Putin, Xi and Thee

Putin has a disease that caused him to make a bad decision. There’s been speculation that Putin is sick. The speculation is that he has Parkinson’s disease. Historians compare Putin to Hitler. There is a theory of WWII that Hitler took a gamble on invading the Soviet Union because he felt the early indications of Parkinson’s and he felt his mortality. Like Putin he wanted to cement his legacy before he died.

Putin has a disease that caused him to make a bad decision. Hitler had the same disease. Xi of China has is too. You and I are in danger of contracting the same disease though likely a milder variant.

The disease that Putin has is ‘Dictator’s disease’. The more evil the dictator the worse the disease. Dictators love power. The more evil the dictator the more they love power. It is part of the definition. Having centralized power they are always in danger of being killed and having another person take all that power that they so carefully gathered to themselves. To prevent that from happening they surround themselves with people who are loyal and weak. To make sure people are loyal only people who agree with everything that the dictator says are allowed to be around them. Dictators also make sure all the people who work for them are less intelligent than them. That is what happened to Putin. No one around him would tell him the truth that his army was not as effective as he thought it was or that the Ukrainian people did not want to be reconquered and made a part of his revived Russian empire. No one questioned his evaluation of the resolve of NATO and non-NATO countries to defend freedom.

Fortunately none of use are dictators so we can’t get dictators disease. Or can we. I work with a very unpleasant person. She has very extreme opinions of our workplace and the people she works with and for. I don’t tell her why she’s wrong because I just don’t want the blowback. It’s not worth it. She reminds me of a bully I grew up around. This guy also had angry and mean opinions. Few people ever told him he was wrong because they didn’t want to face his anger. I overheard an older man, who was also the bully’s boss, say ‘you call all the other drivers clowns. You’re the biggest clown on the road’. Not many could get away with saying that. Both my co-worker and the bully from my younger days had a variant of dictators disease. They used the power of their angry personality to keep from hearing things that they didn’t want to hear.

We are all in danger of getting dictator’s disease. We don’t have the absolute power that dictators have. We still have power and we use it. We all tend to only watch media and read opinion pieces by people we already agree with. We choose our friends based on whether or not they agree with us. Just like evil dictators we surround ourselves with people who are weaker and less intelligent than ourselves so we can feel superior. The outcome is the same. We will make bad decisions.

Marcus Aurelius was emperor of the Roman Empire. He said “If anyone can refute me—show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective—I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone.” He made a lot of good decisions. History considers him the last good Emperor of Rome.

When I owned a restaurant they taught us that the complaining customer is your friend. Many people see the same faults but never bother to complain they just don’t come back.

If you want to have life and have it to the full make a promise to yourself that you will be like Marcus Aurelius. Welcome contrary opinions. Don’t consider people who disagree with you an enemy. You will learn so much. You will have the ability to make better decisions.

Coda: Marcus Aurelius made a lot of good decisions. He made one very bad one. It was one that people warned him about. He just couldn’t not do it. He was warned that his son Commodus was not a good person and should not be made Emperor. For all his knowledge Emperor Aurelius could not put the Empire ahead of his own basic human instinct to favor his own family. Knowledge alone is not enough. It takes a depth of character and a deep control of ones animal emotions to act in ways that produce the best outcomes for the greatest number of people.


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