The way leading politician’s lives are splashed over the media is sensationalist and distasteful all in one. And yet we’ve been bred by the media to be comfortable with this partnership. Indeed, we begin to crave a bit of grotesque titillation. It’s part of what we expect.
We’re seeing in an ongoing way young people getting elected, people like you and me developing some political nous. Mhairi Black is the most obvious recently elected MP that we can point to who in her own way is beginning to inspire about the possibilities that are out there. But even her story is one that the media has sought to blight because of her online footprint, because of aspects of her past.
So will the Mhairi Black’s continue to look to enter political service knowing that their past will be dredged up to make the Metro newspaper read on every bus/train in Britain? The dread of that happening with our online footprint is a terrifying thought. Because whether we like it or not, our ills are captured on the web, on social media, as much as they are in face-to-face relationships. The question is, will this deter our generation to get involved in politics on a local and/or the national level?
But there is a real difference in our generation to how we react to possible misdemeanours in the past from the generations above us. We tend to make more room for past indiscretions, overlooking even sizeable mistakes in life. Will we worry if the generations above us slam our past in public? Perhaps. We’re not used to our past being treated in such a way with our peers.
But this tells us something important too. Something that the generations above us can teach us. Even though the school of life will invariably mean that we’ll make mistakes, or in a Christian sense, sin, it is therefore essential that we take these potential mistakes way more seriously than we perhaps have. So whereas our generation is to be praised for easily overlooking past ills, the other side of the coin means that we don’t always take sin as seriously as we should and run into it headlong with less fear.
Can we then learn to throw off sin, sin online, sin unplugged, honing our characters before God, with God, so that if we do land in public service, we’ve less “dirt” to be thrown at us? Can we also demonstrate a mercy and forgiveness that generations above us have perhaps not shown, teaching them something about not socially demonising and excluding? Will we be brave enough to shoot for public service, shaping and reshaping society as best we can knowing that we may be the next sacrificial lamb? Let’s not call it that. We will enter politics because we want real. We want authenticity. If that means that some sordidly drag up our past, let’s stare it in the face and call it what it is and show the remorse required.
We want real in politics.