This week in the Swedish news there have been two major scandals reported involving politicians. One was that of the Minister for Culture, who apparently neglected to pay her TV license fee for 16 years, for no apparent reason. The other was the new Minister for Trade who didn’t make tax payments for her children’s nanny (although she did pay the nanny), initially claiming she did not have enough money but later withdrawing this excuse when it was revealed that she and her husband had a combined income of some 15 million kronor (AUD $3 million, or $300,000 per year) over the 10 years concerned.
These revelations have prompted a witch hunt by the Swedish press, ever eager to expose the sins of those in positions of power. Today in the local paper there were revelations of speeding fines, unpaid TV licenses, smoking the odd joint, driving under the influence of alcohol, and even one local member of parliament who was guilty of forgetting her car registration and being caught when she was on holidays!
It all seems a bit of a storm in a teacup. I am not sure if all the excitement is because of our human desire to know that the people “up there” are just like us (making our sins a bit more acceptable), or if it is just the natural desire we all have to pull people down a peg, and expose hypocrisy. Certainly, I suppose, people in positions of power should be of good character and not be people who habitually break the law. But how many of us are in the position of “pointing the finger?” Truth is, none of us really has the right to be pointing. All of us, in our own little way, has broken the rules and then not told anyone, hoping that no-one will notice. As a doctor I am continually giving advice which I fail to follow myself.
The Bible seems to suggest that many who appear perfect on the outside have stuffed up by having wrong hearts. Those with right hearts are often not the ones that look the best. Those who teach would do well to learn their own lessons. Those who point the finger must be confident of their own righteousness.
As for Sweden’s politicians, they have at least been honest, transparent, and have shown some level of remorse for what many would see as fairly paltry sins. They are, no doubt, concerned about their future in politics. It certainly makes them seem more like “one of us” and perhaps that is a good thing for us all.
In the words of a certain Edward Langley, Artist (1928 – 1995), “What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.”