The news has been dominated over the past few weeks by public figures for whom their personality has become a significant issue:
Gordon Brown: Has he got what it takes to be prime minister - or is he too depressing?
David Cameron: Has he got any substance to offer behind that style?
Vladimir Putin: Is the ability to shoot tigers useful in a Russian President?
Sarah Palin: Is the ability to shoot moose useful for an American VP?
We have also had some high profile Anglican personallities who have decided to voice their opinion about homosexuality:
Cliff Richard: Who has declared that gay marriage would be a good thing... and
Desmond Tutu: Who is appealing for the Church to talk about something else...
Is this emphasis on personality a good thing?
It certainly has a negative side, allowing those in power to cultivate an aura of invincibility and competence. It can also enable a leader to cover up for a lack of good ideas, or convince their population that all is well... In America, Sarah Palin and John McCain have, against the odds, convinced the many people that they, as Republicans, are the party of change, in spite of the fact that Republicans have been in the white house for the past eight years...
But personallity can also have a positive side. Desmond Tutu has spent much of his life with limitations on his power. Even when he was Archbishop he served against the backdrop of an apartied regime that sought to limit his human rights. Now in retirement he speaks without actual power - but with the authority he has earned because of his life and experience. His personallity is what we see and his personaility still communicates. He may not dance when he preaches these days - but he is still part of the message.
We need to relate to one another as human beings. Today through blogs, facebook and social networking this is possible in a whole new way. But like all human abilities, or ability to relate as people is open to abuse, just as it empowers us to discover truth together...