December 07, 2005

Faulty Plumbing

It has been almost two weeks since I had opinions lacking enough relevance to post on this site. This was the direct result of having too many relevant opinions and contributions towards the launch of the system my team at work had been working on for the last year; almost every night was a late night at the office, with a brief and unplanned trip to Toronto thrown in the middle to further exhaust me. Alhamdolillah, things have relaxed since then, such that I even see the light of day after leaving work.

During this time, a historic motion was passed in the Canadian Parliament, dissolving the existing minority government and forcing another election this coming January. The effective fall of the government was big news, even earning the Top Headline honour on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and a mention on the Colbert Report; you know a Canadian news story is big when Americans acknowledge it. The election is in late January; the politicians are in campaign mode now.

I don't know who I'm going to vote for, if I vote at all. I won't dwell on specific issues at this time. My qualm right now is not with a specific party or issue, but with the inadequacies of the system altogether.

In almost every field of effort, the best in the field are the ones that move on from one level to the next. In academics, the best students are the ones who advance to the highest levels of education. In sports, the best players reach the professional leagues and represent their countries internationally. In business, the most effective entrepreneurs rise to the top of their profession and end up earning the most money. This is obvious and hardly worth a paragraphs worth of irrelevance.

However, politicians do not follow that trend somehow. Are the leaders of our political parties the best we have? I would hope not! There are very few who trust them, and just listening to them is often painful. Even worse is the political landscape in United States. I'm less bothered by the fact that Bush won their last election than the fact that the only two candidates for the president of the United States were both idiots. Surely, there must have been better people for that job? When politicians have such a huge responsibility to their constituents and the world in general, why are we leaving that responsibility to the gunk in our talent pool?

I already know the answer to these questions, but it still bothers me. It takes a lot of money to start a political party, to promote it, and to bring on the people who share your vision. I'm sure most of us can name at least a few people we know personally who would be very effective political leaders, but the financial barrier is overwhelming. As such, many talented people who could have otherwise been great leaders end up relegated to posting irrelevant opinions on a blog somewhere.

At the same time, there is much to be said about the effectiveness of grassroots, individual efforts. Maulana Ilyas rahmutallahi'alayh did not rely on political power to launch the most significant Islamic revival effort in the world. Gandhi did not need the support of powerful businessmen to fight back British rule. Tim Berners-Lee did not wait for wealthy venture capitalists for his vision of the World Wide Web to come forth. And community-driven open-source software like Firefox continue to chip away at commercial market dominance.

That talent pool is still rich in resources, but leaks with disunity. Unless we can channel those talents in the right places, the world will still be run by a bunch of drips.