I sit here in my darkest moment. Never in my most disagreeable nightmare, at any point I may have reached when morale and sense of optimism mercilessly failed me, never did I think that I would have to write such a self-condemning letter.
In case you might be wondering, I am more than capable of self-criticism.
I have always been fully aware of my faults.
I was raised in a home where nothing escaped critical comment.
All of my flaws were open for inspection.
My father had three credos to live by. Everyone in his house was expected to do the same.
Eat All of Your Vegetables.
As a young man, I endeavoured to follow these three principles.
Of course there have been times when I fell short. Mightily short.
As a man, a husband, a father, I have fallen prey to the prideful pit of jealousy, to raising my voice to strengthen a losing position, to the occasional curse word directed at loved ones, enemies, God and the wind.
These were never proud moments for me.
I have managed, however, to religiously follow one of the three. No vegetable has ever been spared once it arrived on my plate. Even turnips! Even them.
Of course, I have gone to great lengths over the years to ensure that unwanted vegetables, more especially stray and revolting rooters, were misdirected by aides
But this letter is not about respect for women nor is it about the fate of vegetables.
This letter is about the scruffy essence of the political phenomenon, at least as I have experienced it.
It was only 24 years ago when I first threw my hat in the political ring. Fortunate to win by the slimmest of margins, I spent two years as a City Councillor. While there were no burning issues during that time, or at least any that overpowered me, I did take advantage of the position to weigh competing complexities. Development versus Environment. Profit versus Benefit for the people. Change versus Heritage.
Perhaps I oversimplified my take on political life during this early apprenticeship but I began to see that most of the issues we face, that the world faces, as being on a continuum and that the moderate middle ground might afford a level of solace, a reasonably satisfactory result.
When I offered myself to be your representative on a much larger stage, you welcomed me. I felt honoured.
The day I entered that hallowed chamber, I was overcome with the task before me. My responsibilities, shared with over three hundred others from across this land, included ensuring that our highways and bridges were in pristine order, that our elderly were suitably provided for, that crime and criminals were captured and punished, that the unfortunate were provided opportunities to enter the mainstream, that we, as a Country, engage in a supportive way with the massive challenges besetting our earth.
I imagined that I was up for it, that my ideals would see me through. That honesty, hard work, basic fairness and thoughtfulness would suffice.
And, for a long time, they did.
But then an almost invisible erosion began to scrape away at my confidence, my core values. As a member of a political party, I had certain obligations. Some votes were “directed.” This process is called “whipping,” and is much more descriptive than I had originally imagined.
I have bent here and there, often behind private doors. Small votes which were nothing much more than necessary compromises, a means to achieve something grander, someday. Perhaps!
But now, I will be exposed for the hypocrite I have allowed myself to become.
For all of this ethical erosion, I have stood steadfast on one principal tenet.
I am, have always been, as you know, totally and unequivocally opposed to war, to our participation in war of any kind.
We are the peacekeepers of the world. Or at least one of the major ones.
If not us, then who?
This has been my mantra ever and always when I have met you at meetings or individually. How often have you heard me say, “I will never vote to send our soldiers into any situation where they will be expected to engage in combat.”
That was not only my pledge: It was my faith.
This was as pure a pronouncement as I have ever issued.
But now, for reasons I cannot fully explain, my dedication to non-violence has drifted. Perhaps, at last, I have left my one remaining moral holdout from my youth behind.
I am not the only politician to suffer an epiphany.
David Lloyd George once said, “A young man who isn’t a socialist hasn’t got a heart; an old man who is a socialist hasn’t got a head.” Even this great British Liberal leader and opponent of war eventually came to appreciate the positive introduction of force.
Perhaps with eyes similar to Lloyd George’s I now look at my world, at the unrest, the warfare, the millions of migrants, so many on the move, children and women and old people stuck in the freezing mud of countries who do not want them, the voices calling for these migrants to return to their war torn homelands, I look at all this, I hear this and I lament any position which fails to fully engage in seeking remedy. I say this not really all that confident that a remedy exists but buoyed by this new found revelation that peace needs to won. It is not a given.
So, a lie of epic personal proportion has been told. It was my lie. My truth that…changed.
But it was, it is the lie of others as well.
It is an oft repeated lie uttered by those who sleep safely in the comfort of their own beds at night, who close their eyes, their hearts to the massive pain, the constant bleeding of the earth.
None of this brings me any solace.
Still, I will lie no longer, even if this is my darkest moment.
I have made my peace with this change of perspective and trust that in time you will at least accept my metamorphosis.
This is a tale written in response to friday-fiction-with-ronovan-writes-and the prompt-challenge is to construct a fiction about “a-lie-is-told.” Here are the specs for the story
- See if you can come in at more than a Word Count of 600. Control your word usage. (SUGGESTED)
- Using the prompt of ‘A lie is told’ create a scene. This scene can be about what happens because of the lie, or how it makes the person lying feel, or anything you can come up with. If a series is being written, like some are doing, this lie can come back later to haunt the liar. (REQUIRED
This fiction of mine has some weaknesses including length but I hope I have captured something of the angst a political representative might experience in coming to terms with a change of position.