The Attitude Lounge by Kodwo Brumpon: Our Great Self-Deception


“What you help a child to love is more important than what you help him to learn.” – African Proverb

It is no secret that many of assume we are not evil because we do not directly partake in unethical activities. It is the reason, many of us, for too long, have taken solace in the belief that our hands remain unstained by the taint of corruption simply because we abstain from overtly unethical deeds.

We reassure ourselves with the notion that as long as we do not participate in acts of blatant wrongdoing, such as the giving or soliciting of bribes, the perpetration of violence, the betrayal of trust, the pulling down of others; we remain untouched by the darkness of corruption that lurks within our communities and society.

Many of us have cultured a virtuous façade around and about ourselves. And we strengthen this perception by regularly professing our religiosity. But beneath the veneer of our profession, and in the shadows of our conscience, lies the reality that dares to challenge our perceptions of our goodness or ethicality.

This is because contrary to popular opinion, evil, my dear friends, is not always draped in the cloak of wickedness; it does not always manifest itself in acts of overt badness. Rather, evil often wears the guise of complacency, of indifference, of silence. That is why your assurances of ‘being a person’ is as fragile as the delicate petals of a wilting flower.

Too many of us have deceived ourselves with the notion that our non-participation in corrupt practices absolves us of involvement, and our silence shields us from blame. But the reality is far more sobering.

For in turning a blind eye to injustice, in shrugging off our responsibility to speak out against wrongdoing, we become unwitting accomplices to the very evils we claim to abhor.

We may congratulate ourselves for refraining from engaging in corruption, but what of the silent acquiescence that allows such practices to flourish unchecked? What of the unspoken acceptance of a system rife with inequality and injustice? Our hands may remain clean, but our hearts bear the weight of complicity.

It is a self-deceiving attitude that is detrimental to the flourishing of society, that John Stuart Mill, the English utilitarian philosopher in his 1867 inaugural address to the University of Andrews stated “Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion.

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.

He is not a good man who, without a protest, allows wrong to be committed in his name, and with the means which he helps to supply, because he will not trouble himself to use his mind on the subject.”

Maybe, you were ignorant of the great self-deception, and you really thought of yourself as good. The question then is, what have you done about the myriad of wrongdoing that plagues our humanity and the world? What practical steps have you ever taken regarding the exploitation of the vulnerable, the desecration of the environment, the perpetuation of systemic oppression, etc?

Are you truly blameless simply because you did not actively participate in those acts? The truth is that the evil in our world continues because you and many others, having cloaked yourselves in the ‘great-self-deception-of-righteousness’ have not spoken against wrongdoing and have not stood up for what is right and just. Your refusal to confront corrupt practices have inadvertently allow those acts to become accepted or normalized in society.

But it is not all lost. And such is the beauty of life. That each new moment, each new day, offers us that opportunity to start afresh and make life better. In this new day, the time has come for us to cast aside our illusions of innocence and confront the uncomfortable truth that lurks within us all.

Evil is not merely the absence of goodness; it is the perversion of it. We need to accept that it is our apathy that allows corruption and its cruelty to flourish, and it is our indifference, our turning of a blind eye to suffering, and our silence that continues to energise the injustices in our society.

The time is ripe for us to speak out against corruption and its oppression of creativity and our overall prosperity. It is time to stand up against injustices, no matter how insignificant it might seem, and to fight for a society where ethicality triumphs over corruption.

What we need to understand is that it is not going to be a walk in the park, neither will it be a one-off battle. It is a war against a century-old culture, or probably a much longer phase. That is why the war against the self-deception requires courage and focus.

First and foremost, it will be you fighting yourself, before you can stand up for anyone else. Thus, we must be ready to make sacrifices, but the reward is nothing less than the redemption of our hearts, souls and our society…


Kodwo Brumpon is a partner at Brumpon & Kobla Ltd, a forward-thinking Pan African management consultancy and social impact firm driven by data analytics, with a focus on understanding the extraordinary potential and needs of organisations and businesses to help them cultivate synergies, that catapults into their strategic growth, and certifies their sustainability.

Comments, suggestions, and requests for talks and training should be sent to him at kodwo@brumponand

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