Politics ought to be Good
“When you push an old woman, where she falls should not be your headache.” – Akan proverb
My first lesson in politics was delivered by my dad, who impressed upon me the importance of public service; that some individuals out of a desire to lift up their ‘kinsmen’, their ‘countrymen’, could put aside their personal aspirations and work for the good of their communities and nation. His message was sanctified by the catechist when he taught us “service to mankind is service to God”. With that, the “it is an honour to serve” philosophy was nailed into my thoughts – and my heart embraced it as its northern star.
Such was my admiration for public servants and public office holders till I witnessed the 1981 coup d’état, which sought to cleanse our nation of corruption. It sparked my first state of confusion in life. How could those entrusted with the task of instilling good be so evil they had to be rooted out? Neither my dad nor the catechist had answers for me. In that confused state, my dad attempted to encourage me: “You’ve got to be good and do good, no matter what”. With hindsight, I am so grateful he strived to protect my innocence. I now appreciate why his lessons switched into the ethics mode and the instructions that followed – be honest, appreciate life without making comparisons, stand up for what is good and right, help anyone in need, and never let anyone put you down.
Frankly, I haven’t lived ideally as my dad espoused, but his words “the choices we make create the world we live in” have always stuck with me. And those words ring true as I contemplate the state of our politics. Too often, too many among us lament about the ills in our politics. We complain so much about the foulness we have invoked a chorus out of it: “the politician is corrupt, but if he isn’t caught, don’t interrupt”.
Maybe they are right, maybe they are not. But with our backs pressed against the wall, how many of us have reflected on the choices we have made which have allowed the breed of politicians and the kind of politics we have to proliferate. How many of us can tell God that we did our best by analysing the manifestoes, in relation to the good of our nation, before voting for our preferred candidates? How many of us have encouraged or supported ‘good’ individuals to run for public office?
Yes, our politics might not be the best and many of us are not proud of it. But what is the point of being dissatisfied with something and holding tightly onto it? If history has taught us anything about politics anywhere, it’s that it is a vehicle totally clueless about its destination until the commuters, through their actions and inactions, inform the driver where to go. So, politics in its essence is neither good nor bad. The form it takes in any nation mirrors the attitudes of the people. And you play a pivotal role in our politics. If our politics is bad, it is because it mirrors our culture. As a people, we love to duel on the petty surface facts while all the time ignoring the deepest strata of our reality; so that we do not care about the dignity of our neighbour and the ‘flourishing’ of our nation. Is it surprising we attack personalities instead of scrutinising their proposed policies?
Let us always be aware that the politicians are fewer than the populace. If truly they were the ones who are corrupt, we would have run them out of town long ago. As it is said, the ‘powerful’ everywhere are always fewer than those they hold power over; but the tragedy of supporting them despite their antics is what enables them to remain untouchable. If we truly want our politicians to act right, they will. But no, we lend them our blind support. It is all we have done throughout this ‘fourth republic’. We have been playing polarisation politics.
Do we want to see our nation develop or do we merely want to smile that our ‘family and friends’ are in power? We have all it takes to ‘make our nation great and strong’: we have all the human and natural resources, yet we have deliberately and willingly lulled ourselves into polarised politics under the influence of ‘I-like-this-party versus I-don’t-like-that-party.’
And we knowingly defend the personalities on our side even when the attitudes they display and policies they propagate undermine our nation and our race. Sadly, the ones who switch sides for ethical reasons are quite small. For Christ’s sake, this is the twenty-first century, not the Middle Ages. It is the Age of Enlightenment, not the Age of Emotions. Why is your decision-making model based on your emotions? If you care to know, such an attitude is harmful to yourself and to everyone else.
We must understand that despite the best intentions ‘our family and friends’ in politics may have, we have a godly duty to thoroughly scrutinise every policy they propose and ensure it is for the greater good of our country and in the interests of our nation before we support them. Give anything less than your best scrutiny and you will be contributing to the impoverishment of ‘your neighbour’. If as individuals we won’t confront the contemporary realities of discrimination, defamation and other injustice against our countrymen and women, then we are encouraging the oppressors to continue doing damage to our human experience. You have a divine duty to speak up against injustice of any form, even when everyone is seeking asylum in silence.
As Ursula K. Le Guin once asserted: “We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom. We cannot demand that anyone try to attain justice and freedom who has not had a chance to imagine them as attainable”. If you cannot imagine that politics can be good and ought to be good, then we cannot enjoy good politics. If we keep encouraging and supporting the election into public office of selfish individuals (irrespective of their intellectual abilities), what good do we suppose will come out of the policies they pursue?
For too long, we have collectively promoted bad politicking – and we have done so effectively enough. We have been collaborators with the foulness of our politics. And for the many lives lost and the many souls exploited and impoverished, we must hold ourselves as accomplices because our actions and inactions ensured their demise and deterioration.
To make amends for our mistake, we need to re-imagine and re-create our body politics. And the time to do it is now. Our politicians have started flattering us to get our votes. They are employing insults, defamation and concocting negative stories about their opponents to make them look bad so we can side with them. They will be making promises that resemble heaven on earth while lavishing gifts on us. Why they do not spend those monies to provide for our basic amenities, only God can judge. But until He does, you have the power to demand that politics ought to be good. You have a duty to encourage the rise of good people in our politics.
When human dignity is endangered, our associations and affiliations are meaningless. In fact, when we continue to embrace them we hearten the perpetrators to continue. We embraced democracy as an attempt to lift ourselves out of poverty and dignify our race. At its core, our stance was a protest against social and economic exploitation of the majority by the few. It has been two decades and some years, and we are witnessing a practice of politics that impoverishes the minds, hearts and souls of a generation. There is so much suffering crying out for your attention. You can help stop it or you can let it continue, the ball is in your court. But understand that your vote is not for you alone but for every citizen of our country, both present and the unborn. If you demand good politics that seeks the thriving of our nation, we will have it. You hold the key to that…
Kodwo Brumpon is an author, a life coach and a philanthropist who inspires individuals, groups and organisations to think and feel that which is true by helping them positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions.
Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]