Alex Putzer, Universität Hamburg, Germany

J. R. R. Tolkien called it the Gift of Men. Out of all creatures in his phantastic universe, men were the only mortal ones. That was the reason they got so much done. There was a time limit set upon them, a literal dead line in order to draw out procrastination. They were being productive in fear of being forgotten.

A death doesn’t necessarily have to be physical, a political one kills too. The question is: when is the right time for a political death? Does it hold true that you either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain?

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for instance, hasn’t chosen her political death just yet. She is running again, for the fourth time in a row. But: She won’t be done after a possible four more years, neither after eight. Politics will continue to exist because politics is part of life. Just like death.

This is no way to live.

The legally enforced death of a term limit might help. Even the dictators in Ancient Rome could reign for a limited amount of time only. Term limits cause perpetuity. Too many terms equal to a higher risk of corruption and the like. On the other hand, you might kill good and well-networked politicians by destroying continuity. There are several factors that favour term limits, others scrutinize them. Nonetheless, everything has got to end eventually.

There is no track and field discipline called ‘eternal run’. Does Merkel feel that she is the only one out of over 60 million eligible Germans who can get the job done? Is that the reason why she is about to run the extra mile? Does she feel responsible, selfish, or both? Only time will show if she is risking the Gambler’s ruin or successfully building a legacy.

A legacy was the reason why Tolkien gave death a positive connotation and called it a Gift to Men. If we lived forever we could potentially respond to the personal critique expressed by others. In an ending world we have the uncertainty of being judged without having the power to intervene on the comments of our posterity.

The nickname, the Turkish people gave to Mustafa Kemal, prime example of a legacist (not an actual word for a legacy builder, but it should be) and founder of the Republic of Turkey, was ‘Atatürk’, ‘father of the turks’. The way, the German people call Merkel is ‘Mutti’, ‘mother’.

What’s on your mind Angela? Can you give us Mehr Licht?

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