Thursday, October 27, 2011

An Honest Man

It is rare to find somebody with integrity, somebody who values principle more than status & money. So this story in the UK's Guardian is heart-warming:
St Paul's canon Dr Giles Fraser resigned over plans to forcibly evict Occupy protesters from the outside the cathedral.
This makes very clear his unusual background and approach:
On the face of it, Giles Fraser is an unlikely looking cleric. Bald, jovial, worldly, ferociously bright but genial towards those within the fractious Church of England who disagree with him, his favourite form of garb is jeans and T-shirt.

It is a uniform in keeping with the 47-year-old's support for Chelsea football club and his determinedly demotic persona, though he had to change into a more conventional dog-collar and black suit when translated from his parish in Putney to St Paul's two years ago.

Looks are deceptive though: Fraser is the son of an RAF officer, educated at Uppingham private school and Newcastle University and latterly a lecturer at Wadham College, Oxford. He has been a regular lecturer at military staff colleges and at one stage considered becoming an army chaplain.

His family background is Jewish, and he was a teenage Trotskyite before converting to Anglicanism at university. His doctorate comes from a thesis on the 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who famously declared that God – at least in the old-fashioned sense – was dead.

Fraser, served his curacy on a rundown Midlands council housing estate and for 10 years was vicar of Putney parish church in one of the most well-heeled parts of London. He equally valued the church as the scene of the post-civil war debates on the sort of society England should become.

He has never made any secret of his generally, leftwing, progressive views both politically and within the Church of England, where he has been a prominent supporter of the pro-gay Inclusive Church group, launched at a service in his church.
It is classic that a tough issue results in the honest man withdrawing while the social climbers and "yes men" cling to power and creep higher up the echelons of society strengthening their death hold on society. In a nutshell this story explains why society makes so little progress and the evils of the past keep repeating and repeating.

Here is the bureaucratic jujutsu that did him in:
Some critics will undoubtedly say that his resignation was waiting to happen, given that Fraser is not an instinctive committee man or church bureaucrat: in Putney he was in charge, at St Paul's he has had to be part of a team. He had been talking privately about possibly needing to resign when the chapter voted to take action against the protesters, but his hand may have been forced – ironically – by the revelation of that in the media. It is an interesting question who leaked it: there are church conservatives who would be delighted to see him fall.
How many times has the honest man gone down for his principles while the more "supple" social climber has climbed higher? Ever wonder how a Stalin, a Hitler, or a Mao got to the top of the heap?

I look at how the media is trying to undermine the OWS movement by questioning their motives or by trying to put them in a box by demanding that they come up with a short list of "demands". The reality is that this is a movement of social protest deeply rooted in decades of mistreatment by a system that is gamed against the 99%. Those on top my slap themselves on the back with a "job well done" by getting rid of Giles Fraser but they are simply upping the pressure cooker of social unrest and ensuring an ever more devastating explosion because the system simply won't give the bottom 99% a fair break. History is replete with popular uprisings gone amok because the "clever" people on the top manipulated things right to the point of complete breakdown.

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