Te whetu Orongo

Shame is a soul eating emotion.

– Carl Gustav Yung, Swiss psychiatrist

While primitive societies thrived and flourished in the embrace of the law of nature for thousands of years, European political thought emerged — immersed in ideas of change and reform to religion and politics.

It became synonymous with the perpetually relevant caveat: What fig leaf are you wearing, an allegorical reference to the biblical edict of hiding shame.

In the social context, your fig leaf emerges and appears as a man or woman with endless potential. In the religious realms you are a deist, agnostic, theist, atheist, etc. In the political wilderness you are right-wing or left-wing allowing yourself to don an appropriate fig leaf if and when convenient.

Thinkers, opinion-spinners, and persuaders wearing various forms and types of fig leaves unleashed a new wave of thinking — Machiavelli, Hobbes, Adam Smith, John Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, John Stuart Mill — and others wanting to showcase their fig leaves and earn recognition, reward and respect in the unexplored and unexplainable wastelands of social, religious and political vacuums.

All was, and is, well as long a steady supply of human beings and animals are available to be managed, controlled, and exploited.

The rule by law masquerading as the rule of law became dominant by the “unaccountable sovereign” (the Hobbesian fig leaf) while the astute and courageous carved out another type of fig leaf to level the playground with doctrines like quod fieri non debet, factum valet — what should not be done, yet being done, becomes valid.

In other words, what is wrong is wrong, but if made right by coercion and the fear of punishment, it is acceptable and valid under legislation or judge-made law.

Thereafter, having established this one-size-fits-all fig leaf, the “unaccountable sovereign” decided to measure, design and promote another type of fig leaf to take property at will under the threat of the rule by law.

This fig leaf became known as nemo dat quod non habet — a person who does not own property cannot confer it on another except with the true owner’s identity and authority. Think Adorna Properties, and native land at the express command of the supreme being in government. This fig leaf works wonders.

But, ultimately, we the people must adjust ourselves to the inexorable and inevitable warning: what fig leaf should we wear in the political thickets and brambles we are thrust into hoping to find a way out to a danger-free clearing.

Edmund Burke warned that the only thing that will allow evil to triumph is when good people do nothing. The preferred fig leaf involves selecting, voting and electing career politicians to avoid bloody or bloodless revolutions.

Seasonal conditioning by the unaccountable sovereign works wonders to a docile populace happy with the status quo. The don’t-rock-the-boat fig leaf.

We the people wear so many types of fig leaves that help bring in fortunes to psychoanalysts, psychiatrists and psychologists. Being sensitive, insensitive and over-sensitive is the most common universal fig leaf welcomed by many who blame the smallest or the biggest for everything that goes wrong without looking inwards at themselves where the real problem lies.

Another universal fig leaf is the willingness to obey the flaws in enacted laws.

First, the unaccountable sovereign creates a problem, thereafter finds a solution through a series of written laws, enact the laws forcefully, and bingo — everyone finds themselves in the revenue-generation business be it the public or private sector.

Many years ago, my name-card bore the word “Flawyer” under my name. Many asked me whether it was a typo. I reassured them that it meant a lawyer dedicated to finding flaws in the law.

The worst type of fig leaf is condescension reversible as adulation, or a perfect fit for all reasons and seasons when fear and guilt become an expected necessary social norm – the minnow mentality afraid of the big sharks.

An inter-changeable fig leaf. The tailor who designed this fig leaf made trebly sure that you will fail to address the source, but spend all your precious time trying to cure the consequences.

We the people must always be on guard to watch the watchmen.

Get rid of whatever fig leaf you have been involuntarily made to wear. Take a crash-course in responsibility, and you will be able to create a near-perfect society which will automatically engender, and force, good governance. Never make a deal with ignorance.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.