On abdication

When the king departs he has only one last wish: that the kingdom should come to the hand of his well-loved son who will care for its wants as he has done, heal its wounds when it bleeds, and see to its continuation . . . But can the king voluntarily abdicate in the face of uncertainty?

If the answer is ‘yes’ it may mean the kingdom has such a son, or that the king, grown wise with years, knows that all life is uncertainty and only by trusting to the winds of change can destructive conflict be bypassed.

If the answer is ‘no’ it may mean the kingdom has no such son, or that the king, grown wise with years, is unwilling to entrust so fragile a thing as a kingdom to the hands of one less experienced, and so bypass destructive conflict until greater maturity is gained.

Again . . . if the answer is ‘yes’ it may mean the kingdom has no such so, or that the king, grown senile with age, is unable to make up his mind, or a coward, and faced with such a conflict would rather relinquish his hold than stay and fight for the continuation of his people.

If the answer is ‘no’ it may mean that the kingdom has such a son, but to the king nothing less than the certainty of protection is sufficient to make him relinquish his hold and depart content.

Or . . . there is another way of looking at it.

Suppose the son is wise and the king a fool. Yet the king is still the king and the son the son. Could the king admit that the kingdom might be better loved by the son than the king as been capable of loving it? Would he know the difference, if he were a fool? Or even suppose that love is not in issue, but that the son more capable of governing, and so seeing to the content of the people . . .

Here, indeed, is a central issue of life, and only one thing is certain. The king will die, later or soon, and so will the son, and the kingdom perish. Is the conflict necessary?

If the answer is ‘yes’ . . . why?

If the answer is ‘no’ . . . what are we doing wrong?

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