“If one imitates the upright, one becomes upright; if one imitates the crooked, one becomes crooked.” – Nigerian proverb
In an era when change is faster than light, it does not make sense to propose that we should revolutionise change. But in all honesty, that is what the world needs now. Just pause for a moment to observe the world around us and you will instantly realise almost everything is rotating off its axis. The upside has been turned downside and vice versa. We rose up against square pegs in round holes and instituted round pegs in square holes. We whined about incompetent employees and yet we run nepotism-based recruitment schemes. We complained about the downward spiral in the leadership abilities of those in power, and yet we replaced them with individuals demonstrating the same calibre of attributes and attitudes but wearing different colours.
Life will never stop mesmerising us, but we will never stop amusing life. We are quick to condemn evil and yet we set trends and fads that promote greed, pride, lust, anger, gluttony, sloth and envy. We do not see anything wrong with such policies and strategies when our favourite individuals and groups initiate and implement them, yet we will criticise even the dots and commas if the same policies and strategies are put on the table by some other persons. All you have to do is to think about how the ‘living well’ motivational concept is being packaged as the good news of salvation, and then you will realise we have dug a grave deeper than we anticipated.
What’s worse is that we only perceive problems as problems when they affect us personally; and challenges are only challenges when they have the potential to jeopardise our present luxury. Any other issue or event is insignificant. Unfortunately, a surprising majority of the people who can actually change this situation do not agree that things are so bad.
It is true that every once in a while they reluctantly accept some little things are not in their right places, but overall they are entirely satisfied with the swing of happenings. Ask how one can point out shadiness to a person whose allegiance is to unethicality. They are prone to think you are cracked and thoughtless. Craziness has become the norm and the norm has become crazy, and how dare you question it?
The sadder part of all this is – because we failed to question, resist and actually stomp out unethicality when it reared its head in the first place – the number of individuals and groups obeying its dictates now is very scary. Let us not forget that people are generally obedient to authority even when the authority is exploiting them. Amid this heartbreaking tale is a deeper horror story: one of lost ideals, misplaced morals and disgusting displays of pride and sexuality. It is a story that glorifies consumption and reduces the upholding of societal values to the discretion of an individual’s emotions and feelings. This is the story of our age, the Age of Information; where intellect is measured by how loud you sound, and wisdom by the span of one’s network.
How we have sunk so low is worrying because we fuelled it ourselves. We categorised unethical attitudes as absurd and churned out them as comedy. But the more we laughed at these absurd acts, the more we wanted to see them every day. And the more we wanted to see them, the more we saw them as normal – and hence its manifestations in reality. In our desire to entertain ourselves, we have given power to unethicality. We took the weight of it and made it light enough to rise to the top. Its buoyancy meant a dip in morals and the rise of unethicality. It has become the darling of the individual and plague of society.
The topsy-turvy modernity is the result of our striving to live well according to the ‘any means necessary’ approach. We ought to recognise this so that we can do something about it. The more we aspire, the more life gets significantly complicated – churning out predicaments to keep us nervy in our comfort zone. The state of today results from the tragic choices made yesterday.
But we need to unhinge the upheaval; we need to turn things around. We cannot walk on our heads and expect a fulfilling life. We cannot retreat into seclusion hoping that things will be fine by themselves. It is not only impracticable, but impossible. As always, we need to shake-off the challenges by learning from the mistakes made.
We do not need to say much, we need to turn our gaze from the externals into ourselves. It is within us that the revolution must begin and be felt before it extends to society. We only need to be notable for being ethical in small matters, which will gradually grow to eclipse the unethicality around us. We need to do a ‘sankofa’ and go back to the principles, aims and spirit of our humanity. We need to find substance in hard realities in order to make them noble. But more importantly, we must stop obeying unethicality. We must stop finding the comical dramatisation of immorality funny…
Kodwo Brumpon is a partner at Brumpon & Kobla Ltd., a forward-thinking Pan African management consultancy and social impact firm driven by data analytics – and with a focus on understanding the extraordinary potential and needs of organisations and businesses to help them cultivate synergy that catapults them into their strategic growth and certifies their sustainability.
Comments, suggestions and requests for talks and training should be sent to him at kodwo@brumponand kobla.com