Monday, November 07, 2011

Having mercy with unjust leaders

Looking at the rows of events in Libya reminded me about my own country in 1998, when President Suharto (may God have mercy on his soul) was brought down by people power. The two events may look similar, but there is significant difference between them, as I will mention next.

In the case of Libya, although being guilty for committing many injustices, it still horrified me to see how people had the heart to brutally torture and murder the fallen leader. Not just that, but they even had in themselves the heart to display the corpse in a shopping center freezer. Was it really necessary to humiliate him even in his death?

Contrary to what happened in Libya, when President Suharto stepped down in 1998, the people were able to forgive (although not forget) about it. He didn’t even need to flee from Indonesia and lived a normal life until he died in 2008. That showed that Indonesians have a big heart. To me, holding back and having mercy is much better, albeit much more difficult, than letting all emotions and hatred go loose.

People forget to think deep about leadership and how difficult it is to be in that position. As Baron Acton, a historian and moralist in the 19th century would say, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Although now we can shout and scream about the injustice that our leaders commit, perhaps we won’t be doing too well either if we were in their position.

Leadership is a tribulation. A test for whomever it is given to. And not many succeed with flying colors. Thus, we should keep the balance between condemning and having mercy towards our unjust leaders, and do our best to take the wisdom behind their appointment.