“Wherever an individual goes to dwell, his or her character goes with him or her.” – African proverb
Life happens, but it is made worse when we have to go through each day with an incredible amount of corruption and disregard for the future of our country. Not only does it nudge up our stress levels, it also reduces our lifespans. The amount of corrupt practices being perpetuated on a daily basis in our society, by our leaders and ourselves alike, shake the core of our humanity. It is as if we are strategically determined to destroy ourselves. Maybe we hate our nation so much we would rather destroy it than see it prosper. And we are doing so at speeds so astronomical that reasoning cannot find its feet in there.
Maybe we are not aware that corruption is really a form of self-sabotage. We often talk of it as being anti-social, but we do not take time to analyse the depth of destructiveness. It is a way of keeping ourselves away from the ideal that we all dream of. Any individual who engages in it is in effect saying our people and all of humanity does not deserve to be happy, and so they are chiselling at our foundation in order to break down whatever good we have built. It is a display of the wretchedness that festers in our hearts – that we would take all of humanity down with us into hell.
Many of us perceive taking a bribe, or giving jobs and contracts to friends instead of competent individuals as harmless acts. But think about it: how can an act be harmless when it prevents the greater majority from enjoying the good of a properly instituted amenity? How can you ignore the greater good and expect the lesser good to benefit the wider society?
You have been placed in a position to serve everybody, and then you decide you want to use that authority to cultivate gains for yourself and/or your cronies. In the process of nurturing your gain or that of your cronies, what do you think happens to the rest of the people? Do you assume they will automatically be enriched because you have made those gains?
Many of us do not even realise how corrupt we are – because we are so obsessed with living for our individual selves, we would readily destroy everything else to get what we assume is good for us. We have become like Gollum (Smeagol), the character in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ whose obsession with the ring deforms him. We have interiorized our self-absorption to the point where our ugliness is a thing of beauty. We are desperate to engage in any act that will bring us some benefit to the detriment of our society. And the sadder part is that we excuse our actions with the adage “power corrupts”.
Let us get this right: it is not fair to condemn power as the devil in disguise that tempts anyone who has it to do evil. As a matter of fact, power is a neutral energy. It cannot corrupt anyone; neither can it make anyone divine. Power’s aura rests on whoever wields it. When you give power to someone who is sneaky or a crook or a manipulator, he or she becomes more capable of doing openly all the appropriations, manipulations or all the sneaking he or she was already doing. In the same vein, if you give power to a good person, he or she becomes capable of doing more good. It is who we are that breeds corruption. Power only acts as the vehicle.
Is it not interesting that certain individuals always find a way around the ‘checks and balances’ within the system to still perpetuate corruption? Think about it; it takes a degree of wickedness to achieve that. Such individuals do not necessarily have a relationship with the wider society. They live in society, but do not live by the accepted societal principles.
Many of them will do anything to manipulate the public in order to keep certain impressions they have untarnished. The way and manner in which they esteem themselves is so shallow they need to project themselves as better than others. They cannot appreciate that a meaningful life entails embracing one’s self as he or she is, and working on becoming more divine instead of striving to project a larger-than-life personality for others to kow-tow to you.
Taking a cue from the morality taught by St. Augustine on love of self, we can confidently conclude that when you hate our society so much that you perpetuate acts of corruption against it, you are in effect displaying how much you hate yourself. This is because “the individual who loves him or herself and not our society does not actually love him or herself. And whoever loves the society and not him or herself, does in fact love him or herself”. It is probably not strange that many acts of corruption are undertaken by individuals with poor or lower self-esteem.
Corruption is about us ruining ourselves. We do not need anyone to come from anywhere to tell us we need to put a stop to it with all the urgency we can summon. It is a fight that must be undertaken to protect the progress we have made for our humanity. We cannot and should not allow the twisted imagery of self-love certain individuals have cultivated about themselves to cause so much suffering for the wider society. It is a great adversity; and we must fight it with the fierceness and determination that come from being human.
Kodwo Brumpon is a management consultant and a life coach who inspires individuals, groups and corporate bodies to think and feel that which is true, and helps them to 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@example.com