A Walt Disney animation film “How to ride a horse” had echoed the age-old confusion. “The right side to mount a horse is the left side. So what is left is right and what is right is wrong.” It is a different matter that my riding instructor insisted that I dismount on the left side, which is the right thing to do but doing the right thing is invariably the beginning of wrong things. The instructor then commanded me to pass under the belly of the horse, yes, through that apparently dangerous space betwen the pair of forelegs and the pair of hindlegs. That ordeal enlightened me about the three golden rules of horse kicks. First, a horse does not kick with forelegs. It may raise the front hoofs sky-high and threaten to bring these down on the involuntarily dismounted rider lying prostrate on the ground. But horses are more intelligent than forever belligerent humans and never execute that threat, always landing their hooves inches away from the trembling human body. The old adage is “If wishes were horses, fools shall ride.” Equine experience shows that asses do frequently ride them. The second rule is that it does not kick with hindlegs towards the front. So, as I passed under the belly of the horse, I was in no danger from any of the four steel-shod hooves. The third rule is the most important and should be called the First Rule; a horse can and will kick, backwards with the hindlegs, any rider asinine enough to invade its sacred rear.

The ordeal was not over yet as the full command of the instructor was, “Dismount, pass under the belly, mount from the right side.” Why would that dictator force me to mount from the right side, which is the wrong side, was never made clear. All dictators are loathe to give any clarification regarding their other-worldly commands, howsoever obscure, abstruse, recondite, arcane, baffling or recherché these may be. Hitler, in a speech delivered on January 30, 1941 said, “Nationalist Revolution has defeated democracy, within democracy, by democracy.” Xi Jinping’s White Paper “China: Democracy That Works” says. “Whole-process people’s democracy integrates process-oriented democracy with results-oriented democracy, procedural democracy with substantive democracy, direct democracy with indirect democracy, and people’s democracy with the will of the state.” Mussolini, the original Fascist whom Hitler saw as his guru had this to say about democracy, “Democracy is a kingless regime infested by many kings who are sometimes more tyrannical and destructive than one, even if he be a tyrant.” The joint statement of the two stalwart definers of democracy, Putin and Xi, issued on February 4, 2022, issued on the soil of democratic China said, “There is no one-size-fits-all template to guide countries in establishing democracy. … It is only up to the people of the country to decided whether their state is a democratic one.” Apparently, democracy’s lexicography is the exclusive preserve of the dictators and the democratic world looks up to them to keep providing new definitions. In the commands of the riding instructor to the trainee, the horse, representing the people whom the powerful ride at the command of the Big Brother, has no role except when it gets an opportunity at the rear. USSR got that kick and Putin, Xi , Kim and Iran’s Mullahs will get theirs in their own time.

The confusion between right and left and right and wrong extends far beyond horses and democracies. In the opinion piece “How the Right Became the Left and the Left Became the Right” in the New York Times of November 2, 2022, Ross Douthat shows how the Left and the Right in the US have been trading causes. This barter of issues for political slugfest between the two parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, has taken so much public space that the currency and the related issue of economics like inflation and national debt have taken a back seat. As of today, the agenda of the Democrats includes forcing people to have vaccines, to work and learn from home, to defund the police, to free criminals without bail, to ban petrol and diesel vehicles and to provide justification for abortion up to the time of birtth, sqatting on pavements, looting of stores and arson, apparently all inseparable parts of democracy. The agenda of the Republicans includes objections to gender transition of minors and Hunter Biden receiving money from China, promoting the Republic’s role in preventing abortions, promoting fossil fuels and questioning election integrity. All these are bright, democratic ideas and the apparent contradictions and confusions are because of the Devil that has the nasty habit of inhabiting the details. To make the jigsaw puzzle of the Left and the Right more interesting, there are mutants of both sides, Far-left, Far-right, Left of centre, right of centre, Left-leaning Right, Right-leaning Left and the Centrist. Biden’s position is that he finds a position for himself everyday, after watching the wind-wane and the political weather report, thereby receiving rotten eggs from all segments. Biden does not have to ride a horse as he has his Airforce One and thank God for that. Imagine trying to mount a horse from a far-left or far-right position!

Horses are not native to the US and were introduced there by the pioneers. As conscientious animal and voter lovers, the original settlers ensured that the naive Americans do not commit any faux pas by parking themselves on the wrong anatomy of the horse while riding and coined the graphic term “horseback riding”. The leaders too ride on the back of the voters even as the latter, as the proverbial horses, watch the President of the day give riding instructions to the Senators and the House Representatives of his party. The riders and the instructor get paid heavy sums and are provided security to provide protection against being kicked by the voters and all of this is paid for by the voters for the privilege of being taken for a ride.

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