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Do we like the stick?

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By: Ali Al-Asbaly*

“We people like the stick”, a strange phrase and old concept,

Ali Al-Asbaly
Ali Al-Asbaly

reappeared after we failed in our first-year democracy.

Such phrase prevailed, especially in Cyrenaica, the eastern province of Libya. The stick is not just the piece of wood that farmed use to lead the herd or the old use to walk, but it is the stave that used to beat people, about the military regime.

“We people want the stick.” Such phrase you likely to hear almost at every inch, in bread and banks queues, on social vying sites, even via the radio and local TV stations. Not just from civilians, but personally heard it from Sheiks, media, academics, and even House of Representatives (HoR) members.

Since I heard that phrase, until the time of writing this article, I hadn’t found one reasonable justification that makes one satisfy such kind of humiliation and abjectness. A human could say “we people like the stick” while animals will shout out refusing the stick.

Curiosity led me to ask the adherents of this concept and explore inside their minds. I might find an adequate answer, or might get to that stick, the magic wand as the prophet Moussa’s, so we could split that sea to save what is left of this ship called Libya, or at least lead those flocks of sheep, or at least, if we couldn’t lean on it.

Answers were disappointing; I couldn’t imagine it will be that trifle. For instance, one Sheik, unfortunately, said loudly that “the stick for those who disobey,” as if he sees us as disobeyers the same way as Italians had said about Omar Al-Mokhtar companions.

Another media figure said that freedom is not suitable for us; I don’t know who gave him the right to speak on behalf of us. As for intellectuals, one of them said that “all civilians in decision-making positions are traitors and thieves.”

One academic told me that “the stick is the best tool to guide the blinded.” Beautiful looked words, but the blinded use the stick to see through not to get beaten with. Some HoR members said that “we experienced democracy for six years, held elections that brought the punch of thieves, who sold and destroyed the country, so let us see what the stick can do.”

Try it for yourself; the pile is the best use of the stick for that kind of people. One activist told me that “the military ruling is sweet.” Another told me that “we stole and ate and nothing but the stick will work.”

The carrot and stick, or rewarding and punishment, is a European metaphor, as Europeans used to tame monkeys, as one carries a carrot in one hand, put it in front of the monkey and holds the stick with the other, the monkey walks if obeyed the carrot and beat if not. Leave out the carrot and let the monkey talk and says I want the carrot, only then the eastern Libya expression “we people like the stick” would become true.

Unfortunately, some systemically worked to entrench such principle in people’s mind, exploiting chaos, crime, and terrorism caused by security void, persuaded people that security is linked to tyranny, oppression, outlawed detention, and prisons, focused on models of some countries ignoring others who enjoy security, security prosperity within democratic system that unleashes freedoms.

So, who is more worth of the stick, the miserable people fighting for their living, or those who destroyed the country from officials, semi-intellectuals, media, and sheiks?

At the end, who sacrifices his dignity for security doesn’t deserve any, with an apology to Franklin for distorting his phrase.

*A Libyan Writer

Translated By LIBYAPROSPECT: Source