No Glory Without Risk [Archives:1999/25/Viewpoint]

June 21 1999

Fear for one’s well-being transcends the danger of physical injury. It can take many forms – living under conditions of intimidation, loss of source of income (e.g. employment or business), loss of social status and honor, and many more. Yes, the danger is real and immediate, and every one of us can feel it. Yet, it goes without saying that it goes with the job, and that is the price one is being asked to pay. 
Part of being a public figure is having public scrutiny of one’s personal life, and you must expect the rulers in Third World countries to use various means to discredit opposition public figures, and even to violate them physically. That is why one cannot expect to serve as a public figure without being exposed to the risks that come with it. If we accept this premise, then the excuse of not doing anything out of fear of reprisal by the state apparatus is no longer valid. Actually, if more “leaders” in society do come out and do their work, the risk to each one of them will fall dramatically. 
In all fairness to the Yemeni system, conditions here are much more humane to the opposition than they are in other countries. This does not make our circumstances ideal. In reality, this by itself is a motivation for the politicians in power to do more towards creating a viable system. 
In political life, the difference lies between people who see politics as a vehicle for self enrichment and self-empowerment, and between politicians who really feel they have a message. The first group would lie low until they are assured they can collect without the risk. The second group would try to create the circumstances that would allow them to fulfill their mission. 
Yemen has both groups – but quite a few more of the first lot. Unless we make the distinction between the two or more types of politicians clear, politics would degenerate into an even more dirty profession. 
At the end of the day, there is no glory without risk.