We can all empathise with deciding enough’s enough

Romantic - Saddam Hussein

CLIVE SMITH: Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn about Valentine’s Day

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I’ve loved the BBC’s Africa series, which has given everyone a unique perspective of the animal kingdom on that challenging continent.

It’s reminded me that the law of the wild is an unforgiving mistress. Kill, or be killed. Eat, or be eaten.

In nature – and it doesn’t matter in which species – the group leader gets his position after proving that he is top dog, the alpha male, stronger than the others.

Now this might be a stretch, but the way the animals sort out who’s boss got me thinking whether the Pope actually was right to resign his position after all.

Frail, with a pacemaker and 85 years on the clock, Pope Benedict XVI decided enough was enough.

I think this is something most of us can empathise with. After all, if we feel ill we can call in sick. If we become unfulfilled with our jobs, we can find new ones. And when we get to a certain age, we can hang up our payslips and begin our retirement.

But Pope Benedict has not had that choice. Elected by the church, but crucially chosen by God, no Pope has resigned for 600 years – and then did they only do so on political grounds.

Not for Pope Benedict the comfort of a sofa. Instead we all thought he was destined to rest his weary bones on the throne of St Paul until he answered a higher calling.

Some have made the point that the Pope doesn’t believe in God if he thinks he can resign something handed to him personally by the man upstairs, but I’m not sure I agree.

I believe that, like in Africa, all groups, communities, countries and religions should have as their leader someone who can truly lead, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.

It may sound a bit tribal, but it’s a theory that seems to have worked out pretty well for thousands of years.

And what of our country’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II? Should she relinquish the crown, seeing as she’s a year older than the Pope (and has done the job for a lot more years)?

Until she stops being able to stand in one place, in the rain, for longer than I can, she’s okay by me to carry on. And I don’t want to see a wildlife-like fight to the death to find out who’ll replace her either.