Monday, September 12, 2011

Hug a Politician

In 2006, a teenage boy walked up to Australian Prime Minister of the time, John Howard, and gave him a hug. Howard was strolling along the banks of Melbourne’s Yarra River when this happened.

There were a couple of remarkable things about this incident. First, John Howard was surrounded by members of the Secret Service who should have prevented this hug from happening. Second, photos revealed that the boy, who, despite his young age, was considerably taller than Howard, was holding a sharp screwdriver at the time.

But it was okay. The boy just happened to have the screwdriver in his hand when he saw the very huggable Mr Howard taking his morning walk. No one was hurt. In fact people laughed. Australians congratulated themselves for living in a country in which a young man has the freedom to walk up to the Prime Minister and give him (or her) a hug.

Recently, a relation of mine, exercising his right to speak freely on political matters, told me this joke:

Prime Minister Gillard and opposition leader Abbott were seated next to each other on an aeroplane.

Abbott said, “I could throw a cheque for $1000 out the window and make one person happy.”

To which Gillard replied, “I could throw 10 $100 notes out the window and make 10 people happy.”

Another passenger overheard this exchange and added “I could throw the two of you out the window and make everyone happy.”

Sometimes a joke, like a hug, can show one the truth. By these two things – the joke and the hug – I was reminded that, for all their spin, politicians are just people.

Politicians are people but, even though we can hug the Prime Minister or make a joke at her expense, we still treat them as if they are superhuman. We let politicians make our decisions for us, even when we don’t believe those decisions are in the best interests of the majority.

You don’t have to wave a placard or hug the Prime Minister to make a difference. You can tell a joke or write a letter to your local MP. You can have your say from the comfort of your own home.

Now that’s freedom.

No comments:

Post a Comment