A philosopher friend recently said to me that most philosophical writing fails due to ‘sapiential deficit’. What a wonderful phrase. This was in response to a blog piece of mine in which I’d said that I’ve always found most philosophy books unreadable. Maybe it could become a recognised syndrome, Sapiential Deficit Disorder (SDD), early diagnosis of which could stop the wrong sort of chap from becoming Prime Minister. Or President. Charging off to war for ideological reasons without thinking through the consequences.
A British MP, David Ward, has just made himself unpopular in the run-up to Holocaust Memorial Day by saying that he was "saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza".
Now of course you’re not supposed to say things like that in public life, and I’m sure David Ward will soon be accused of anti-Semitism. Anyone who criticises Israel is liable to be called anti-Semitic. It’s throwing mud in the hope that it will stick. ‘Racist’ and ‘Chauvinist’ often get used in the same way.
But it made me think that David Ward is doing what politicians should do: showing leadership by speaking the truth. If you want high office as a politician, you usually have to do the opposite, fudge the truth and ignore inconvenient realities. I became aware of Barack Obama’s capacity for fudging early in his 2008 campaign when his spiritual mentor, Rev Jeremiah Wright, was shown in a video saying that 9/11 was America’s chickens coming home to roost. Of course it was true, but politically you have to say they were mindless terrorists doing it for no reason. So Obama denounced Rev Wright and severed his connection with him. What a thing to do, what a betrayal of himself. Probably the main cause of SDD in politicians.
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It’s the opposite of real leadership, which is standing up and saying something that you know to be true. It has that feel of integrity, solid ground to it, something you can live your life by. In the UK each party has it’s ‘maverick’ MPs who say what they think. I think they have a very important role. The most popular politicians are often those who manage to combine High Office with a degree of truth-telling. Like Vince Cable, the Business Secretary.
Astrologically, I think of various factors: Sagittarius, with its capacity for straightforward, refreshing honesty. Uranus/ Aquarius, which thinks nothing of breaking the rules and being original. Mars/Aries, which sees truth as a fight to be fought. Pluto/Scorpio, which wants to live by what is real, and is comfortable with unpalatable truths. The astrological factors can show the reasons for, or way in which, you tell difficult truths. Probably a bit clumsily, if like me you have Sag. But fundamentally it is a matter of integrity, and the chart doesn’t show that. Is this being a saint or a sinner or a chicken? You don’t know until you’ve met them.