Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling are making strenuous efforts on our behalf. Yes, on behalf of Jersey folk as well as UK folk, as well as (a slip of the tongue for the Prime Minister) to save the world.
The above sentence in bold sets out what would, for either of them, be an ideal situation: dominion in their hands. But, as we often say, “life ain’t like that”.
And life isn’t like that in every area that we can think about: an employer does not have dominion over his employees; a husband over his wife (or vice versa); a parent over a child. Even a dictator like Robert Mugabe cannot dictate everlastingly – a truth on which many are today relying.
The pursuit of democracy by Western nations is, in fact, the pursuit of a system of government that will give “dominion” but will avoid at all costs any one person having it. In Jersey the Clothier Report recommended many governmental changes in a composite proposal that, in order to achieve appropriate “checks and balances” (to counter dominion), were recommended for implementation as a package and not piecemeal.
What about the “glory” bit in bold above? And the “kingdom”? And being “served” by “all peoples, nations and languages”? No way.
There’s no way in which that will ever happen (we hope). Everyone knows that it mustn’t happen. Otherwise we’ll have a Hitler or a Stalin in charge of the world. And yet.....
The sentence that immediately precedes the one in bold above goes like this: I [that is, Daniel, writing around 550 BC from Babylon, 30 miles from present-day Baghdad] saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion....
So about 2,600 years ago (in the preserved archives of the Jews) this key civil servant – a Jew in exile serving the Babylonian Emperor at the highest level – saw in the distant future “one like a son of man” being given global dominion and glory and a kingdom. And this was so that “all” on earth should “serve” that man.
Under what circumstances would we allow anyone this level of authority?
It would have to be a man of exceptional ability, absolute integrity, with no self-interest and no desire for money for himself and no deceit.... It would have to be a man who would actually endure any amount of pain on my behalf and even prove that by being prepared to die – yes, lose his life - for me.
It would have to be a man who was going to serve me in every way – yes serve me. Then this person can be allowed to have total dominion and I will let him rule – even, in 2009, to require the banks to lend (if he saw fit).
But hold it a minute. Serve me? Oops – that requirement would actually give me dominion over him.........
The trouble is that I am frightened that I would not use my dominion over this servant in the same way as he would use his dominion over me. My self-interest, for starters, would never want to endure pain for others, never die for others. I am the problem – I would need to change – to deny self.
Daniel must have been wrong. There will never be such a man to whom such dominion can be given – because those whom he would serve would be unworthy of such a leader and might well kill him – and he would willingly go – so as to serve them. What would be the point of that?