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Opinions of Thursday, 27 December 2012

Columnist: Mawuena, Emmanuel Kwasi

Where Lies Truth And Objectivity?

It is mind-boggling to hear stories on scarcity during the Gold Coast era, where people had to queue for days to buy a common sugar among other basic commodities which ironically are begging for buyers in today’s market. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that there is a new twist to the story of scarcity. The new twist is that of values that are on the verge of extinction. These values include TRUTH AND OBJECTIVITY.
Exploring the shopping shelves in the market of human values today clearly reveals lack of truth and objectivity. Society has virtually eschewed objectivity and truth. While some believe there is only one truth, others think otherwise. The later is of the view that truth is relative hence ten people can give absolutely different account of the same thing and yet be said to be telling the truth. This is intriguing. In other words, everyone believes he/she is being objective and telling the truth. It follows suit that each perceives one other as liar. The result is that one can hardly agree not to trusts the other as everyone keeps to their own truth.
Issues are no longer discussed on merit of ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ but on the basis of where it is coming from and who is discussing it. Truth and objectivity have been exchanged for parochial personal and group affiliations interest. The end result is society losing at large. No one trusts his neighbor, people cannot trust their leaders, church members hardly trust their pastors, and Institutions cannot trust institutions. As for politicians and their parties, the least said about them the better.
The immediate past 2012 general elections present very interesting scenarios for consideration. The obvious issue of mistrust was clear prior to the election. The mistrust cut across political parties, parties and institutions such as electoral commission and the police service and even within political parties themselves. After the election, the referee declares the winner and one group strongly thinks it has been given a raw deal while the other accepts the verdict as a legitimate victory. Such issues are not so much of a surprise to many Ghanaians, as few expects objectivity and truth from politicians. However, the issue of grave concern is when civil society groups, institutions and intellectuals fail to stand for the truth and objectivity but instead descent into the realm of prejudice and partisanship paving a path of chaos as well as misinforming and confusing the public at best.
With the scarcity of truth and objectivity in society, civil society, institutions and statesmen are expected to be custodians of these rare commodities. But unfortunately, most appear to be in deficit of these values. This trend is worrying particularly with regards to civil society groups which have actually taken a path of bias, prejudice, and partisanship. Many civil society groups today are not doing society any good. These intellectuals who are supposed to inform society are either set up as partisan propaganda apparatus or have been reduced to one thereby exacerbating the already polarized society.
One other thing that startled me, in the recent elections, is the contradictory reports our statesmen gave the Benin President, Yayi Boni, when he paid a courtesy call on our two noble former Presidents in his capacity as the AU chairman. While one described the election as the most serene ever to have been held in the Country’s history, the other described the exercise as total flop and took a sharp swipe at the Electoral commission. Just imagine the state of the AU chairman’s confusion on hearing these two extreme stories from these two statesmen.
Like it or not, believe it or not this is the kind of society we live in today. Who should be trusted? Where lies credibility and objectivity? Who should the young ones look up to for leadership and role model? Many struggle to decipher issues in society. The society has become so polarized that the very truth is hard to see and at times rejected with contempt. George Orwell writes, “In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act”
The expectations of society from civil groups, institutions and statesmen are high and they cannot afford to fail us. On this note, I appeal to such groups and individuals to stand for the truth and national interest. The media must also perform their gate keeping role well. In addition, even though society at large appears to be having a far reaching impact on people, the role of the homes in shaping lives cannot be sidestepped. Confucius once said “The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home”. In light of the above, the home being the foundation of morals should aim at inculcating the right values in children not just by words but examples. In doing these things we can hope to mitigate this menace from engulfing society.

Emmanuel Kwasi Mawuena/Maame Gyamfuah