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Chapter 20: Those Third-Rate Politicians, Those Dwellers of the Gutter

Just the other night I was reading about a rabbi who wrote a letter to a friend, but a very strange letter. He wrote a small paragraph and then left almost the whole page, and signed underneath. That is not the way people write a letter. When you write a letter, you sign underneath it.this much gap. The man was also puzzled when he received the letter. He inquired of him, “What is the reason for leaving such a big gap between the letter and the signature?”

He said, “It says in the scriptures, ‘Keep yourself as far away from lies as possible.’”

But still, if you like there is no problem; there are many sannyasins in the same gutter in different countries. A certain cruelty, inhumanity, cunningness are the basic requirements for you to become a politician. So I am worried whether you have all these prerequisite conditions. Innocence is of no use; that will bring failure. Silence is of no use, truthfulness is of no use, to be sharply intelligent is no use. And remember one thing: politics gives you power, but it gives you power by making you a beggar. All politicians are beggars, whether they may be presidents or prime ministers.

Every five years, and they are standing on your door with their begging bowl. They are, in fact, servants of the people. At least they have to pretend after each five years. For five years they can believe they are masters, but they cannot befool anybody of intelligence.

And this reminds me that the people from whom you are going to beg for votes are ignorant, prejudiced, are not contemporaries. They belong to past centuries, many centuries back; they are superstitious. If you want to have their votes, you have to fall to their standard; they are not going to rise to your standard.

To be a politician is a tragedy. But still, if you want to make your life a tragedy I have no objection. The whole politics around the world misses anything significant for the future. It is too much concerned with trivia, small, ugly conflicts. It is not interested in reality to improve the destiny of humanity, to give new dreams to people, to bring more poetry into their lives. On the contrary, it destroys their dreams, it destroys their hopes; it destroys their trust in other human beings, because they have been continuously cheated by the politicians, exploited.

Oscar Wilde has said, “A map of the world that does not include utopia is not worth glancing at.” But no politician can remain successfully in politics with a utopian mind; he has to be practical, pragmatic. He has to forget fundamental things, that through wrong means you can never reach the right end. Only the right means justify the rightness of your ends. But no politician can manage to follow right means towards right ends. He may talk about right ends, right values, but all his means will be wrong, and through wrong means you never reach to right ends; they don’t connect.

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