There are some who think that crowned kings lead an uneasy life because they are surrounded by constant dangers. They speak of Ramchandra and Yudshisthira, of Napoleon and so on. But this is a wrong interpretation of the proverb. It really means that those who have power and responsibility have generally lead an uneasy life. All the wealth and comfort enjoyed by a man having power and responsibility, cannot bring peace to him.
Power and responsibility are disturbers of mental peace, but they do so all the more when he who has them stands alone, — when there is none to share his troubles.
The dictator — whether he sits on the throne or lords it over in his home can never know peace. This is mainly because he takes too much on himself. He monopolises all power and tries to look after everything. But a man’s capacity, no matter how big he is limited. Not only so, he becomes suspicious and doubtful like Stalin in his last days or Saddam of Iraq, of everyone; for they believed that they alone were capable and efficient; all others are bunglers or shirkers.
This megalomania is the penalty of dictatorship. If he is conscientious, his troubles increase.He forgets that division of work is the law of nature.
Then are we to shun responsibility? Should we give up all powers and retire within our own little cell, going round the same circle like the oilman’s bullock? We must try to take things easily, even our responsibilities.
That it can be done is the experience of many. The dictatorial attitude is always fatal to mental peace. Secondly, it is good to work under the taskmaster to whom one feels accountable. Even when one has no human taskmaster, one falls back upon the idea of God.But far better it is to work under the eye of one’s own conscience. Conscience tells us what to do and what not to do; and he who follows the dictates of conscience has no burden on his mind. Thirdly, some amount of humility helps to relieve the mental uneasiness of one ‘who wears the crown’, who exercises power and holds responsibility.
A man, who thinks less of what others owe to him than of what he owes to others, is spared much uneasiness racking the mind.
The selfish man should perhaps be the least happy.But that is not true because everyone avoids him; he has none to come forward to share his troubles. If power involves isolation, uneasiness becomes unavoidable. Such a man will be left high and dry. So Shakespeare’s words, in Henry IV “Uneasy lies the head that wears crown”, are true in more than the literal sense. It is certainly not necessary to avoid power, responsibility, and even wealth. But we should accept them as a kind of sacred trust and fulfill the obligations they lay on us in a spirit of humility and selflessness.