News Latin America Freedom and order on the farm

Freedom and order on the farm

Hand holding a wooden mallet.boonchai wedmakawand (Getty Images)

The human being, when it began to be as we recognize ourselves today, understood that survival depended on establishing rules of coexistence that would make it possible to conserve a species that is not the fastest, nor the strongest, nor the most resistant to hot or cold, nor the one with the best jaws.

A weak biped, with more of a prey spirit than a hunter, had to trust in his head and in the way of chaining several brains to, through leadership, face problems and other physically better-endowed beings. And hungry.

As the opinion columns cannot pretend to compete with the history books, we will only say that civilization (so scarce in these lands) has taken us to such a stage that true authority is not inherited or received from heaven. It is won by hand, be it by election or recognition, but it is only accepted when it is exercised transparently, effectively and intelligently. Concepts that work very well in ink and on paper, but whose exercise is somewhat more complicated.

Should we honor the authority of officials who get rich off bribes? Is it necessary to obey soldiers with little training who exceed in the use of force and take to the streets devoid of a minimum care for the rights of others? Is it necessary to respect legislators who act with the priority of benefiting particular interests and agendas? Does it work to accept those who exercise weak leadership?

The spirit of survival tells us that we should not submit to those, or to that, that violates and threatens us. But the social contract that has taken us from barbarism to less barbarism requires us to abide by norms, rules and structures, under penalty of tearing out each other’s entrails again. That of “freedom and order” is not a common place of our shield. It is a basic but little practiced tenet of this nation: no order, no freedom.

Authority is achieved at the polls, but it becomes real when the rulers are just. The authority is achieved with an appointment, but it is consolidated with straight procedures and for the benefit of the people. Authority comes with uniforms, but it crystallizes when those who wear them act sensibly. “Respect so that they respect you”, is a phrase that we have all heard. Five words that are the cornerstone of community life, of societies that do not want to return to the caves.


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Those who hold legitimate authority and leadership must take care of something else: the language, a scourge of the dignity they display. In a 1946 essay, George Orwell noted how chaos is linked to the decline of language. “Political language,” he wrote, “is designed to make lies seem true…and to give mere wind an appearance of solidity.”

Take note those farmers who do not want, with their fallacious statements, to encourage a dangerous rebellion on the farm.


Rear. The First Line is obsessively defended while the first line of the Bogota metro is being torpedoed. Ironies.

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