A plea for honesty in leadership echoed through the streets of Cardiff a few days ago following a heart-wrenching tragedy. Two young boys, just 16 and 15, died in a crash while riding an electric bike.
The incident sparked a riot, a chaotic symphony of anger and grief, with cars set ablaze and fireworks hurled at the police. The community, predominantly young boys, found themselves in a standoff with the authorities. The source of their rage? A belief that the police had chased these boys to their deaths.
It does not matter what has been written or said about the boys. But, as in the heart of Cardiff, this tragedy unfolded that sent shockwaves through the community and beyond. Full of life and promise, these young boys met a tragic end on a motorbike. Their untimely death wasn’t just a loss for their families but a spark that ignited a firestorm of anger and grief that swept through the streets of Cardiff. Their plight? A plea for honesty.
The police, however, stood firm in their denial. Instead, they presented a different narrative. They claimed to have arrived at the scene post-crash without prior interaction with the boys. But as the dust settled and the dawn of a new day broke, video clips began to surface online. These clips painted a different picture, one where the police were indeed in pursuit of the boys, albeit not directly at the time of the crash.
The truth was a puzzle with missing pieces; the community was left to assemble it.
Now, I’m not one to vilify the police. Growing up on Cathall Estate in East London, I was not a huge fan of the police for how they treated us. However, I learned early on that life isn’t always black and white. The police have a job to do, and sometimes, that job involves following young boys on an electric bike. If they zig, we tell them they should have zagged, and if the police zag, we tell them they should have zigged. It’s a thankless job, and I understand that.
But here’s where my plea for honesty comes in. The police, after initially denying any involvement, admitted to following the boys. Unfortunately, this admission came too late after the community’s trust was already broken. The issue isn’t whether the police were doing their job. The problem is the lie that was told.
This isn’t an isolated incident. We’ve seen it time and again, from Cardiff to Downing Street. Those in power, whether police or politicians have difficulty owning up to their actions. They’d instead weave a web of lies, hoping to escape unscathed. But the truth, as they say, always comes out. We all have skeletons, but just like the sun, constantly rising, shedding light on the darkness.
Take former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for instance. He’s been accused of lying about “Partygate“, insisting he did not intentionally mislead Parliament over gatherings during the lockdown. But the evidence suggests otherwise.
We live in a society that is quick to point fingers, fast to lay blame. But we’re all human. We all make mistakes. We all stumble and fall. And it’s high time we allowed those in power to do the same. To admit when they’ve erred, to learn from it, and to do better. To turn their mistakes into stepping stones, not stumbling blocks.
But for that to happen, honesty needs to be the first step. We must foster a culture where high office people can admit their mistakes without fear of immediate vilification. A culture where a plea for honesty isn’t just a plea but a demand. A requirement. A cornerstone of our society.
Because at the end of the day, our plea for honesty isn’t just about telling the truth. It’s about building trust, fostering understanding, and creating a society where, when tragedies like the one in Cardiff happen, we can grieve together, not apart. It’s about creating a culture where we can look at those in power and see not just authority figures but human beings capable of making mistakes and learning from them.
In a world where we’re quick to judge and slow to forgive, we must remember that honesty is a two-way street. It requires those in power to be transparent, but it also requires us, the public, to understand. To allow room for error, growth, for change. I read a great book by Matthew Syed called ‘Black Box Thinking’ which touches on this topic.
So, let’s start today. Let’s plea for honesty, not just in Cardiff or Downing Street, but everywhere. Let’s demand honesty from our leaders and offer understanding in return. Because when honesty becomes the norm, trust will follow. And with confidence comes a society that can face any challenge or tragedy together.