I have been sitting in…

I have been sitting in my office trying not to cry.

No, this is not about my love life, or my job, or about writing, or about anything personal. I'm not sure why I'm so upset.

King Hussein of Jordan died a few days ago. I only had time to read the details today. I should perhaps have waited until I went home. I knew it would upset me; I didn't realize how much.

Jordan is a tiny little country, bounded by Israel, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. For the last 47 years, it has been ruled by King Hussein, who came to power as a teenager. He has been the longest ruling leader in the Middle East. He belonged to the Hashemite dynasty, which has ruled Jordan since 1921, making Jordan one of the world's few remaining constitutional monarchies.

I don't know much more; just that King Hussein has in the last decade made some difficult decisions in the name of peace, decisions which have not been entirely popular with his people. The press these days is full of moving stories about how committed he was to peace, and what a good king he was; I'm not quite politically naive enough to just buy all of this. He's just died, after all, and I'm sure there are all sorts of political motivations for the U.S. being very supportive of his reign and that of his successor. I certainly don't know enough to say whether Hussein was a good king throughout his rule, or even whether he was a good king at the end of it.

But there is still something that moves me tremendously about him, something that grieves that he is dead.

I think that despite the fact that I believe in democracy, and believe that it is in many ways the best way we have found for protecting the rights and lives of a country's citizens, there is something in me that responds to a king. Not a princess -- I was appalled at Diana's death, and disgusted with the media spectacle it so appropriately became. She seemed a good person at heart, who deserved better than what she got, but she was, in the end, simply a person. She never ruled; she never had to make those hard choices that a ruler must make.

It's growing up on King Arthur that did it, undoubtedly. And I know it's all terribly romanticized, and I'd surely be simply horrified by what rulers must do to hold such power. But there is something about the idea of a king or queen, whose entire focus is to care for their people, to sacrifice time and family and health and life if need be, to live entirely for them...

To be a good, true leader to your people -- to do your best to make the right decisions for them, not simply for yourself... that's a task that very few of us could manage, I think. And I realize a president need not be, and probably should not be, held to that same standard. They only hold power for a few years, and strictly limited power, and for good reasons. Yet I think it's not so much to ask that they try to live up to that kind of ideal.

Oh, I don't think we should impeach Clinton for this silly sex scandal. That's irrelevant. I just wish he'd show some ethical fortitude, that he would stand up for what he believed in, instead of weaseling his way out of every promise he's ever made. Maybe I want too much. Is it unreasonable to ask of a president that he have the integrity and nobility we desire in a king?

"People's trust is very dear, and one must be up to it, not by trying to do what pleases people everywhere and on every occasion, but by doing what satisfies one's conscience. All what we hope for is that a day will come, when we have all gone, when people will say that this man has tried, and his family tried. This is all there is to seek in this world."

- King Hussein

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