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Opinions of Sunday, 3 July 2016

Columnist: Arthur Kennedy

Our public morals

I am reading a book by Jonathan Haidt titled "The Righteous Mind" on why good people are divided by politics and religion.

Along the way, I have been reflecting on the tone of our public discourse, violence and corruption in our society.

He defines moral systems as "interlocking sets of values, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions, technologies and evolved psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate self-interest and make co-operative societies possible".

Elsewhere, he cites conclusive studies that show that religious people are more honest, more generous, more public - spirited etc.

Increasingly, over the last few years, we are witnessing more corruption, more violence and more insults and confrontation in our public affairs.

If religious people are more honest and kinder, why is corruption increasing even as the number of churches and mosques rise in Ghana?

Why are we getting more cruel when talking about one another, as we showed in "Wikileaks" and we do on air daily?

Why are we blatantly more loyal to our parties than our country?

We are witnessing corruption or the appearance of it everywhere, including the judiciary.

There is violence coupled with impunity everywhere.

There are insults on our public airways that make us ashamed, just to listen.
And there appears to be a pervasive lack of people or institutions with authority who can say "Enough already" and be listened to.

An MP is slapped and party leaders commend the slapper!!

A President is accused of corruption and his party members blatantly ignore the facts and celebrate his incorruptibility with religious fervor!!

A woman is shamefully accused of selling her body for appointments and other women celebrate the accusations because the accuser is from their party!

Nobody appears willing or able to hold anybody to account.

We seem to have come to an unspoken agreement that we will undermine our public interest in the service of our selfish interest, be they personal, partisan or ethnic.

I ask in despair; Are there a few good men and women, for God's sake who will save this country?
Does the oath public office holders take have meaning anymore?

Do the words of our national anthem have meaning?

When we hear "Yen Ara yen asase ni", does it stir our souls?

My countrymen, I make this plea for the sake of our children. How do we expect our children to respect us when we celebrate young people who insult men of substance old enough to be their grandparents?

How do we expect our children to be hardworking professionals when we celebrate wealth without work?

How can we cultivate patriotism and nationalism when we celebrate gutless partisans and tribalists because they belong to our party?

Have a blessed day and think of the next generation rather than the next election.