On spending a day recently reading one of Saturday’s national newspapers, I was overwhelmingly struck by how at both national and international levels – across all public and private organisations – everybody is struggling with truth and how to find it. The Wikileaks phenomenon provides a startling reaction to the publication of truth and – even though intuitively people know the truth sets one and potentially others free – the efforts to ‘shoot the messenger’ have been frightening. The originator of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has received numerous death threats and has gone into hiding. US Internet providers ditched the site in the space of two days. The French Government attempted to ban French servers from hosting the trove of leaked data.
Thankfully, Assange has managed to find several other internet servers. What Julian Assange is doing is mature journalism – and we need good journalism that seeks the truth, speaks the truth and indicates ways to implement the truth. The challenge for journalists is that if you don’t know the truth of your own being and the truth of what makes you tick, then writing about the truth out there will, inevitably, and often unconsciously, be shadowed by that lack of inner knowing. “To thine own self be true, and as sure as night follows day, thou cannot be false to any man” – Shakespeare’s Hamlet was a man’s struggle to act on truth resulting in so many tragedies.
I then came to reading about China and its treatment of its jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo who is currently in prison because he dared to be politically different. He didn’t threaten anybody, bomb anyone, shoot anyone; what he did do was to co-author the Charter ’08 petition calling for political reform in China. The reform proposal was widely publicised online and signed by thousands. including the 81 year old Mr Mao. The Chinese Government is outraged that the 54 year old Mr Liu has been awarded the Nobel Peace prize, the ceremony which is due to be held in Oslo next week - preceding your reading of this article. Mr Liu’s wife is now under house arrest; his lawyer has been blocked from flying out of China and even the elderly Mr Mao was not allowed on a flight to Singapore. When a regime labels a citizen – and a mature one at that – ‘a dissident’, the reality is it is the individuals who hold political power are the ‘dissidents.’ Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe who has ruled ruthlessly (without truth) is such an extreme example of unrelenting and terrifying oppression of truth and the true nature of the human spirit. Burma is another case in point. When politicians know their own truth, they are not frightened by difference; on the contrary, they welcome it. Difference is what makes for a co-creative space, an opportunity to learn from each other and maybe create new opportunities for self, others and the world at large. At the moment, China appears, on the one hand, to want to be centre stage in the international world – economically, politically and socially – but, its treatment of its citizens, its stifling of the truth, its repressing difference reveal deeper inner questions that its political leaders need to have of themselves. Their support of the recent North Korean attack on South Korea is not a hopeful sign that a breakthrough of truth to consciousness is about to happen. At least from our point of view as individuals who are part of a world of individuals, we can celebrate, congratulate and honour Mr Liu on his Nobel Peace prize recognition and take heart from the truth penned by him.
Another news item that caught my attention was the cynical decision of FIFA – a multi-national, multi-billion euro organisation – to award Russia the 2018 venue for the World Cup and Qatar the 2022; all this in a week that Wikileaks revealed Russia to be a Mafia State led by Mr Putin as well as the revelation that South Africa is left owning millions of dollars following the 2010 World Cup. It’s a similar refrain of ‘profits before people’ and ‘cover-ups before truth’.
Whatever the events – wherever they are – China, Russia, Switzerland (FIFA base), Zimbabwe, Germany, Greece, Ireland – there appears to be a failure of so many individuals in political, psychological, social, economic life to come to terms with corruption, greed, avarice, depersonalisation, ‘cover-ups’, denial, bullying, deprivation of speaking the truth and the list of ‘mistakes’ is endless.
Where will hope come from? It can only come from within; one mature teacher can transform a school, a parent who examines her life and reclaims the truth of herself can transform a family, a political leader who speaks from a solid interiority, who lives from the inside out, who knows the amazing capacities of his nature, can transform a party and, ultimately, a country. Such potential lies within each of us; those in leadership positions have a greater responsibility to seek the truth, and if that is not happening within, go outside and seek a professional psychologist who has expertise in that area and who practices what he offers.
Dr. Tony Humphreys practices as a clinical psychologist, is an author, national and international speaker. His book, with co-author Helen Ruddle, Relationship, Relationship, Relationship, The Heart of a Mature Society, is relevant to this week’s column.