Lapses of memory

The main opposition party’s habit of charging the government with amnesia or selective memory – in other words, accusing it of making juicy pre-election pledges that it can’t fulfill – is understandable; but the results of this approach are poor. To be sure, a government can easily return the fire: So New Democracy responds by slamming PASOK for displaying its own amnesia or selective memory. Hence the noisy exchange of barbs sees no winner, and spectators to the game – in other words, the people – have no one to award the laurels of consistency. Both sides are proving equally capable of avoiding any sign of consistency by their disregard of the collective memory. Politicians’ memories work along highly expedient lines, erasing that which should be preserved. It is a very old trick that has been practiced with such remarkable persistence that it would make even that master of futility, Sisyphus, hesitate to control the short memory span of politicians. Perhaps it would make more sense to demand that our politicians replace their defective memory of the past with a «memory of the future.» Those in power might be less haughty when making their pompous statements if they kept in mind that in three or seven years’ time they would be out of the scene. They might also act in a more humane and down-to-earth fashion. If they had the power to foresee their future, it would hopefully gird them to refashion their present. It would prompt them to find specific answers to specific questions – and to do so without scorn and derision but with genuine modesty and humility. They would be much less inclined to throw around their (admittedly ephemeral) power instead of coming up with answers. «What goes around comes around.» The saying does not come down to us from Heraclitus or Socrates, but that does not make it less wise.