Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Who can understand the human heart?

“...of course nobody, no one party, no one person has a monopoly of wisdom. But if you look at the history of the last 200 years of this party’s existence, you will see that it is we Conservatives who have had the best insights, I think, into human nature and in the best insights in how to manage the jostling sets of instincts in the human heart.”

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister elect.

This is a bold claim, and, whether one agrees with it or not—and, personally, I am of the view that the best insights into human nature pre-date all modern political parties by millennia—it is salient that the Conservatives, at least under the last Prime Minister, who famously did not take counsel from anyone, have precisely not exercised insight into how to manage the jostling sets of instincts in the human heart.

The chances of Boris Johnson doing so are precisely zero. The chances of him even having any intention of trying are, debatable. But this does not mean that he, or his speech writer, is not at least part right. Parliament must always seek to find a way, drawing on the wisdom of each member and every party, to manage those jostling sets of instincts. Indeed, society as a whole must seek to do so.

For those who are dismayed by where we find ourselves as a nation, and union of nations, today, our first response must be to acknowledge that we, collectively, have failed in this task. The biblical words for this are confession, and lament.

Our best insights have blind-spots, and unintended negative impact on others, and, if we are honest, we often ignore our best insights in favour of self-interest. And, from time to time, the consequences bear down not only on those others, but on us all.

Confession and lament bring us back to something greater than ourselves, greater than our tribe. They bring us back to our senses, to our true selves, in both the most personal and most universal sense, as children of God, by bringing us back to the One who both made the human heart and instructs it in wisdom.

Thus would I advise our Prime Minister elect, and thus would I counsel my own jostling heart.

No comments:

Post a Comment