more important than getting and spending — that there is value, too, in what has no price.
And it’s appropriate that the deficiencies of our governance in Canada should be pointed out to us as we begin a new year by the descendants of those who were here before the Europeans came.
The Idle No More movement launched by First Nations leaders is more than a protest against the neglectful and misguided policies of successive governments in Ottawa that has made so many of their lives solitary, poor, nasty and short. It’s more than a protest against treaties that have been violated.
It’s a protest, too, against government neglect, disguised as forced austerity or fiscal responsibility, that leaves the nation’s habitats and those who inhabit them at risk. By extension, it’s a protest against laws that aren’t enforced, against responsibilities that aren’t assumed, against principles that are ignored.
People have risen up against brutal regimes before. Now they are demonstrating anger against misguided governments with an idle concern for the priorities of those they govern — against a national interest that knows no other.
Aboriginals are rallying to protect quiet places where their ancestors trod from despoiling juggernauts. Others want to preserve what gives value to their lives.
They claim the mastery of their fates. Their masters will listen — or they’ll be displaced like an old calendar.