If I ruled the world I would forbid all men (all of them) from wearing spray on jeans. If I ruled the world, I would allow Theresa May to dance as much as she wanted, but I’d put a blanket ban on anyone filming her. If I ruled the world I would insist on cafés serving marmalade (why, oh why have so many establishments jettisoned it in favour of jam?). I would air Saturday morning re-runs of ‘The Littlest Hobo’, have a three-day weekend, and make sure that every person, once in their lifetime, gets flash-mobbed by a troupe as good as the cast of Glee singing their favourite song.
And you? What would you do if you ruled the world? I’ve been asking around, canvassing ideas, and collecting responses. J. would enact the entirely impractical rule that everyone must live in another country for one month per year. (Yes, he’s got it; that’s the sort of wholly unworkable and impossible thing I’m after). He would also make the consumption of fudge mandatory for all children and ban them from eating vegetables; his (flawed?) logic being that it would create a sure fire way to turn kids off the sweet stuff and onto the green stuff. S. threw herself into championing street etiquette. If S. ruled the world she would make it illegal for people to look at their phones as they walked down the street and make us all say hello to each other instead. E. would ban the carrying of all umbrellas for anyone shorter than six foot three (his height). I pointed out the prejudicial nature of his ruling. “I’m in charge,” he reminded me, “and you didn’t say it had to be fair.”
He’s right. Common sense, fairness and objectivity weren’t part of the rules, and as we cobbled together our light hearted dictates, it made me think about how impossible a feat ruling the world would be; how borne down I would feel to rule Liechtenstein, never mind the whole world. Most of those who’ve landed themselves a ‘rule the world’ job seem to making a right pig’s ear of it. I know I am casting a cold and critical eye from my kitchen table, and, were I to cut them a tiny bit of slack, I would begin to acknowledge that it can’t be easy. Truth be told, if I ruled the world I don’t think I would be able to get out of the bed in the morning, so crushed would I feel by the weight of responsibility. I saw a news item recently, a retrospective about Obama’s time in office. Apparently he received 65,000 letters each week (never complain about your email inbox again!) and set about to answer ten of them each day. Talk about Sisyphus and his boulder. I’ve no idea what happened to the other 64,990, nor, it seems, did he.
When I look at television footage of world leaders at summits and press conference and coming out of negotiations, I often wonder to myself: “Are they not swallowed up by the mass of life-affecting decisions they have to make? How do they sleep at night?” ‘No’, and, ‘just fine’, seem to be the answers – and I can’t quite make up my mind whether that makes them the perfect candidate for the job or the singularly least appropriate one. Those in power must have a switch they flick, one that inures, desensitises them from feeling overwhelmed by all that is leaning upon them; unless they all are sociopaths (and surely they can’t all be?). Whenever I rant and rave and wonder about this crazy world and the news footage that looks like the stuff of bad dreams, I rest in the knowledge that many people out there are getting out of bed in the morning to quietly and judiciously rule their part of the world – country, state, city, town, street, business, school, community, family – in all good conscience and with every effort to do the right thing.
You’ll know this old joke, but it never grows stale: Early one morning a mother went to her sleeping son and woke him up. “Wake up, son, it’s time to go to school.” “But why, Mum? I don’t want to go to school.” “Son, give me two reasons why you don’t want to go to school.” “One, all the children hate me. Two, all the teachers hate me, …” “Oh! that’s no reason. Come on, you have to go to school.” “Well mum, give me two good reasons WHY I should go to school? “One, you are 52 years old. Two, you’re the principal!”