There are some people who place such expectations on their politicians’ characters, their values and actions, especially those of their national leaders, that we can justifiably declare those expectations misplaced.
Sometimes, one wonders whether they are describing someone who is dealing with the dark, cold, murky world of power–and the little bits of power that are its representation, which we call ‘money’–or not. Power, money, they are guiding threads of our unsatisfactory world. In fact, following their descriptions and the implications of their dissatisfactions over the actions and values of politicians, they seem to prefer a moral saviour, a saint and, would you know it, even God! They forget that the latter’s main impetus is to counteract the world of power and that, by their counteraction, they often unwittingly justify its existence and determine its value for life, their particular counteractive life, albeit by negation…
The necessary by negation, or the inherently valuable by coexistence, is always hard to perceive. The cruel, painful and long history of the unjustifiably subjugated–precisely because insufficiently unappreciated–sex spanning the entire world shows how easy it is to not notice how things can be necessary and valuable by negation.
For those who wish and sometimes demand that politicians never lied, who wish they were always ‘nice’ to everyone at all times and did what was always in our direct, indirect, individual and-or moral self-interest, I have a few words from the master of all saints and moralists, a man whose word is closer to God in our eyes than any other saint:
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
— Mark 12:17
How do you understand the words of the master of saints? Allow me the audacity, but only if you accept my apology in advance, to tell you what you would not hear: you are misguided in your expectations. Your expectations are misplaced and I implore you to no longer seek God in all the wrong places.
I will assume this audacity for one reason: you have more power over your politicians than you imagine. If you place such high expectations on them you are asking them to rise up so high that they lose sight of the cold, murky world of power and its representation. Consider the consequences of such expectations.
You need not imagine these consequences; just take a closer look at the actions and consequences of our moral, moralistic, saintly, and ‘nice’ politicians and leaders. Look at the trend about what sells as ‘leadership’ or ‘presidential’ material. Look at what count as qualities of a ‘Prime Minister’. Look at what we are drawn to, what invites our attention when it comes to policy–I promise you, it is rarely the minutia of their policies.
Alas, you will find the saint peer his ugly, albeit warm and nonthreatening face at you from our beloved leaders and politicians. You will often feel like you are in the presence of a pied piper, a great hypnotizer; a man or woman who tries to traffic with God; a pious, warm and cuddly person akin to your caring, cool and always-on-your-side relative.
Oh if I could pluck my eyes and give them to you only for a moment–just so you can see the devastation this trend has wrought on our world from my eyes. Your misplaced expectations have done more to counteract your urge for moral, nice and saintly leaders than I could possibly express adequately in words in order to convince you. Sometimes, I fear that you do not want to be convinced. I think you have already invested too much in your expectations, which thought–I confess–is excruciating to me.
I will speak where my silence is preferable, however. I will say that you are more powerful through your expectations than you probably imagine. I would warn you to use that power wisely, responsibly, with a keen eye to the future. I would implore you to distinguish what you expect from a politician, what you expect from yourself and finally what you expect from God. Why? Because I would rather you did not confound all three into one person and then project that person onto a societal function–as you have been doing hitherto.
Notice that nobody will be able to assume that role and function adequately, but they will nevertheless try in their initially innocent pursuit for power. Noticing they cannot quite meet the expectation, they will resort to lies to acquire your confidence. If lies will not work, then, more and more, day by day, they will assume a power over you and the rest of us that is more formidable than you can imagine now. So formidable, in fact, that its coming into being, their wielding it, would invoke a disappointment in you that I shudder to imagine and digest.
In short: do not expect a politician to be a moralist, a saint or God, because he or she just might . . .
What happens when God and power mix? Well, let us again refer to our master of saints once more, since, by my observation, your yearning is for God more than it is for politics. I refer you to his words and actions according to Mark (11:15-19) Matthew (21:12-17) Luke (19:45–48) and John (2:13–16). What did he do when he found the money changers and merchants in the temple of God, i.e, what did he do to those who exchanged little bits of power under the warm, embrace and care of God? What did the master of saints, who is more consistent, more moral, more saintly and more loving than any other saint and person hitherto? Well, according to Mark:
And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
–Mark 11: 15-17
Do not listen to me. If you seek a saint, a moralist and God, then go to the right place. Do not look for him in all the wrong places. Do not let your expectations insidiously coax you into turning our leaders and politicians into saints, moralists and Gods: they cannot possibly be and by their trying they will turn into liars, thieves and finally despots… You are more powerful than you imagine, so wield that power responsibly. Render to God what is God’s–because it is God you seek, not a politician.