February 27, 2011 by Aisyah H. Zaelani
The way Qaddafi thinks is just beyond of my common sense. It reminds me of Nurdin Halids (Today’s PSSI Chairman) way of thinking. These two gentlemen (*spits*) are being persistent and over-confident to think that their people want them to remain sitting on their thrones. While the nation and the world are obviously against them, they still think (or fool themselves in hopes other people are as fool as they are) that the riots and every other thing that meant to bring them down are ‘tailored’. Meh!
(This post is quoted from The Jakarta Globe today’s article. Written by Desi Anwar)
Dictators, to quote a Twitter message by writer Paulo Coelho, are “monsters who always look cool until the last 10 minutes.” Those last 10 minutes when they are brought down with a mighty fall and exposed for who they really are: monsters.
In the case of the belligerent Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, it seems inconceivable to him that he could be anything other than loved by his people, and he’s been quite happy to massacre his own citizens to prove his point. The grossness of his delusion is such that he is convinced that those who oppose him could only be antigovernment agents, foreign enemies and those on drugs.
He is in the right and those who oppose him are in the wrong. It would probably never enter his mind that his people are just fed up with him and want a change of government. The only thing that will wake him up to reality is not his conscience but if he is pushed out by a greater force.
Such was the case for recently ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and former Indonesian President Suharto. It took a greater power to finally make them see reality.
It was not so much the demonstrations and chanting in the streets that brought them down, rather it was the realization that their power base had evaporated and no might, military or otherwise, could prop them up any longer. It probably had not occurred to them that they were no longer the father the nation needed.
This is the dictator’s delusion. So foreign are criticisms that once confronted with an overt show of disapproval by their formerly docile populace, they find it hard to comprehend the significance of what is happening.
This delusion — in exaggerated form — is something many authoritarian leaders share to varying degrees.
The gap between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us is what gives us all our own unique identities. At the same time, however, it can mean that we have difficulty understanding each other.
I don’t know anybody who likes being criticized. If I hear 10 compliments and one criticism, chances are the only thing I remember clearly is the criticism.
Moreover, the effect of being criticized is almost physical, the harsh words enter the nervous system like a fingernail dragged across a chalkboard: sharp and painfully unbearable.
Our bodies have an instinctive reaction against being criticized. It is like a form of trauma that gets played in one’s head over and over again, at the expense of other and more important issues, not to mention a good night sleep.
“How could they think about me like that? Don’t they realize how wrong they are and how right I am?”
Often it is not the substance of the criticism itself that causes anguish, but the fact that one’s weaknesses and imperfections are being pointed out. We rarely see criticisms, however well-meaning or constructive, as a means to improve ourselves or tools with which to correct our mistakes.
Being able to see things from different perspectives and with detachment is a skill that even the wisest of leaders and statesmen find difficult to master with perfection, mostly because it requires shedding that part of being human that often puts us in trouble: the Ego.
A person’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth is prone to inflation and delusion in proportion to growing power. When an ego gets out of control it can lead to an inability to see things as they truly are.
Closer to home, the television station where I ply my trade was criticized openly by a government official for being too hard on the government. The official recommended all government departments boycott the station by not advertising on the channel, presumably with the hope that the station would bleed to death from lack of revenue.
To be sure, the government could carry out the threat without broadcasting it to the public, but by airing his grievance openly the minister only highlighted one thing: the government doesn’t like criticism.
Now if we have learned one thing since the fall of the New Order regime it is that criticism is what greases the wheels of democracy. It is the duty and responsibility of the media to point out government weaknesses and shortcomings to make sure it doesn’t stray from its mandate.
And if the government feels it is receiving more criticism than is due, then it should remember that the media is the fourth pillar of democracy. Being criticized on the airwaves is a lot less painful than being shouted down from the streets.