“The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason but with no morals” - Martin Luther King Jr
CORRUPTION IS A WORD that is thrown around a lot and most people are now impervious to it, allowing it to become a norm in our culture.
These last two months I have been grappling with situations that seem to want to overwhelm me and the quote by Martin Luther King has been playing on my mind as I try to understand the casual approach people take to matters that are morally wrong in our culture.
I am not a philosopher and will not probe the intricacies of morality and culture, but this one thing I do know: any time I know what I am doing will impact negatively on an individual or community or cause harm (even death), then my action (or inaction) is wrong regardless of the circumstances.
My knowledge holds me responsible for all my actions.
For morality to work and influence the Papua New Guinea culture it must be applied.
The sad thing is that although there is knowledge and reason in abundance there is a hesitation from the majority of the population to apply it to confront wrongs.
It is this dormant stance by the majority that is creating a culture of dangerous criminals.
When I contribute to compensation payments knowing that my clansman should be in jail for murder/rape/drunken tomfoolery - I am corruption
When I contribute to ridiculous bride price payments so that my clan can be seen as biklain yet knowing that by doing so I am contributing to the misery of the newlyweds for being in debt forever and under pressure from family obligations (even resulting in divorce) – I am corruption
When I stand by and watch a wife and mother being violently attacked by her husband and say "it’s a family problem" -- I am corruption
When I see my clansman paying off parents for their underage daughters and mutter about the “money hungry girl” and “stupid parents” but do nothing to deter it – I am corruption
When I know that proper sanitation practices save lives and health expenses but do not educate my fellow clansman - I am corruption
When I know that polygamous and promiscuous lifestyles abet drug and alcohol abuse in children but do not speak up against it - I am corruption
When I say I am an educated person or worse yet a Christian and then stand by and watch innocent women being accused, tortured and killed for sorcery – I am corruption
When I throw a coke can out of a vehicle, drop candy wrapping on the ground and spit betel nut filth everywhere – I am corruption
A lot of us use our “culture” as a crux to avoid uncomfortable confrontations or to achieve selfish ambitions and get away with matters that would be unacceptable or punishable elsewhere in the world.
We as a society cannot wait any longer for something to happen. Every individual has to be morally responsible.
It's the little things that count.
We all can do the little things; we must be men and women of courage – we must challenge our cultural norms, practices and worldviews that we can influence.
We must be willing to face the ridicule and scorn of our people and strangers- we must not only “walk against corruption” but rather trample it underfoot by disciplining the self to seek justice and live a life of integrity, only then can we truly move forward as a nation.
"Bad things happen when good people (think and talk but) do nothing."