Where Have Britain’s Good Men Gone?

From the March 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

Britain was once known around the world not just for bad cooking, but also for reliability and decency, symbolized by one of Britain’s most recognizable icons: the bobby. With his hard blue hat and neat uniform, the British policeman had a reputation for being helpful and incorruptible.

That reputation is swiftly crumbling. A few months ago, the police were caught falsifying evidence on a huge scale. Back in 1989, nearly 100 football fans died as spectators tried to squeeze into a stadium. Now it has emerged that the police altered over a hundred witness statements to deflect blame from themselves. This wasn’t the result of one corrupt officer: It was systemic deceit by a whole regional police force.

In December, they were caught at it again. The police brought down a government minister—the chief whip—with false evidence, a lying policeman and an apparently falsified police log book. One journalist noted, “If they can frame a chief whip, they can frame anyone.”

Sadly, these wrongdoings are typical of scandals that, over the last year or so, have rocked the reputation of a number of British institutions once regarded as respectable and upright. Politicians, journalists, bankers and TV stars have been arrested recently over one sin or another. Reliability and decency are no longer core British traits.

The BBC used to be known the world over as the impartial voice of the news. Now, aside from its long-running problems with left-wing bias, it is in trouble for covering up child sex abuse.

Britain’s press has never had a particularly solid reputation. But that reputation has perhaps never sunk so low as now, after revelations about journalists hacking the phones of bereaved parents.

A trustworthy reputation used to be the most valuable asset of any British bank. Banks designed their branches like Greek temples, with wide columns and solid stone walls projecting an image of sturdy reliability. Now, however, in the wake of the banking collapse and LIBOR scandal, bankers are seen as barely better than bank robbers.

And Parliament? No one trusts politicians anymore. In 2009, the Houses of Parliament were shaken by revelations that ministers had fiddled their expenses, breaking the spirit of the rules if not the letter, to essentially steal thousands of pounds from taxpayers. So far, six have gone to jail; more could follow. Many claim that others got off more lightly than their actions deserved. New rules were put in place to stop fraud from happening again. Several politicians have already been accused of questionable practices trying to get around these laws.

Even the National Health Service, which Britain proudly put on display during the Olympics, has withered under the exposure of its inhumane standards of care in some cases.

Has corruption ever spread so far and so deep?

Isaiah 3:1-3 prophesy that God will remove strong male leadership from Israel and Judah. Today, capable leaders even on smaller scales have disappeared—upright traders, politicians, newspaper editors, police chiefs. Soncino Bible Commentary says “honorable man” refers to men who command respect. These are certainly gone today. Is there one institution left that Britain can point to with pride? The honorable man is missing from all walks of life.

This lack of honorable men is the nation’s biggest crisis. Britain could survive almost any catastrophe as long as men are decent, honest and upright. Look how stoically cities like London made it through the Blitz in World War II. But without honorable men, a crisis will cause society to fracture and collapse.

The most headline-grabbing stories today practically all trace back to Britain’s lack of honorable men. How bad would the banking crisis have been if bankers were all looking out for the best interests of their customers? The LIBOR scandal certainly would have been avoided. How much better would the nation’s finances be if everyone claiming welfare benefits put all their effort into finding a job? What if politicians set an example in being above reproach in how they spent the nation’s money?

Britain needs a revolution in character—from top to bottom. The restoration of the nation must prominently feature the restoration of the honorable man.