Once upon a time just about now there was a Peaceable Kingdom that had a Sovereign but was really ruled by a young man who had been given power by The People using a quaint lottery system. Simultaneously, by courtesy of The Peoples’ imagination and the puffery of the press, he had been transformed into a dashing young Prince.
The People had also, by using the same lottery system, surrounded the Prince with many Courtiers. To some of these he chose to give quaint titles and fiefdoms of responsibility such as taking care of The Peoples’ health, and agriculture, old age, safety, environment, culture, justice, and so on. These chosen few were the Inner Court and, truth be told, many were very fine and intelligent people although they were like the nobility of old who held power by proxy and consequently were very loyal to the Prince who, they told themselves, was equally loyal to The People.
It so happened that the peculiar culture of the Kingdom’s rules required one of these Inner Courtiers to wear two hats. Wearing Hat No.1 she represented Justice and, when the Prince and the others in the Inner Court agreed that a New Crime Law should be created, she as Justice Courtier would see that the law was written correctly, presented correctly to the Outer Court and, hopefully, approved.
But when wearing Hat No.2 this same noble represented Existing Law that had already been proclaimed and she was sworn to protect Existing Law from, if necessary, even the Prince himself.
Now it had also happened that a Big Business had been operating nearby long before the young Prince had achieved his throne and this business had already been accused of breaking the Existing Crime Laws and was about to face trial. The Prince and most of his Inner Court worried that if the Big Business should be punished like a human being it would be very harmful to the human beings who actually relied on the Big Business. To that end they devised a New Crime Law that said if convicted a Big Business could be punished but not injured; chastised but not impeded.
The noble Courtier with the Two Hats found that while wearing Hat No. 1 (Justice) she really did not like this New Law but as a member of the team of the Inner Court it was her duty to fashion it and, although not fully in agreement, she was willing to present it in the open as a New Law that might or might not be approved by the Outer Court. However the Prince and the remainder of the Inner Court team knew the New Law might be seen as devious and wanted it to go through the system quietly. They insisted on burying it as a paragraph in a very Big New Law that had nothing to do with Justice. This upset the Courtier wearing her Justice hat – but a team is a team. She was outvoted and the New Crime Law weaseled its way through the system, if not in disguise at least in camouflage.
There was a big problem, however, in that under the Existing Law the local Big Business had already been charged with the criminal offence and the Prince and his Inner Court now wanted the special New Law to be applied. But the Courtier wearing her Hat No.2 studied it carefully and decided that applying it to the Big Business at this stage in the proceedings would be bending the Existing Law under which the criminal charge had been laid. It would also be seen as a special favour to the Prince and to his neighbour the Big Business.
She refused to let them apply the New Law to this case.
Now many of the Inner Court nobles who surrounded the Prince had become a rah rah bunch of team enthusiasts. They had been given a great deal of freedom by the young Prince who had been spending much of his brief reign travelling in foreign parts receiving accolades from his peers and mending previously damaged diplomatic fences. At home, members of his Inner Court sensed his unwillingness to impede the Big Business and, even speaking on behalf of the Prince, tried to persuade the Courtier wearing Hat No 2 to change her mind.
She would not. She did not.
The Prince, badly advised, took away both her hats, moved her elsewhere in the Inner Court, and said publicly that everything with the team was well – when it was not. She of the former Two Hats resigned from the Inner Court and was banished from the Outer Court.
But it so happened that the now demoted Courtier had previously acquired much stature elsewhere in the Peaceable Kingdom and was known for intelligence, knowledge, and integrity. She was even already a noble in another culture within the Peaceable Kingdom and consequently there was much angst, controversy, argument, finger-pointing, denials, and hastily invoked bureaucratic barriers erected to obfuscate and bury the whole fiasco of her demotion and banishment.
The young Prince and his team soon realized that even though they had been doing some remarkably fine things for the Peaceable Kingdom in fact The People had been disillusioned and were becoming less and less inclined to extend the Prince’s reign for a few more years. Something had to be done.
And something was done.
In a flash of brilliant political insight, deep self-inspection, and extraordinary leadership the young Prince stood boldly forth.
“Mea Culpa” he said, “My bad. My team and I in our enthusiasm, in our inexperience, in our confusion over concern for a few and our responsibility to all, in the arrogance that comes with power, we gave ourselves bad advice and we accepted bad advice. As captain of the team I accept full responsibility. To make amends and to move forward to face the existential challenges that lie ahead I hereby invite the former Courtier of the Two Hats to rejoin our Inner Court but this time wearing only Hat No.2 so that she may continue to be a mighty bulwark protecting the Rule of Law from – ” here he stumbled somewhat , “ — from – from —“ he almost choked, “if necessary even from us.”
At this point, mirabile dictu, yes, marvellous to say, the young Prince recovered and really broke out of the envelope. “I used the word existential,” he said, “ which refers to whether we all get our act together in time to lessen the killing impact of scientifically proven rapidly approaching Climate Chaos. So I suggest that you vote for the team you really want. Rally round their banner. If it’s the Green pennant, go for it. The Orange flag attracts many good ideas. Our Red pennant of course is the best. The Blue will shred and fade so ignore it. I and my Court may not remain the big honchos but by co-operating we will rescue the Peaceable Kingdom to the benefit of all.”
He also levelled with breathtaking honesty about a variety of other problems — the legal, the political and the diplomatic — in a manner that tore to shreds the traditional techniques of obfuscation, circumvention and general turdification.
So startling and refreshing was all this that there was universal rejoicing throughout the Peaceable Kingdom. Many broken promises, errors and omissions were forgiven. The chosen nobles embraced the reinstated one, agreed that as wearer of Hat No 2 it had been her duty to protect Existing Law even from the team. The People voted as their sparkling intelligence and deep political knowledge told them to do and the young Prince and his team, suitably chastised, retained the aura of power while now being forced to apply the wisdom of consensus.
It came to pass that a majority formed of co-operating teams reigned constructively ever after for the next four years.
A Fairy Tale For Our Times
Copyright © Munroe Scott