- Power and responsibility cannot bring peace
- The cause of this unhappiness
- A dictator’s troubles, doubt and his desire for controlling everything
- The way to avoid that trouble
- The guidance of our conscience
- Responsibility and uneasiness go together
There are some who take this proverb too literally. They say that crowned kings lead an uneasy life because they are surrounded by constant dangers. They speak of Ramchandra and Alexander, of Napoleon and Kaiser Wilheim, and so on. But this is a wrong interpretation of the proverb. It really means that those who have power and responsibility lead an uneasy life. All the wealth and comfort enjoyed by a man having power and responsibility cannot bring peace to him.
Golden in show, is but a wealth of thorns.
Brings dangers, troubles, cares and
And another poet said;
“The royal crown cures not the king’s headache.”
It is not difficult to understand why it is so. Power and responsibility are disturbers of mental peace, but they do so all the more when he who has them stands alone, – when there is none to share his troubles. The dictator — whether he sits on the throne or lords it over in his home can never know peace.
This is mainly because he takes too much on himself. He monopolises all power, and tries to look after everything. But a man’s capacity on matter how big he is is limited. If he takes everything upon himself, he will have to divide his mind and energies everywhere. That is enough to make anyone uneasy. Not only so, he becomes suspicious and doubtful of everyone, for he believes that he alone is capable and efficient and sincere: all others are bunglers or shirkers. This megalomania is the penalty of dictatorship. If he is conscientious, his troubles increase. He works hard to do his duties, but he is always dissatisfied because he thinks he has not done enough. To feel that he is personally accountable that all that is done is always a most uncomfortable sensation.
Then are we to shun responsibility? Should we give up all powers and retire within our own little cell, guarded and secured by fixed routine going round the same circle like the oilman’s bullock? But we must try to take things easily even our responsibilities. That it can be done is the experience of many. In the first place we must learn to share power and responsibilities. What is difficult to bear all the oneself becomes comparatively easy when there are others to share the burden with help and advice. The dictatorial attitude is always fatal to mental peace.
Secondly, it is good to work under a taskmaster to whom one feels accountable. Even when one has no human task matter, one falls back upon the idea of God: “All men,” said Carlyle, If they work not as in the great taskmaster’s eye, will work wrong, and work unhappily for themselves and for you.” But far better it is to work under the eye of one’s own conscience.
Nor now we anything so fair
As the smile upon thy face
Conscience tells us what to do and what not to do, and he who follows the dictates of conscience has no burden on his mind. Thirdly, some amount of humility helps to relieve the mental uneasiness of one ‘who wears a crown’, who exercises power and responsibility. A man who thinks less of what other owes to him than of that he owes to others is spread much uneasiness of mind.
Yet, when all is said and done, it remains true that the man in power must have some anxious moments that he cannot avoid. He cannot afford to take life lightly. The selfish man should perhaps be the least unhappy. But that is not true because everyone avoids him; he has none to come forward to share his troubles. If power involves isolation, uneasiness becomes unavoidable.
So Shakespeare’s words, Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, are true in more than the literal sense. It is certainly not necessary to avoid power and responsibility, but we should accept him as a kind of sacred trust and fulfill the obligation they lay on us in a spirit of humility and selflessness.