Two memories combine as I contemplate the modern political scene.
One, a memorable speech from a meeting a few years back. Our work group director publicly thanked an assistant director for being a voice of clarity in their deliberations. He said she had a remarkable gift for gently yet firmly pointing out where his ideas were incomplete and destined to fail unless substantially reworked. An awesome speech, inspiring to hear of the wisdom of the associate. But the speech also showed the humility of our director, who would publicly praise his assistant for showing him where he was wrong, rather than sideline her as an annoying obstacle to his plans.
Second memory, C. S. Lewis writing about his wife in A Grief Observed, stating one thing he misses greatly about her was her ability to penetrate the nonsense in his thinking. “Her mind was lithe and quick and muscular as a leopard. Passion, tenderness and pain were all equally unable to disarm it. It scented the first whiff of cant or slush then sprang, and knocked you over before you knew what was happening. How many bubbles of mine she pricked!”
What makes politicians popular today? Saying what you think, not letting “those people” intimidate you.
Is not sticking to one’s convictions a good thing? Yes. Stick to your convictions of value, but be flexible and teachable about how to implement those values. What should we value in politics? My list would include the rule of law, civility in discourse, equal opportunity and responsibility for all. But I also value being alert to complexity, ready to learn and to modify one’s default reactions in new circumstances are also virtues. I’m sure when we meet God face to face we will have much to learn. “I had no idea” we’ll probably find ourselves saying often. What did Job say when he saw God?
Where are the politicians who explain what they’ve learned from their opponents?
No one is like that. I must be dreaming, I know. But is not dreaming of the better something to be encouraged?