Sunday, 9 October 2011

In this atmosphere, who would want public office?

The latest "scandal" to hit the rarefied atmosphere of the Westminster / media village is that of British Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox and his over-close links to a friend (the best man at his wedding, in fact) who has contacts in the defence industry. Foolish, indiscreet, probably; a failure of judgement, undoubtedly; but this is surely not a political hanging offence - or even front page headline material - when we are facing the worst global economic crisis since 1929.

But the really shady part of this story appears to be the unattributed, behind-the-scenes comments being fed to the media by Dr Fox's own colleagues and others. Who would want to hold public office in a culture which is so poisonous and puritanically unforgiving?

Would that this kind of thing were confined to the world of politics.......... the Church isn't exactly immune as, without going into detail, I've found to my cost this past week, having been the subject of some wildly inaccurate but intentionally mischievous speculation about my future.
I grew up in a more innocent world where trolls were confined to the pages of Tolkien and the Nordic myths, and where they could be turned to stone at the flick of a wizard's wand. If only...

We live in a world of over-heated, instant responses, increasingly prone to vindictive witch-hunts and losing our heads and our sense of proportion, not to mention our Christian charity, at the click of a computer keyboard. We are all guilty of this to an extent: our very first response sometimes, if we don't take a deep breath, is to press the equivalent of the nuclear button, skipping all the intermediate stages on the way.
But I've got to the stage where there's only a certain amount of outrage, vituperation and sheer bile I can cope with without wanting to retreat to a hermit's cabin deep in a forest somewhere. If you know of one going, let me know. Although, as they say quite reasonably, if you don't want to be shot at, don't stick your head above the parapet.

It would seem that, having abandoned Christian faith, our society has clung on to the prurience, judgmentalism and sheer nastiness of the very worst aspects of puritanism, whilst paradoxically, and in sharp contradiction, simultaneously promoting a hedonistic cult of individualism - the confusion of the new dark ages indeed.

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