‘“You are a king, then! said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked.”’ John 18:37-38
Just from the beginning of Church Age, Christians have from time to time been called upon to give an explanation for their belief in what the Bible says about God and His Son, Jesus the Christ. In our present times, there are detractors, mockers, and doubters everywhere who ridicule Christian faith and try so hard to dissuade believers from the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The age in which me and you live in, is one of doubt and relativism is dominant. For a larger population there is no such thing as absolute truth. Many ask, “How can I be sure of anything?” This kind of approach culminates in purpose and meaning of their lives being seriously affected. But we can be sure! We can know the truth about God, and this knowledge will give direction to our lives. Why is that? Because God broke into human history through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus the Christ.
In the above quote, perhaps it was in mockery, or maybe in pure sincerity, that Pilate at the trial of Jesus inquired, “What is the truth?” What seemed to have prompted Pilate’s question was a statement Jesus made in verse thirty seven.
In His earlier conversation with the Jews who had believed in Him, Jesus told them, “If you embrace and hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jesus thereafter in chapter fourteen of the same book of John made a remarkable follow up statement of proclamation to His disciples, saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”
Now when you consider the implication of this proclamation, one is but inclined to draw this conclusion; that, in essence Jesus is saying, to be related to Him is to be related to Truth itself! The burning question therefore is, how can we be sure that, this is a true statement? Everything now hangs on the truth or falsehood of this assertion of Jesus the Christ.
Just as unbelief cannot change the truth, wishful thinking will not make a statement true either. The proclamation Jesus made asserts that, He alone is Truth and it demands a response. Otherwise, He was not what He claimed to be and is not worthy of honor because He was either being dishonest or He was deluded. I for one and I believe it is with you, it is desperately imperative to know for sure that this assertion can be tested to be true or has been tested to be true.
PHILOSOPHY AND CHRISTIAN FAITH To put philosophy and faith in one sentence may lead to some of my Christian brothers and sister raising their eye brows; because there are those who propound the idea that philosophy in Christian circles must be avoided as it is the work of the unregenerate man and a product of demons or Satan himself. But I take the side that belief that philosophy anticipates or parallels Christian theology and therefore validates or confirms it. One’s philosophy is his world-and-life view. In this regard one can propound a Christian philosophy. Through philosophy we can know the questions that trouble people.
Just as philosophy attempts to search for answers to great questions, Christian revelation deals with many of the same issues. Much of Scripture follows the same kinds of logical formulation as one would expect in the realm of philosophy. So, contact with philosophy enables us to understand the kinds of questions that need to be answered from the Scriptures. Too often our teaching answers questions which are not being asked, and fail to hear the questions which are begging for answers. It is against this background that I embrace philosophy. There are tools of philosophy which are useful for Christians; philosophy has concern for truth.
Jesus’ claim that He the truth is one of the many claims He laid upon Himself that has caused many to take arms against Him and His followers, but before dealing with the criteria for testing truth; here are five brief descriptions of theories of truth as discussed by Bernard Ramm that have been employed historically by philosophers.
BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF THEORIES OF TRUTH
Logic: its main concern is to investigate the nature of correct thinking and valid reasoning; using reason in an orderly, convincing way to make proof. It applies certain tests of truth such as reasonableness, correspondence and consistency to distinguish truth from error.
Correspondence: it concerns itself much with agreements of facts in that a proposition is accepted as true if it agrees with facts that cannot be disputed.
Meaningfulness: it holds that the full meaning of an idea or proposition can be found in the results that follow its application – if an idea works, it must be accepted as true. This is a criterion that places much value on the practicality of any proposition.
Consistency: this deals with connectivity between proposition or ideas. In other words a proposition is believed to be true because it agrees with other propositions that have been accepted as true.
Subjectivity: this criterion puts focus on one’s personal experience suggesting that truth can be tested on the basis of one’s feelings, intuition, instincts, or revelation. And revelation being defined as truth whose source is God. Many religions rely heavily upon this criterion of truth.
Clearly, a Christian must commit himself to some theory of proof. I strongly believe the likeness of man with God was not and is not necessarily physical; rather it is spiritual and moral. This likeness with God constitutes of rationality (reason), a mind that gives humans the ability to comprehend things in a genuine way. The human mind although limited, it possesses the capability to make a distinction between truth and fabrication. So, we have the capability to know whether the assertion made by Jesus about Himself hold water or not, and possibly advise Pilate in his quest to know “What is truth!” Shalom!
Intelligence and Security Service Act, which is a law that establishes the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DIS), provides for establishment of a Parliamentary Committee. Recently, the President announced nine names of Members of Parliament he had appointed to the Committee.
This announcement was preceded by a meeting the President held with the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition. Following the announcement of Committee MPs by the President, the opposition, through its leader, made it clear that it will not participate in the Committee unless certain conditions that would ensure effective oversight are met. The opposition acted on the non-participation threat through resignation of its three MPs from the Committee.
The Act at Section 38 provides for the establishment of the Committee to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Directorate. The law provides that the Parliamentary Committee shall have the same powers and privileges set out under the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.
On composition, the Committee shall consist of nine members who shall not be members of Cabinet and its quorum shall be five members. The MPs in the Committee elect a chairperson from among their number at their first meeting.
The Members of the Committee are appointed by the President after consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. It is the provision of the law that the Committee, relative to its size, reflect the numerical strengths of the political parties represented in the National Assembly.
The Act provides that that a member of the Committee holds office for the duration of the Parliament in which he or she is appointed. The Committee is mandated to make an annual report on the discharge of their functions to the President and may at any time report to him or her on any matter relating to the discharge of those functions.
The Minister responsible for intelligence and security is obliged to lay before the National Assembly a copy of each annual report made by the Committee together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of the provision of the Act.
If it appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Parliamentary Committee, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of the Directorate, the Minister may exclude that matter from the copy of the report as laid before the National Assembly.
So, what are the specific demands of the Opposition and why are they not participating in the Committee? What should happen as a way forward? The Opposition demanded that there be a forensic audit of the Directorate. The DIS has never been audited since it was set up in 2008, more than a decade ago.
The institution has been a law unto itself for a longtime, feared by all oversight bodies. The Auditor General, who had no security of tenure, could not audit the DIS. The Directorate’s personnel, especially at a high level, have been implicated in corruption. Some of its operatives are in courts of law defending corruption charges preferred against them. Some of the corruption cases which appeared in the media have not made it to the courts.
The DIS has been accused of non-accountability and unethical practices as well as of being a burden on the fiscus. So, the Opposition demanded, from the President, a forensic audit for the purpose of cleaning up the DIS. They demand a start from a clean slate.
The second demand by the Opposition is that the law be reviewed to ensure greater accountability of the DIS to Parliament. What are some of the issues that the opposition think should be reviewed? The contention is that the executive cannot appoint a Committee of Parliament to scrutinize an executive institution.
Already, it is argued, Parliament is less independent and it is dominated by the executive. It is contended that the Committee should be established by the Standing Orders and be appointed by a Select Committee of Parliament. There is also an argument that the Committee should report to Parliament and not to the President and that the Minister should not have any role in the Committee.
Democratic and Parliamentary oversight of the intelligence is relatively a new phenomenon across the World. Even developed democracies are still grappling with some of these issues. However, there are acceptable standards or what might be called international best practices which have evolved over the past two or so decades.
In the UK for instance, MPs of the Intelligence and Security Committee are appointed by the Houses of Parliament, having been nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. This is a good balancing exercise of involvement of both the executive and the legislature. Consultation is taken for granted in Botswana context in the sense that it has been reduced to just informing the Leader of Opposition without much regard to his or her ideas; they are never taken seriously.
Furthermore, the current Committee in the UK has four Members of the ruling party and five MPs from the opposition. It is a fairly balanced Committee in terms of Parliamentary representation. However, as said above, the President of Botswana appointed six ruling party MPs and three from the opposition.
The imbalance is preposterous and more pronounced with clear intentions of getting the executive way through the ruling party representatives in the Committee. The intention to avoid scrutiny is clear from the numbers of the ruling party MPs in the Committee.
There is also an international standard of removing sensitive parts which may harm national security from the report before it is tabled in the legislature. The previous and current reluctance of the executive arms to open up on Defence and Security matters emanate from this very reason of preserving and protecting national security.
But national security should be balanced with public interest and other democratic principles. The decision to expunge certain information which may be prejudicial to national security should not be an arbitrary and exclusive decision of the executive but a collective decision of a well fairly balanced Committee in consultation with the Speaker and the minister responsible.
There is no doubt that the DIS has been a rogue institution. The reluctance by the President to commit to democratic-parliamentary oversight reforms presupposes a lack of commitment to democratization. The President has no interest in seeing a reformed DIS with effective oversight of the agency.
He is insincere. This is because the President loathes the idea losing an iota of power and sharing it with any other democratic institution. He sees the agency as his power lever to sustain his stay in the high office. He thought he could sanitize himself with an ineffective DIS Committee that would dance to his tune.
The non-participation of the opposition MPs renders the Committee dysfunctional; it cannot function as this would be unlawful. Participation of the opposition is a legal requirement. Even if it can meet, it would lack legitimacy; it cannot be taken seriously. The President should therefore act on the oversight demands and reform the DIS if he is to be taken seriously.
For years I have trained people about paradigm shifts – those light-bulb-switch-on moments – where there is a seismic change from the usual way of thinking about something to a newer, better way.
I like to refer to them as ‘aha’ moments because of the sudden understanding of something which was previously incomprehensible. However, the topic of today’s article is the complete antithesis of ‘aha’. Though I’d love to tell you I’d had a ‘eureka ‘, ‘problem solved’ moment, I am faced with the complete opposite – an ‘oh-no’ moment or Lost Leader Syndrome.
No matter how well prepared or capable a leader is. they often find themselves facing perplexing events, confounding information, or puzzling situations. Confused by developments of which they can’t make sense and by challenges that they don’t know how to solve they become confused, sometimes lost and completely clueless about what to do.
I am told by Jentz and Murphy (JM) in ‘What leaders do when they don’t know what to do’ that this is normal, and that rapid change is making confusion a defining feature of management in the 21st century. Now doesn’t that sound like the story of 2020 summed up in a single sentence?
The basic premise of their writing is that “confusion is not a weakness to be ashamed of but a regular and inevitable condition of leadership. By learning to embrace their confusion, managers are able to set in motion a constructive process for addressing baffling issues.
In fact, confusion turns out to be a fruitful environment in which the best managers thrive by using the instability around them to open up better lines of communication, test their old assumptions and values against changing realities, and develop more creative approaches to problem solving.”
The problem with this ideology however is that it doesn’t help my overwhelming feelings of fear and panic which is exacerbated by a tape playing on a loop in my head saying ‘you’re supposed to know what to do, do something’. My angst is compounded by annoying motivational phrases also unhelpfully playing in my head like.
Nothing happens until something moves
The secret of getting ahead is getting started
Act or be acted upon
All these platitudes are urging me to pull something out of the bag, but I know that this is a trap. This need to forge ahead is nothing but a coping mechanism and disguise. Instead of owning the fact that I haven’t got a foggy about what to do, part of me worries that I’ll lose authority if I acknowledge that I can’t provide direction – I’m supposed to know the answers, I’m the MD! This feeling of not being in control is common for managers in ‘oh no’ situations and as a result they often start reflexively and unilaterally attempting to impose quick fixes to restore equilibrium because, lets be honest, sometimes we find it hard to resist hiding our confusion.
To admit that I am lost in an “Oh, No!” moment opens the door not only to the fear of losing authority but also to a plethora of other troubling emotions and thoughts: *Shame and loss of face: “You’ll look like a fool!” * Panic and loss of control: “You’ve let this get out of hand!” * Incompetence and incapacitation: “You don’t know what you’re doing!”
As if by saying “I’m at a loss here” is tantamount to declaring “I am not fit to lead.” Of course the real problem for me and any other leader is if they don’t admit when they are disoriented, it sends a signal to others in the organisation stating it’s not cool to be lost and that, by its very nature encourages them to hide. What’s the saying about ‘a real man never asks for direction. ..so they end up driving around in circles’.
As managers we need to embrace the confusion, show vulnerability (remember that’s not a bad word) and accept that leadership is not about pretending to have all the answers but about having the courage to search with others to discover a solution.
JM point out that “being confused, however, does not mean being incapacitated. Indeed, one of the most liberating truths of leadership is that confusion is not quicksand from which to escape but rather the potter’s clay of leadership – the very stuff with which managers can work.”
2020 has certainly been a year to remember and all indications are that the confusion which has characterised this year will still follow us into the New Year, thereby making confusion a defining characteristic of the new normal and how managers need to manage. Our competence as leaders will then surely be measured not only by ‘what I know’ but increasingly by ‘how I behave when I accept, I don’t know, lose my sense of direction and become confused.
.I guess the message for all organizational cultures going forward is that sticking with the belief that we need all-knowing, omni-competent executives will cost them dearly and send a message to managers that it is better to hide their confusion than to address it openly and constructively.
Take comfort in these wise words ‘Confusion is a word we have invented for an order not yet understood’!