I know something about lifetime appointments. Nearly all my “bosses” have one.
Life tenure is necessary to insulate certain kinds of authority from external and political pressures. An island of objectivity.
But, pardon me for stating the obvious but a “lifetime” is a really long time. Through age and illness and general decomposition, we all become less capable in time. There’s no universal expiration date, of course. I’m only in my thirties and I can’t even remember the members of New Edition. Bobby, Johnny, . . . err . . . For some, an S&S Cafeteria cottage cheese & pear salad palate, however, develops not until their sixties or seventies. And, yet for others, they continue sharp and spry well into their nineties. But, at some point our faculties fail us. And, when they do, a lifetime appointment can become a quite less virtuous thing, especially for those who may be subject to this frozen but decliningly capable authority.
Self awareness is uncommon. Especially, when the nature of the position held disallows or strongly discourages any critique. Judges and Popes come to mind.
When Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement for health concerns, I privately called shenanigans. I felt certain there was an underlying scandal or political motive. Especially considering the longstanding allegations that Pope Benedict may have been party to covering up various sexual abuse prior to his papacy.
But, then I asked myself, “Why so cynical?” That’s the sort of dignity and self-examination I would like to end with. Instead of carrying on, where he can’t or allowing a kind of puppet regime to continue, he abdicates. It’s a rare thing. He’s the Pope. Of God. Until his last breath to be venerated. And, yet he recognized his own frailties and had more respect for the high calling of his authority maybe than any before him — to let it go.
The whole thing reminds me of this classic Jim Gaffigan bit where he imagines just a regular boy dreaming of one day being Pope, as though he were dreaming to be just some regular demagogue, say Joe DiMaggio.
Pantamiming to the roar of a feigned crowd, with the play-by-play announcer, “The Best. Pope. Evvvver!”
Maybe, in his resignation, Benedict was.
Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by Dave Santos.
Today’s blong here:Have to Fail