The King was Marrying Elephants

While discussing the economic crisis at lunch the other day, my Argentinean colleague informed me that, “el rey estaba cazando elefantes en Africa.”  Hearing the z as an s, I heard, casando (marrying) instead of cazando (hunting) and translated even that poorly into, “the king was marrying elephants in Africa.”

I began to wonder if this meant that the king was conducting marriage ceremonies between elephants or was making a point by in fact marrying an elephant.  This distraction meant that I only tuned back in at the end of the conversation, and by then my boss was drawing a comparison between the king and the Spanish equivalent of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Image from The Telegraph

Both political figures had made headlines recently.  The king had hurt his hip in Africa, causing the paparazzi to highlight this particular hunting trip (apparently, the king hunts often).  Many citizens were frustrated with the king for taking such an extravagant trip during the economic crisis.  Therefore, the king apologized, and the headlines ended.

Image from The Olive Press

On the other hand, the Chief Justice continues to make headlines this week as the first in history to resign from his position.  There were a number of his private expenditures on the government’s bill.  By Spanish law, this is not technically illegal; the Chief Justice has the freedom to spend without strict accountability.  However, rather than apologizing and committing to returning the money, the Chief Justice clung to the word of the law and lashed out at his prosecutors.  His entitled attitude backfired, and the general public now celebrates his resignation, while the relevent law is under review.

Government leaders often seem to learn this lesson the hard way, and I wonder at what point those in power forget that leadership is a service rather than an entitlement. When does a sense of entitlement manifest as anything other than petulant? It’s ironic that the inherently entitled king was the one to ultimately show some humility, and many democratically elected officials could likely learn some graces from El Rey Juan Carlos.

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