Winners, Losers and Unity
14 February, 2013
You can learn a great deal about a culture by watching children play. There are places I have been where none of the games have any winners and losers, they are all just games for fun, other places emphacize the victors and the vanquished. Particularly among boys, winning and loosing gracefully is not the norm. The winner tends to act as if the win is an illustration and that justice has prevailed, that god or the order of the universe
had been made manifest and that everybody else would be wise to bow down before the victor.
The may looser goes through several stages. The first is denial. He didn't actually loose. When that doesn't work, it is to allege cheating by the other side; that the whole thing wasn't fair. When that doesn't work, the looser charges that the other side is bad and mean. And finally to go back to the beginning and simply ignore the the whole thing and say it doesn't matter. Often the looser will emphasize the luck aspects of the event and the winner will emphasize his own skill. Better if the looser would admit the skill of the winner and the winner would admit that luck played a part.
Somehow connected to this there seems to be such an allergy to admitting mistakes. I can think of very very few political leaders or officials in senior positions who have ever said. "What happened was wrong, I am responsible and I will do my best to be sure it never happens again; we will solve this problem." Of course the first step in this is understanding the problem. Has the National Movement understood why they lost the recent elections? This is a very important question that I am not sure they have thought very deeply about. The National Movement ignored large parts of the population for many years: people who had been put in jail with no trial, people who criticized any of their policies, even people who simply had different ideas than they did, whole parts of society, became voiceless and blamed.

At the same time the Georgian Dream seems to spend a great deal of time criticizing and blaming the National Movement. Maybe it is time to move on. There are a number of excellent initiatives they have started that go unreported because all the bandwidth is taken up by criticism of various individuals. Some of this is the fault of the media who love hearing anger and bitterness which can be dramatic, is an easy story to portray and takes much less research than actually understanding an issue. But the Georigan Dream representatives always seem to take the bait. And of course the National Movement representatives are happy to stay in the news so prominently. It is certainly more fun and easier than thinking about what went wrong and what actions that will dictate.

I worry about how the results of these elections have been understood by each side. What we need most of all right now is more national unity. Real national leadership is about bringing the nation together and we don't see much of that. Internal division has such a long sad history in Georgia.
Division seems to be so intimately connected with punishment. As everybody knows, punishment is not about the punished, it is about the punisher. The system that put most prisoners in jail without the practical opportunity to go to court, was above all to illustrate complete state power. The National Movement political party via its control of the state was sure for many years to express to everybody even in the smallest village who was boss. That seems to be changing now, unfortunately not to a system where there is no party boss but to a system where there is a new boss. I have heard few people on either side apologize, and in doing so being the nation together rather than keeping it apart.
There are advantages to spending less time talking about justice. Conversations about justice too often in this environment move to blame and blame justifies punishment and division. Justice is something that should come slowly and be taken care of by established channels. The leadership should be working on the problems that people care about. Looking forward, and leading Georgia in the right direction, rather than sitting in its old bath water splashing around.

There are the hard core of supporters on each side and they will stay that way. And there are plenty of people in the middle who see advantages and disadvantages of each side. So my advice for those who are looking for which side will be the best for Georgia, look for which spends their time on blame and which side speaks and acts in a way to unite. That above all is what we need and what we're not getting enough of right now.