A thought experiment
Ecclesiastes 7: 8-10
8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning;
the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.
9 Do not be quick to anger,
for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
10 Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
Politicians are all shifty, duplicitous, and hypocritical... or so we keep on telling ourselves. There is a popular stereotype that most of our elected leaders are untrustworthy, arrogant, and in it for themselves. But what about the electorate? What if, just like our politicians, we can also be shifty, duplicitous, and hypocritical - paying lip service to one thing while demanding another?
This thought experiment is not to let our politicians off the hook, it is perhaps to put ourselves on the hook next to them. It is healthy for a society to be able to freely express distaste and disappointment in our leaders, to openly challenge and critique them. But do we accept our own complicity in the system? Perhaps sometimes we don’t get straight answers out of our politicians because we don’t want to hear them.
We don’t let our elected officials honestly confront us with the finely tuned balancing act of organising, and caring for, a complex society.We pressure them into thinking short term, providing a quick fix, launching a new scheme - that if it crashes and burns - we humiliate them for.We need to get better at letting go and allowing others to let things go with dignity.
If our politicians propose a bad idea, and then realise it’s a bad idea - we should let them let go of that idea, let them give it a holy ending, rather than forcing them into a corner.
Imagine a policy speech in an election cycle like this…
“We stand on a platform of Not Doing Things.
We are not going to dismiss and belittle leaders, and entire populations, of other countries.
We are not going to tell you that supplying an energy hungry country is simple or cheap.
We are not going to ask for consultations on things which are already done and dusted.
We are not going to deliver on everything we claim to in our manifesto, as well intentioned and well meant as it is.”
Would we vote for it?
Make us better, more imaginative, more compassionate, and more forgiving citizens.