Barnaby Joyce’s lesson shows why character and virtue still matter

Barnaby Joyce’s lesson shows why character and virtue still matter, by Martyn Iles.

In a world dominated by virtue signalling and externals, it is not often that the political conversation turns to questions of character.

First the truth was avoided by many in media and public life.

Then it was stymied by claims that one’s private life ought to remain private.

When the man himself finally had to speak, he used the same defence.

In his official statement to the media, Barnaby Joyce twice emphasised the distinction between one’s private and public life.

This implies that we cannot expect to know about or debate the merits of a leader’s private life. It implies that such talk is not relevant at best, and hurtful at worst.

And yet plenty of people are very upset about it. Listening to talkback radio in recent days, many callers claimed that the issue was not only relevant, but important, though they struggled for the vocabulary to explain why.

The truth is, the private/public divide doesn’t exist when it comes to matters of character.

If a man is not faithful to his family, one might well ask whether he is faithful at all. To country, to God, to friends, to office, to truth… As a question of character, it permeates a person’s whole life and all that they do.

That is the nature of character and virtue. They are things which bear on our very mode of life. They qualify us at a most basic level for anything we set our hand to.

hat-tip Stephen Neil