Holy Week 2013

Wednesday in Holy Week

It is a truism to accuse politicians of being liars. Rarely a day goes by without the accusation that somebody or other is at best being economical with the truth; and we all know, don't we, that they would lie even more if they thought they could get away with it but they can't because of our fearlessly honest press which never tires of speaking truth to power. That double proposition sums up our moral ecology: the great gift, if we want to call it that, of politicians is not that they have the chutzpa to lie to us but that they are capable of enormous feats of self-delusion: perhaps the single most important quality in a Prime Minister is the ability to persuade himself of the truths he speaks. And, as for the second part of the proposition, surely this art of self-delusion is the key to understanding the self-righteousness of a hopelessly corrupted and partisan press with its pompous self-title of "The Fourth Estate?"

Put in that context, the accusation that Judas was a traitor looks less certain. He persuaded himself that he was doing the right thing; and, as so often in life, he was presented with, what to him at least, looked like a no-win situation. To him, it looked like a choice, as it so often is, between the cause and the man; and he chose the cause, only to regret the miscalculation he made, thinking that Jesus would receive a sharp rebuke; he was clearly appalled when he saw what was really going to happen, so appalled that he took his own life.

And, what of us? How good are we at persuading ourselves that what we want to think is the truth, that the intellectual position coincides with what will be good for us? And how good are we at choosing between the lesser of two evils, of facing up to no-win situations? How often do we criticise an unpleasant decision without taking the trouble to consider what the alternatives were, particularly when the adverse decision affects us personally?

Judas was wrong in his self-delusion and in his calculations but would we not be better off sympathising with him rather than vilifying him?