8th May 2023 Hope for a politics characterised by listening, kindness and truthfulness (part 1)
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
One of the Joint Public Issues Team’s six hopes is a politics characterised by listening, kindness and truthfulness. While few people see these traits as undesirable and most would welcome them in our politics, we are consistently presented with examples of politicians who seem to be devoid of them!
Why does this continue to happen? I believe it is in part due to political expediency. We have heard political leaders try to convince us that other personal qualities matter less than their ability to ‘get the job done’. The problem with this compromise is, of course, that an individual’s traits cannot be treated in isolation but constantly interact. Someone might be good at solving a pressing issue, but if they are devoid of listening, truthfulness and kindness, their problem solving will lack the benefit of these. Problematic results follow into all the work they do – on the big election-winning issues and everything else.
No politician will be perfect – they are humans with flaws, just like the rest of us. But politicians with the traits of listening, truthfulness, and kindness will be aware of and engaged with these flaws. They will be humble enough to work to overcome these, surrounding themselves with people and structures that lead to their – and our society’s – edification. Without such positive traits, an individual is likely to ignore or try to hide their faults, convince themselves they are not problematic and fail to grow away from them.
Before casting a vote, therefore, we should assess those who want to lead us with these key characteristics in mind. Even the best candidates are unlikely to tick all our boxes, but we should still be picky. If enough of us are, perhaps listening, kindness and truthfulness will become a necessary part of being a politician, rather than an added bonus.
Dear God, we pray for our current leaders in politics, and those who will attempt to lead. Let them listen to others, let them speak truthfully, let them act kindly.
Give us wisdom to discern those who pursue these values. Give us strength to challenge those who don’t. Amen.
Alfie Prothero is a parliamentary intern with the Joint Public Issues Team. Alfie splits his time between working with JPIT and working for an MP