You are currently viewing Advice for politicians

Advice for politicians

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. (Proverbs 12:19, NIV)

Have you noticed two different aspects of some (but not all!) politicians?

On the one hand, many are concerned for their legacy.  They want to make a lasting difference to society and nation.  They are eager to be well judged by the history books, and to be able to point to solid achievement.  Many in senior leadership use their retirement to write memoirs – not just because of the money to be made from publishing, but to try to establish their legacy.  And none of us should blame them for a desire to make lasting changes for the good – it is a reasonable ambition.

On the other hand, some politicians take pride in their political skill: their ability to outwit opponents by clever manoeuvres, or to get their way by painting a distorted picture.  Often this includes the deft use of the lie – either outright falsehoods or the subtleties of spin.  These are the intrigues of TV political dramas – but also of the reality of Westminster, Washington or Moscow.

The proverb quoted above tells us that in the long term, these two aspects of politics cannot mix.  For the legacy built on lies will ultimately be found out.  Truth has a way of outing, because of course it corresponds with reality.  Time unravels false claims, and of course policies built on false assumptions are unlikely to do real good.  On the other hand, the person who has the courage now to tell the truth, even if counter-cultural, even if costly, may one day be thanked for it.

So with another general election upon us, some advice for politicians: if you want a lasting legacy, dare to tell the truth!

And this proverb speaks not just to them, but to us all.

Alasdairs signature