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Papua New Guinea ‘Quo Vadis’? (Whither Thou Goest?)

Albert Einstein


GOLD COAST - The constant issue everyone seems to agree on these days is the demonstrable lack of real leaders who can enunciate both a clear vision and a set of achievable national objectives.

Whether it be at social get-togethers or standing in line waiting to pay for groceries, everyone seems to be agree on the same issue. While I don’t immerse myself in social media, I know that is discussing much the same thing (if one excludes ‘fake news’).

So if most people agree on the problem, why is it so difficult to devise an effective solution?

Therein lies the real issue. Collective inertia. While total collapse can be put off until some time in the future, we still enjoy our days in the sun.

Yet we all know that, at some irrevocable point ahead, the proverbial chickens will come home to roost.  At least, perhaps we hope, that might happen on someone else’s watch.

Après moi, le déluge’ (after me, the deluge) is a quote attributed to the King Louis XV of France (1710–74) and acknowledges that, while he enjoyed the good times, his successor would inevitably end up paying the price of so much extravagance.

He was correct, his successor (Louis XVI) being beheaded in the gory French revolution that followed.

So with all our knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, why is it that we keep making the same mistakes? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” Albert Einstein (probably incorrectly) is reputed to have said.

While clearly Einstein was a genius, this trait of human frailty has been noted down the millennia of human history.

So why is it humans haven’t learnt to recognise that which doesn’t work?

Perhaps because it’s easier to get high on the sugar fix of comfort and leave the inevitable low which follows for someone else to suffer. The timing of the perpetrator’s escape is crucial. How long can the good times be drawn out before the bad times arrive?

Phil Fitzpatrick has pointed out that for the vast majority or Papua New Guineans who aren’t part of the global economy, the global financial crisis of 10 years ago meant very little.

The observation recognises that, in a number of respects, the lives of very many people aren’t in any material way much changed from how their forefathers lived. As some wag pointed out to the Speaker in a previous PNG parliament, “You can get progress forwards but you can also get progress backwards.”

So inevitably one arrives at the source of the problem. As long as someone can put off the day of reckoning, for that person at that time it is an effective way of dealing with the problem.

There’s no problem until it become impossible to ignore. Like sweeping dust under the mat until someone trips over the hump.

So in the words of that old university song:

Gaudeamus igitur,
Juvenes dum sumus;
Post icundum iuventutem,
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus.

Let us therefore rejoice,
While we are young;
After our youth,
After a troublesome old age
The ground will hold us.

Or (in my words), ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’.

Gosh! Hold on. Maybe all those sweet words have deluded me from thinking about what I really am upset about.

Aiyah! Nau tasol het bilo mi klia liklik na mi malgalim ol samting bilo yu ya!


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Philip Kai Morre

I admire the old Latin song composed by monks, who were also the pioneers of medieval universities. Gaudiamus was normally sung before graduation.

Albert Einstein was trying to solve the complex problem of the universe and his theory on relativity was considered madness because he was thinking ahead of his time. Later scientists came to find out that he was accurate.

It's not that some scientists are mad, but they think outside the box which no normal person can comprehend.

Another such person was Sigmund Fraud, the Austrian psychoanalyst. Both Einstein and Freud were of Jewish origin.

One studied and discovered the inner world of human personality and consciousness; the other studied the outer world of time, space and energy.

Paul Oates

Thanks Rashmii. The solution for that particular problem is unfortunately easy to determine and yet extremely hard to find.

Ethical and effective leadership.

Rashmii Bell

Collective inertia. Agreed, Paul.

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