Recent events bring to mind a phenomenon we witness once in a while: a national leader dies and many citizens of that country - particularly the poor - grieve on an operatic scale. They mass onto the streets and weep openly and uncontrollably. They will not be consoled. It is a though the bottom had fallen out of their lives totally and completely.
To outsiders, these are moving scenes. No matter your views about the leader that has just died you cannot but be struck by the vastness and genuineness of the reaction of the masses of the people. The departed leader must surely have done something to earn such adoration. But you also wonder if the weeping masses believe the leader is irreplaceable; that what he contributed to their lives cannot be done by anybody else; that, above all, he was a fluke, an accident. Do they ask: who is going to look after us now? You even hear some of them say: We have lost our father.
These scenes of monumental grieving remind me of the famous scene in the Bertolt Brecht play 'The Life of Galileo'. Here is the key exchange: