Family Feuds–Political Style

You’ve probably heard, the 3 surviving children of Martin Luther King, Jr. are suing each other. Bernice and Martin Jr. are suing Dexter who lives in Malibu and who has apparently refused to give an accounting of money received from the sale of their father’s papers. Not long ago I read in the Financial Times about Anil and Mukesh Ambani suing each other. The reason was less clear, but they are both among India’s billionaires, giants of business, owners of Reliance Media and it looks also as future owners of Dreamworks in Hollywood. Their father is the one who made the fortune, and since his death, reports idicate they have been competing and fighting. I am sure that in each case each side believes how right they are, and possibly seeing suing their sibling as a last resort.
Anyone with siblings understands how easy it is to fight with one or another, to be put out, angry, disappointed, to have words, to shun the other, to even dis the one we believe offended us. It is harder to see how one gets to the point of a lawsuit. In both these instances the issues involved are larger than family squabbles, there are interests beyond the individuals. And perhaps that is what makes it all the sadder. Is there no underlying love to come to the rescue? Is here no sense of family togetherness that would inform a first step, an iota of forgiveness, the power to forget an offense?
Family feuds are as old as history, and certainly have biblical roots–Cain and Abel. Even the Baghavad Gita is the story of a family feud, the recounting of a war between two warring clans within the same family. It still does not make it something to be emulated. Maybe, some intermediary, legal or not, paid or not, will come forward and help these families heal their breech.
Short of that they may want to borrow a page from the Democratic party last week. Jesse Jackson although he long ago endorsed Obama, had to be egged on by his son, an Illinois Congressman and unabashed fan of the Illinois Senator. I can’t say that his overheard his rather rude comment about Obama last week when his mike was still on following a Fox News Network appearance, were a surprise. Neither was it a surprise that Jackson would automatically apologize, reaffirm his support for the nominee to be, and for the Obama campaign to glide over it and use it to advantage. What is noteworthy, if not really a surprise, was how the need for unity, in the name of the family represented by the Democratic Party trumped personal feelings. We don’t believe it, and yet we buy it. Their motives aren’t selfless–they do what it takes to win. Still unity is a value that can trump egos–and if it can trump political egos, it makes one wonder even more why it couldn’t trump family ones.