Friday, February 15, 2013

Dear Mr President,

Last night I had a dream and you were in it. It was a dream of two parts, but both parts played out in my head in scenes from the movie 'Gladiator'. In the first part, you were standing up in the Emperor's box of the amphitheater with your arm outstretched and your thumb sideways in the air. There was an eerie silence as your thumb quivered slightly, and then a roar as you pointed it slowly downwards. In the second part, you were down in the dust of the arena, wearing a gladiator's armor that was lightly speckled with blood. You took off your helmet, raised your head to look up at the cheering mob and screamed "Are you not entertained?", your eyes ablaze with near-incandescent rage. The crowd continued to cheer while you dropped to your knees and wept. Then everything went dark.

I woke up to the news that you have now rejected another four mercy petitions, and seven more are on the way to you. Afzal Guru, the man whose plea you rejected a week ago, is now dead, killed to satisfy the collective conscience of our great nation. For what it's worth, my own conscience does not feel satisfied; in fact, of late it has been feeling distinctly uneasy. It is unnerving, particularly as it has forced me to examine my own flaws. I suspect there are many who feel the same way, even if only somewhere deep inside their being where these types of thoughts reside. But collective conscience, I assume, is more of a metaphysical thing, something greater than the sum of our individual consciences. I can see why the concept is comforting.

Anyway, I do not want to waste too much of your time. I am sure you have better things to do than read the nocturnal ramblings of a disenchanted citizen. The truth is, I cannot claim to have any knowledge of these people's innocence or guilt, or indeed the pressures that no doubt come with your job. You are, after all, both the Emperor and the gladiator. But before I go, I just wanted to share a little bit of dialogue from another movie called 'Schindler's List' which I would highly recommend that you watch, if you ever get the chance.

Oskar Schindler: Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don't.
Amon Goeth: You think that's power?
Oskar Schindler: That's what the Emperor said. A man steals something, he's brought in before the Emperor, he throws himself down on the ground. He begs for his life, he knows he's going to die. And the Emperor... pardons him. This seemingly worthless man, he lets him go.
Amon Goeth: I think you are drunk.
Oskar Schindler: That's power, Amon. That is power.

Thank you, Mr President.

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