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So, what will it take….?

By Emmanuel Abalo            Emmanuel_Abalo

In the last few days, a shameful indictment of corruption was handed down and it stained the national pride of the West African state of Liberia.

According to its Global Corruption Barometer for 2013, the anti-corruption non-profit organization Transparency International (TI) based in Berlin, key findings of its survey directly confirms the problem of corruption in Liberia. They are listed as follow:

1.. Bribery is widespread
2.. Public institutions entrusted t protect people suffer the worst levels of
bribery
3.. Government is not thought to be doing enough to hold the corrupt to account
4.. Personal connections are seen as corrupting the public administration
5.. The democratic pillars of society are viewed as corrupt
6.. Powerful groups rather than the public good are judged to be driving
government actions and
7.. People state that they are not ready to change the status quo

The key findings are direct response from Liberians and their personal experiences in dealing with the police, judiciary and influence of government decisions on their lives. Transparency International notes that “…96% of Liberians reported their Legislature was corrupt, also the most in the world.”

Emphasis is on “…the most in the world.”

The indictment of Liberia as one of the most corrupt countries in the world speaks to the pervasive nature of unwholesome practices in all spheres of the life of Liberians; personal, professional, institutional and governmental.

Local and international outrage, and stinging criticisms of the management of national affairs and personal responsibility have all gone unheeded.

Webster Merriam Dictionary defines corruption as:

1.. impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle
2.. inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means such as bribery and
3.. a departure from the original or from is pure or correct.

The answer to how Liberia arrived at this shameful designation doesn’t allow for a full treatment in this discussion, nor does the excuse that “we are just emerging from a devastating war” hold true any longer.

Moral Decay and Personal Responsibility

How do Liberians arrive at the decision to always do the right thing, all day, when confronted with making moral decisions? Aside from their religious influence, is there ever a mind-struggle to gravitate towards what is “right” or speak up for what is just?

The moral degradation of the Liberian society is not for lack of efforts of religious and strong national moral examples over time. The lack of personal moral compass translates into the excercise of the lack of morals and ethics in the family, in the community, society and national life. This argument holds true for what is happening in the Liberian society today.

The sad commentary is that high illiteracy, low educational capacity, extreme poverty and the acceptance of “living just for today” have turned the Liberian society into a mad dash to outwit each other by the use of crooked means in all sectors of life.

The development of character and moral exhibition in every facet of one’s life does not happen suddenly or without deliberate effort.

For example, a loose example can be made that if one develops the character of stealing sugar cubes as a child and no deliberate counsel is sought or offered to correct this habit, the individual will steal a warehouse of sugar bags when he/she is older and has the means of doing such.

A conservative approach is to offer that  the maintenance  and practice of personal and moral responsibility and some religious belief to one self and each other is the wellspring for developing character and a strong compass, which must be nurtured and encouraged as a way to blunt and mitigate the pervasive nature of moral decay and corruption in the Liberian society.

So, Liberians…what will it take to erase the designation of the country being one of the most corrupt nations on the face of the earth?

The American writer Mark Twain once said, “Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country. Let man label you as they may.
If you alone and the entire nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country – hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashames of.”

The author resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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