“Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make them mad”, is this a classical quotation or a phenomenon before us now?
Posted on November 20th, 2020

By Raj Gonsalkorale

In respect to the considerable research done on the quotation noted above, Roger Pearse, in his blog (https://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2015/10/31/is-those-whom-the-gods-wish-to-destroy-they-first-make-mad-a-classical-quotation/comment-page-1/), says I learn that in fact it is a note on Sophocles Antigone, l.620, by a scholiast.  The idea itself is present in Homer, Odyssey, IX, 492-3. In the tragedy Antigone, of Sophocles, in verses 620-623, it said something similar:

For cunningly of old was the celebrated saying revealed: evil sometimes seems good to a man whose mind a god leads to destruction.

The ancient scholiast on these verses says:

When a god plans harm against a man, he first damages the mind of the man he is plotting against.

More precisely, and in a contemporary sense, are we witnessing this phenomenon now in the citadel (supposedly) of democracy? Are we witnessing it in the very country that preaches, interferes, cajoles, bribes, creates unrest and security issues in other countries all in the name of democracy? Are we witnessing it in the country which exports destabilisation, mayhem and horror all in the name of democracy? The Middle East today is one such instance. There is hardly any democracy in the countries that were interfered with. Prior to these destructive adventures, a country that suffered in the hands of this exporter, Vietnam, has since prospered not on account of democracy, but what they term market Socialism in a one party Communist State.

Donald Trump has taken the USA down an abyss of despair and duplicity. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will have a tough time resurrecting some trust and confidence that their own people, and others in the rest of the world, had with the USA. The longer Trump lingers, the deeper is the fall to this abyss and the more difficult it will be to get out of it.

Unfortunately, it is not just some sycophants that Trump has taken with him, but some 70 Million voters and probably millions of deaf, dumb and blind supporters in other parts of the world.

It is unfathomable why 70 million people voted for this individual who appears to be of unsound mind. They have made a mockery of what is just, what is right, what is moral and what is decent. Some amongst this lot have cut their noses to spite their faces, some have voted from a Cuckoo land, some have voted as they only know, and that is to put a cross against a Republican candidate even if that candidate is a broom stick. This 70 million had disgraced all that has been good about the USA. They have not made an informed decision, they have taken recklessness to a new height.

By voting for Trump, they have voted to lie, they have voted to degrade women, they have voted to widen the racial divide in the country and they have voted to widen the inequality in the country. It is mind boggling that some Republicans who do not have any health cover and who are bordering on poverty and who are down trodden even as whites, have voted to fall deeper into poverty and to die early without proper health care.

Many traditional Republicans should have opted to choose another candidate to be their Presidential nominee and spared the country from this embarrassment or could have decided to boycott the election if they found it not within them to vote otherwise. Instead, they have become complicit to this embarrassment not just to the USA but to the rest of the world.

In the age of information technology, the world has become smaller and closer to each other whether one likes it or not, and whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. Various social media platforms link people with each other before one could blink an eye and millions are inter connected. There is computer hacking, listening in, cyber spying and all the evils of this information technology bringing out the worst in human beings.

Internationalisation today is inevitable and the world has to find ways and means of capitalising on the positives and taking collective action against the negatives. Countries cannot crawl into the cocoons and pretend they can live happy ever after by doing so.

Trump has led the way for cocooning the USA from the rest of the world and fooling 70 million people that they can metamorphose into freely fluttering Butterflies. Most if not all international cooperation agreements have soured under Trump. Rather than improving them and bringing better benefits for them, Trump has taken the view that small is beautiful. Judging by the tax concessions and other benefits to the rich in the USA, his policies have been beautiful for a small coterie of supporters.

Will Trump handover the Presidency to Joe Biden on the 20th of January 2021? He may not have a choice but to do so. Where he has a choice is to usher an orderly transition and give a message to his supporters to avail themselves with a future opportunity to vote whichever way they choose and vote in a Republican President if that is there choice.

The rest of the world has no choice as to who sits in the White House. However, even if that person sneezes or coughs, the effect reverberates throughout the world. Stock markets can go up and down and oil prices could fluctuate wildly. In this context, it does matter to the rest of the world who sits in the White House. Due to the inability of the rest of the world to decide on this, they are probably hoping and even supporting alternate world leaders and emerging powerful economies to cushion the blows they get when the incumbent of the White House behaves irresponsibly and irrationally. Many in the world today who are so interconnected would want a Vladimir Putin or a Xi Jinping or an Angela Merkel or a Narendra Mody to help keep the world more stable even if they are not supporters of such leaders or their modes of governance. The most powerful person in the democratic world behaving like a gunman gone berserk in the Wild West does not assure the safety and the stability that the world needs.

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