Feature Article of Sunday, 19 August 2012

Columnist: Mensah, Richard Obeng

Politics Without Principles

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing (Emphasis is mine) - John15:5(KJV).

Real politics is a vital branch of human life. It is pivotal to modern developmental agenda of real civilized societies. Besides, politics epitomizes the real essence of real leadership-influence. Real “leadership”, it is said, “is influence, nothing more; nothing less”. And politics is one of the vehicles to wheedle this influence. Indeed politics is a wheedler of persuasion which is central to influence. Therefore, politics is one of the primary traits of mankind. In essence, every real human being, including even pastors and preachers, is a politician! However, not all persons are partisan politicians. Real politics hinges on real leadership principles. Politics becomes dirty if it is devoid of such principles. And anything devoid of real leadership principles is both polluted and poisonous. God is never against real politics; He only detests toxic politics because it defiles His creation. Creation is defiled whenever there is politics without principles.
Politics without principles breeds toxics. This means that politics without principles is dirty and poisonous, or, you may say, pollution, for the sake of cheap civility! Dirty politics is therefore the product of toxic politics. Poisonous politicians are the architects and agents of toxic politics. Dirty propaganda is their key political strategy. Poisonous politicians are carnally cantankerous, critically incorrect, increasingly indecorous, deeply dishonest, highly hypocritical, pompously prideful, morally bankrupt, insignificantly productive, uncivilized, self-centred, and wicked!
However, Albert and Comfort Ocran rightly argue that a real political aspirant must pursue a partisan politics that is “characterized by a sense of diligence, conscience, character, strong moral fibre, an awareness of our humanity and an unwavering commitment to a set of (real) principles”. Truly, “The failure to inculcate this balanced perspective into our approach (of leadership) has contributed to the increasing spate of emerging leaders in fields like politics, (Christianity), religion, and business who are so much in a hurry to attain wealth and power but unwilling to endure the process, investment and diligent effort required to get there. They love the fruits but despise the gradual, systematic processes required to get it”. No wonder “a society that struggles to cope with crumbling values seeks to conveniently rewrite the rules and suggest that one’s character and moral failings do not matter as long as there is competence and technical ability”. This growing deception underpins why morality in so-called civilized societies is relegated to the background. Hollow and cheap civility can never replace real principles of life. Without them, society breaks! Dr. Stephen R. Covey, a leadership expert, said it best when he wrote, “Purely intellectual development without commensurate internal character development makes as much sense as putting a high-powered sports car in the hands of a teenager who is high in drugs”. Europe and the Western world are painfully learning the truth that without morality, their development gains are only a shadow and shaky! No godly morals; no real civility and life!
Jesus is the vine of human life, and real politics is one of its branches. Life without the vine is vain; a branch without a vine bleeds; and politics without Jesus is a dirty joke! A branch cannot bear fruits of itself; it must be connected to the vine, lest it withers. A branch needs constant nourishment from the vine to flourish. Therefore, politics without Jesus is fruitless! Thus without Jesus, a politician cannot be fruitful. This means that Jesus is the epitome of real leadership principles. Without him, politics withers and catches fire! This explains why unhealthy conflicts and wailing wars blaze in societies devoid of real politics. Such societies eventually become fruitless because dirty politics set their resources ablaze. To Mahatma Gandhi, there are “seven deadly sins” that would destroy the world. They are wealth without work; pleasure without conscience; knowledge without character; commerce without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice; and politics without principles”. True! Gandhi in essence hypothesizes that even in the most crucial areas of lives; there was no room to build anything without (real) principles and a sense of character. I therefore agree with Dr. Stephen R. Covey that “…At the root of societal declines are foolish practices that represent violations of correct principles”. Thus people and society experience real prosperity when they operate in harmony with real (correct) principles. Jesus is the core of real principles. He is the leader of leaders.
A real politician is a disciple of real principles. Such a politician follows procedures for achieving any result. There is a proper procedure for every matter. This means that there is a right way (to think or act) in every situation. Real principles are the right ways. They are absolute! It is a sad commentary that in today’s world many people would want us to believe that there are no absolutes in life. However, no matter your race, colour, creed or where on earth you find yourself there are always absolute (real) principles. Real principles are fundamental fixed laws, universal truths, timeless precepts, and are laws that have determinable consequences! They are not partial (have no favourites), values (preferences, societal, cultural and tribal norms), and practices (traditions). More importantly, real principles are fruitful if applied rightly.
The fruit of real principles is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. This means that the effect of real principles is superior to the strength of humanistic laws. Without them, humanistic laws at best idolizes immorality, demonizes democracy, promotes lusts instead of love, manages and maintain crises instead of enhancing peace, and makes mockery of justice. For instances, most legal instruments and religious codes fruitlessly try to preach and promote peace and shadow justice instead of real justice. They thus place the cart before the horse. Certainly, it is ridiculous to pursue real peace outside real justice. It is worth noting that world peace is never God’s peace-real peace. While real peace transcends human understanding, world peace is based on human understanding. Real peace is the product of the godly balanced of justice and mercy anchored in the truth. It therefore goes without saying that it takes real love to achieve real justice, and subsequently real peace. Real peace thrives on the branches of love and unity.

A real politician is a politician who is deeply connected to Jesus and his real principles of life. Such a politician practices politics through the channels of real principles. He knows that without Jesus he is only a leader just in title and position. But leadership is not in titles but in towels, and positional leaders are insecure leaders. Insecure leaders rule by coercive power. “The flip side of this kind of exercise of power,” in the words of Albert and Comfort Ocran, “is that followers often resent the leader and quietly look for ways to subvert the system. Coercive power often breeds hypocritical followers whose loyalty is barely skin-deep. Relationships based on coercive power are transient and are characterized by suspicion, deception and dishonesty. When the leader’s controlling system is removed, everything disappears. (Nations) built on this basis are ultimately headed for disaster”. If you are a partisan politician, it is not too late to be a real politician. Get connected to Jesus!

Richard Obeng Mensah, author of If You Think of Your Opposition You Lose Your Position.