Donkeys, Leaders and Fairy Tales

by the Rt Revd Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester


What a mess to be in!

The metropolitan elite, secular and religious, is totally out of touch with the mood of the wider population. Caught up in its own petty power plays, it blunders on, disconnected from the anger endemic in the rest of the nation.

Ordinary people feel, with good reason, that nothing ever gets done to benefit them. Nor does it help when those who do articulate a different future, one that breaks free from the shackles of subjugation to foreign powers, seem to have little to offer beyond a vague return to former glories.

Maybe what’s needed is a populist leader. Someone untainted by past compromises and connections. Someone who can latch onto their religious and cultural identity. A leader who puts things in simple and straightforward ways. A person with a natural, charismatic authority. Someone who will shake everything up.

Better than the current load of donkeys!

If there’s one clear, consistent message from every fairy story in history, it’s to be careful what you wish for.

It never turns out the way it was expected. The tale twists, the prize being grasped turns to dust or destruction. Things that were meant to get better end up vastly worse. The hoped for saviour turns out, after at most a couple of years, to be just another donkey, braying pompously in the breeze.

Except once, when the tale is turned on its head.

This time we start with the donkey. It won’t take long for the wildly acclaimed popular leader riding it to see his opinion poll rating to dive from hero to zero.

His moment of glory will be measured not in years or months, but in days. He’ll be dumped on the rubbish heap long before ever he reaches a position of power. Discarded for not playing to the prejudices of the mob, for being as critical of power and its abuses as some Old Testament prophet.

The end.

Except, not the end.

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2 Responses to Donkeys, Leaders and Fairy Tales

  1. David William Malcolm Swann says:

    David Swann notes: that is something I had not deeply thought about but there is a deeper truth that the ‘Metropolitans’ are beginning to live in a different mode than so many others. Here in New Zealand this is beginning to happen, once we were a predominantly agricultural based, and I am aware of constant change but there is this tendancy that the ‘metros’ are in a class of their own completely and utterly unaware of ‘others’. I am sure there will be ramifications in the future. Perhaps it was that we had an abundance of cows and sheep and now its donkeys.

Any thoughts?