The Mad Hatter

Once upon a troubled time, a creature called Mad Hatter shouted to the walls of his ornate palace. “This is an outrage. Every last one of those mad dogs who think they can overthrow me will pay. I am the king and I rule!”

Hatter, mad as he was, failed to notice that one of his many many bodyguards stifled a laugh. Perhaps it was the sun radiating from the silver and gold walls that prevented Hatter from seeing bodyguards or anything else too clearly. Forty-two years of pillaging his kingdom had taken its toll on the grim face of Hatter and on his barren mind. His Lady Clairol black hair fell in disarray around his leathered face. He gripped his cup of Turkish coffee tighter and pushed it towards his mouth, forcing an angry swallow. He would punish everyone he thought. The lives and well being of his subjects mattered not to him. What really did matter was that Hatter held on to his power regardless of the consequences.

Outside the palace and in many areas of the kingdom, freedom fighters demonstrated peacefully for human rights, for better economic conditions, for a more democratic system of living. These freedom fighters had come from all walks of life. They were young and old, male and female, rich and poor, educated or not.They chanted slogans to oust Mad Hatter from his rule of tyranny. Hands of the brave held up such signs as “Go Away,” “Get out of here,” “Down with Mad Hatter and his cohorts,” or “Give us freedom.” Mad Hatter’s mercenaries pushed back the demonstrators with gunfire, with clubs, with tear gas, with helicopters, and even with fighter jets. Meanwhile in his tent pitched in the middle of his ornate palace, Mad Hatter fumed. He sunk his head on one of his fluffy pillows and planned how next to threaten his people on his state-owned TV. He plotted what brutal tactics he would employ to drown the cries of freedom and how to crush the call for Hatter’s downfall.

“I will spare no one,” he said to his pillows fluffed with Egyptian cotton and to his comforters filled with down. “I’ll fight for my throne until I kill them all. I am not like my cousin the pharaoh to give up power so easily.”

That evening Hatter braved a drizzling rain. He had his Hatter-mobile cart him to a remote and very safe area where in front of his state-owned cameras under the protection of his umbrella, growled a statement which went something like this, “You mad dogs who think you can oust me from power are wrong! You will find your freedom only in death. I will spare no one. Don’t watch any TV stations but my own and don’t listen to the lies of the world. And if worst comes to worst, I will die a martyr in defense of my crown.”

But Hatter lived in a world of his own creation. He had been so successful at suppressing the thoughts of his subjects that he had suppressed his own thinking and thus dwelt in a world bordering the surreal and illusions. While he had his billions of dollars to keep him company and shares in multi-million dollar businesses, he successfully managed to keep his country relatively impoverished and his people hungry. He showered favors on family members and those who hailed from the same tribe. He bribed those he thought were loyal to him and surrounded himself not only with the most lavish luxuries, but with the actions and lip service of the few he trusted.

Hatter sealed himself off from the peaceful demonstrations taking place on the streets of his country. He pretended not to notice the rivers of blood flowing on the sidewalks, hear the cries of the wounded now filling the wards of hospitals, or take note of the wails of the families of the brave who had died in the name of liberty. All Hatter could feel was resentment and fury. The next evening, when he noticed that the walls of his rule were crumbling all around him, Hatter decided to bring his TV station to his palace in order to film yet another declaration. Dressed in a brown robe and a makeshift crown, Hatter shook his fist at the camera and even at the cameraman. He spoke in a raspy voice, “Parents, control your youth. Make them move off the streets of my country. Tell them to get off the drugs they are taking and to not listen to propaganda to overthrow me. I remain steadfast. I refuse to give up my power. I am still in control and if I must die like my idol Hitler, then so be it.”

Hatter then began to wave the little green book he had written. It was his version of a “Mein Kampf.” Little did he know that on the streets of his city, not far from his palace, demonstrators ripped up pages of his green book and burned them. Little did he understand that once people taste freedom, they forget their fear of oppression. Adrenaline kicks in. This is how mountains and dictators are overcome.  So now Hatter waits. What he waits for he is still not certain. He sleeps propped up on his aging staff with one eye open. One never knows when one might be toppled from power. All Hatter’s billions in foreign bank accounts can not stop a people’s desire to be free.