Parents have been in the news this last week. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has confirmed that who he thought was his father isn’t and he is the product of a “liaison” by his mother with Winston Churchill’s private secretary.
It was an interesting word to use, somewhat clinical and abstract about what is a betrayal of trust and respect.
The other parents in the news have been David Cameron’s.
His father had money with a company that meant he avoided paying UK tax, while his mother gave David a substantial sum as a gift which it could be argued was to avoid inheritance tax.
Pressure is on for total transparency and he is being forced into publishing every detail of his personal finances.
It’s all a bit of a mess really and not especially edifying.
What is odd is the extent to which the press and media have gone to town with the two stories.
Across the world people are dying because of real issues and here we are poring over the minutia of two people, albeit public figures who may or may not be less respected for actions by members of their families.
How they deal with these issues will help us in how we regard them but I can’t help but feel that the reporting has not been the most helpful.
There are things in all our pasts that we are probably not that proud of and are quite vigilant in wishing to forget them.
How would any of us feel about having those personal matters broadcast for all to see and to pick over?
There is a story in the Bible about a woman caught in adultery being brought to Jesus and asking whether she should be stoned in accordance with the law.
He replied that those who were perfect and without fault in anything should be the first to throw stones at the woman.
One by one they all slunk away knowing that none of them were without fault.
Accountability for those in the public eye is not necessarily a bad thing and when there is true cause to require answers for actions that is not wrong.
Given that as human beings we daily struggle with issues and sometimes make bad decisions it would be good if there could be a greater exercise of compassion and understanding.
A helpful phrase to remember before we launch into condemning someone is, “There but for the grace of God go I”. It may help to keep things in perspective!