A personal reflection (4) on values and principles

I’d like to tell you a little bit about a young friend (I hope she’ll agree that’s not too strong a word). She’s a twenty-something who lives in Hong Kong. Like many of her friends and fellow citizens, she is often out in the streets protesting the Beijing regime’s attacks on democracy, freedom and the rule of law. That doesn’t make her all that special ~ over a million young people have done the same, often accompanied by their parents and teachers and so on. She is also a committed Christian and she tries very, very hard to live her Christian values, She has, for example, chosen to work in the social services field ~ earning, I’m pretty certain, less than she could make in the financial sector, for example ~ but she sees helping others as her duty as a Christian. Once again that’s not unique. I know, for certain, that there are many people who live their beliefs in the animist, Buddhist, Christian, Daoist, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim communities in Hong Kong and around the world. I would guess that we could find half a billion such people in the world, people who would be like my young friend, people, she would respect.

But, that being said, she’s an impressive young person ~ a “good” person in the best sense of that word.

The problem is that there are almost 8 billion people in the world and most of them like me, do not live up to the same high standards as does my young friend.

We should not be surprised, therefore, when, say, 90% of politicians, trade union and business leaders, police officers and postal worker, soldiers, like me, and surgeons, do not live all of their beliefs.

This is not to say that 90% of politicians are unethical, but some are, or lack principles, but some do. Do you really think that Xi Jinping RUSSIA-POLITICS-RELIGIONlives Buddhist, Confucian or Doaist values?  Do you think Vladimir Putin lives Christian principles? How about Donald J Trump or Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen? And what about this gang, just below? Do they live your Canadian values, do they abide by principles that you think matter?

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There are lots of principled MPs in Ottawa who live by their values. Yes, many (most? all?) made compromises, which are often necessary in public life  ~ because we all saw what happens when you try to live a value that is outside of the progressive mainstream, didn’t we? But we’ve seen many who stood up for their values:

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Some were pushed out, by their own party’s leader when they stood up for their own principles; some resigned from caucus; some refused to run again on ethical grounds, and some went so far as to cross the floor~ the “nuclear option” in politics.

So, not all politicians are unprincipled, have low moral values or are lacking in ethics. In fact, I’ll go so far as to suggest that most MPs in the BQ, the Conservative Party, the Liberals and the NDP are fundamentally decent men and women who want to serve their country and who see public office as the best way to do it. There are exceptions …

But, back to my young friend … will she go into politics? Not likely, in my opinion; and that is a pity because politics in Hong Kong and in Canada needs more people just like her. It’s a pity but, in her case, it’s also understandable because, even if Hong Kong is going to allow more free and fair local council elections ~ something I bet will never happen again, I think a person of firm moral principles who wants to live her Christian beliefs would find it hard to stand for office. And then back to Ottawa, in 2020. If 90% of politicians come from that large segment of society that is less than stellar (see my fourth paragraph, above), then are we not fortunate that so many of them, while having had to make some compromises, have, by-and-large, managed to stay honest?

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