In Britain they are about to change Prime Minister, Tony Blair will be succeeded on Wednesday by his long-time lieutenant, Gordon Brown.
The new Prime Minister could do worse than to hang on the wall of Number 10 words from the Rule of Mochutu written by a Ninth Century monk from Lismore in Co Waterford.
Mochutu gives the following instructions to rulers:
“Be skilful in ruling, avoid falsehood, it is the Lord who ordained you. Be steady, truthful learned in judgement heedful of the Lord. If you do not fulfil His will you will be deprived of His kingdom and be punished. Your principal danger lies in deceit and falsehood since it destroys peace between all peoples, and causes suffering and calamity even in crops like corn, milk and fruit. Kings are responsible for dire plagues, storms, monsters and multiple diseases. They are also responsible for losing land when defeated in battle. If a king is false, fruits do not ripen, storms kill them. He destroys tribes and families up to the ninth generation. He is responsible for their sins as a result of his falseness (bad example?). But if he loves truth and exalts the good he will be long-lived and happy. If he is gentle and merciful to the miserable, if he is humble and patient, heaven will be his reward. He must shun pride in whatever good he may possess and (remember) that he cannot add a single day to his lifespan. He should avoid all evil especially greed. Let him allow mercy and truth reign and his rule will be all the longer and heaven will be his reward.”
The good or the harm of the whole community hangs on the choices made by the leader, a sobering thought for his citizens and a cause for prayer by Christians.