Can the elephant and mouse coexist?

For centuries, world politics has been organized around kingdoms, empires and states, but with the development of alternative political movements the understanding and perception of governance is being transformed. In a similar way that the methods and forms of governance were pivotal in the transition from the medieval to the modern world, they are now equally important in making transitions from the modern world into an unfolding future. 

The politics of governance has occupied a central point in the midst of global governments, multi-national corporations, technology, open markets, political violence, fundamentalism and peoples’ power. All these trends are occurring in simultaneous waves and creating compelling circumstances that are forcing governance to make a dramatic departure from its traditional structures and functions. This does not necessarily mean that all changes and adjustments have been most appropriate or made with the consent of people. Therefore, while some have taken constructive positions towards this growing need, others have assumed rigid positions.

In this period of transitionary disorder worldwide there is an ongoing struggle between contradicting forces. Those that pursue to seize power from the top propagate good-governance, while those that struggle to establish alternate just power relations from the bottom, advocate self-governance. The confrontation between the top and bottom has had an impact not just on conventional politics but on all areas of life; and much of the argument is being waged through the media. 

The lines between the two are quite clearly demarcated. For instance, while global corporate generates wealth, the people and communities focus on democratic economic systems that support sustainable processes of dealing with poverty. There is a paradigm shift that represents moving from efforts to solve the latest crisis, to addressing the deeper causes of crisis. In situations of such nature, time is of the essence because history has shown that time collapses into a mire of timelessness and therefore has the potential of taking the present back to the past. 

In the continuous struggle for humanity it is easy to get caught-up in the never-ending cycle of consequences where the details blur the vision. Consequently, one gets frozen in the history of time. To avoid displacement of priorities, it is critical that deeper and broader issues of details are not lost sight of, and to allow the vision to act as the guiding star towards the intended destination. 

The struggle therefore, is not about building an ideal, but involves creating a process that respects and upholds ethical values. It is about changing the nature of institutions and making them more inclusive, humanistic, democratic, and future oriented. It reflects a system that builds bridges and supports negotiating differences and creating shared realities. If societies are unable to embark on the search for alternatives, it may lead to a world that is ungovernable for all! 

Within this context how often have we seen those at the top – the powers that be – resort and depend on the elephant to crush the mouse; and how often have we experience that this method has never provided the best answer to the human predicament. The tendency to turn to the elephant has been almost a ritualistic habit of the powers that be right since the dawn of human kind; and ever so consistently empirical truth has clearly demonstrated that the elephant has never quite succeeded in crushing the mouse. The politics of governance after all is not about using the elephant to crush the mouse, it demands a more complex responsibility, which is to create a viable condition that will enable both elephant and mouse to co-exit together with mutual respect and dignity. Now, that’s governance!