Almost a week has passed since Joe Hockey handed down his first budget as treasurer. The accusations of lying by the Prime Minister and the general deceit of the Liberal Party have filled our air waves.
The media community, and we as a general population, appear to have an obsession with the connection between promises, truth and lies. Yet, whether we agree with the proposed policies or not, anyone in leadership knows that often things we say cannot be realised in the way we would hope or intend.
As much as I was critical of the budget it appeared for many the more important issue was not the outcome of the policies but whether or not the government was perceived as being liars. Is the reason we should consider our allegiances not the policies of a party but their ability to be truthful?
Are we expecting too much from politicians and ourselves? Are we realistic about truth in politics? What does integrity really look like? Are we really focusing on the right questions?
In this week’s lectionary reading Jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the life.” For Jesus to make the claim of being ‘truth’ there appears to be a great gulf between his sense of being truth and what our politicians talk about. Being truth is not merely about not lying but about revealing through his presence how it really is.
Jesus shows us who we are and who God is by coming among us and truth is filled with as much confrontation as it is with good news.
I suffer no delusions: politicians cannot embody the truth, let alone keep their promises! So it is that I wonder if our desire for such high integrity for our politicians is realistic. Have we been duped into a vicious cycle of judgement and accusations about truth and lies in politics to the point we think whether a person keeps their promise is the end goal?
What shift is needed in our thinking? The thinking of the press, the populous and the pollies to help us move to a new space where a different dialogue about our future and the way we make decisions can take place? How do we make the well being of all people not the unrealised promises of a few the focus?
2 replies on “Of budgets, truth and faith”
This is a Big Idea, Peter. Is there some connection between truthfulness and faithfulness?
As children we were taught, “Don’t make promises you can’t keep”. How can a community, or its leaders, be people of promise when we cannot know what the future holds?
Can we remain faithful to one another during changing times, without resorting to weasel words to avoid admitting we got it wrong?
Thanks Phil, yes it’s a big idea. I was particularly concerned about the flaw in the idea that the biggest problem with politicians is they tell lies rather than they develop policies which impact badly on those who need the most help. I understand the need for security in the future but I also think with politicians would be found to have more integrity if they did not make promises at all, which leads to spend time defending their broken promises or using weasel words to get out of them. Rather if they name the issues and challenges and then begin an open dialogue with the other political parties, stakeholders and general populous in finding consensus on a way ahead. I think the Westminster adversarial system leads to the predicament we are in. Surely there are other (better) approaches out there. I think we just need to shift political dialogue from who told what lie to how we can address the difficult and complex issues we face.