It is only when we are true to ourselves that we can understand and grow. It is only when we are true in relationship that the relationship can flourish. It is only when we are true in politics that we can make real choices, that democracy can flourish.
When was it so-called democratic politicians stopped telling us the truth? Maybe it was around the 1970s, as suggested in the interesting BBC documentary hypernormalisation. But it seems to have got worse e.g. reality of what happened in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel; Iraq war buildup; the so-called axis of evil; inequality and its causes; so-called trickle down economics and reality of increasing inequality; house and debt bubbles; causes of 2008 financial crash; not addressing the causes of that crash; blaming other politicians through untrue stories; tax avoidance and promises to do something that never materialise; targets for immigration that have no means of achievement; the idea that there is no alternative to austerity; blaming the EU rather than solving problems with them; gesture politics rather than really addressing problems; dropping campaign promises as soon as elected; funding fossil fuels known to be a danger to us all, and on and on and on.
So it is no surprise that people have today little faith in politicians and have in large numbers rejected the current set in the UK Brexit and US Trump votes – even though the campaigns were even more based on lies. What was the difference, people may well have thought. At least let’s try something different.
Now, I know it’s easy to call for truth, yet we know that as parents we sometimes tell varying degrees of lies to protect or entertain our children. We lie to other adults, perhaps where we would cause unnecessary offence or unpleasant consequences. So it’s no surprise that governments lie in a similar way.
What’s so different today? Maybe it’s just that the edifice of lies, ‘the narrative’ that is defended at all costs, has grown so large and is just so far separated from reality. The point is that people live in reality, so they become increasingly dissatisfied with the gap between that and the narrative. So they vote for change. They’ll probably not get the change they wanted, just a different narrative.
But maybe one day we’ll get the politicians and governments we actually crave – those that actually tell us most of the truth most of the time, and actually address the real issues facing us.
Trouble is, it’s so hard today with all the media and vested interests. At the tail end of his role as US Secretary of State, John Kerry actually for once speaks out the truth of the situation in Israel. He is immediately shouted down by all the vested interests and their narratives.
Truth is one of Plato’s three primary qualities: goodness, truth and beauty. The journey can be hard, but may this always be our direction of travel, as individuals and as collectives.