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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Columnist: Assam, Balemwo

Respect Our Elders and Our Leaders!

As Ghanaians growing up, discipline has always been the cornerstone of our lives. We revere our parents, we respect our elders, and we are always our brother’s keeper. These are the putative nature of our way of lives in every community stretching from Paga to Accra and from Elubo to Aflao. Our society highly frowns at lack of adherence to our ethic values.
In our communities and in the public, if anybody exhibits errant behaviour, you will be dealt with, in accordance to the enormity of your behaviour and you will be dragged to the appropriate authorities to face the comeuppance of your indiscipline.
At the school, if you’re an indiscipline pupil, the school will not be the best place for you because; you’ll be chastised at the least act of indiscipline and the whole school will treat you with contempt. The environment of the school will not be the appropriate place for your errant behaviour, as a result either you change or the school will be a living hell for you.
At all religious grounds, we were always advised to honour our parents that, thy days may be long on earth. At the churches and mosques Priest and Imams will pray for our leaders and will advise us to do same. Respecting our fathers including our leaders and praying for them is a divine obligation.
These are the character driven narratives that have shaped our lives as Ghanaians. Growing up from discipline environments have tremendously groomed our characters to the admiration of everybody who comes into contact with every Ghanaian in the world.
Our hospitality and the discipline of Ghanaians are admiringly palpable and have curved a good name for us everywhere we find ourselves. Every stranger who visits Ghana leaves the country with intense nostalgia of admiration of our hospitality, our values and our rich culture.
But of late it seems some of us are drifting away from the discipline that has won us respect and admiration globally. We have suddenly developed insatiable appetite for insulting people including the likes of our fathers and our leaders.
No topic or comment will be raised in the media by our leaders without somebody being insolent. We must put a stop to this culture of impudence because; there are consequences for all that we do in our lives. You cannot insult people of your father’s age and expect peace and progress in your lives. Can’t we discuss issues, topics or a statement without insulting people?
I remember recently Asantehene Nana Otumfuo Osie Tutu II made a statement with regard to prevailing trend in our political dispensation. It seems the statement did not please some people for that reason, tensions were high and sadly as usual invectives of direct insults were all over this noble personality.
He did not insult anybody; he was only laying bare his views with regard to the prevailing trend in our socio-political fabric. If you disagree with him that’s alright, If you question the motive for his statement and want additional clarification that’s alright, if you think there are some angles he should have covered that were omitted that’s alright but, you just don’t gleefully insult somebody of his stature simply because you’re hiding behind computers and phones.
Having said that, I want to be very clear, none of our leaders deserves insults. If we disagree with any of our leaders we can ask for clarification on matters that concern us but not through insults. A society that has no respect for our fathers, our leaders and our rulers means that society is drifting into social chaos.
We should always remember that, we are not going to always agree on everything we say or do, however we can disagree without being insolent with tons of invectives in whatever we do. We should be able to ratiocinate on issues without insults.
We have come to a stage where, people are now even competing over who has the highest shrill voice, with the most magnitude of ability to inflict pain with insults. There are times you listen or read some of the retorts in the media; your jaw just drop and you ask yourself is this really a Ghanaian? Sitting behind computers or behind telephones to insult people especially our fathers, our leaders or our rulers are unacceptable.
It’s very difficult to come across a statement from a leader or our political leaders without insults heaped on that person with impunity. Without dissecting the issues, we intend to just insult anybody we don’t share the same ideology. How do you feel if your father is insulted? You may also be a father or a leader some day in your lives, how will you feel if you’re denigrated or directly insulted?
When did we allow ourselves to descend so low in our social and political discourse? Because we are hiding behind computers and phones, we have suddenly forgotten all the courtesies and disciplines that have always guided and shaped our lives since time in memory to the admiration of the whole world?
We should all remember our leaders and the rulers are human beings just like me and you before they ascended those positions. There’s no way we are going to agree with their utterances all the time. That means, as much as they try their best, they will be fallible sometimes, they have their bad days and they are not perfect. For those reasons, anytime they say something we disagree, we can ratiocinate by pointing out how we agree or disagree about the issues or statements without insults.
No leader attains the position they find themselves without the consent of God for that reason, we should revere the positions they hold. Before we say or write something that will cause pain to somebody, we should cogitate whether we want same to be done to us? How will you feel if your children start insulting you because, you said something they disagree with? Please let’s be civil in responding to our elders and our leaders without insults, because it’s just not right.
This behaviour has prevented a lot of noble people, who cannot stand this insolent behaviour from entering politics simply because; they don’t want to be insulted by somebody hiding behind a telephone or a computer. Behaviour of this nature has stifled most people from saying anything even if it will do the country good.
It’s just not right and I think the priest, fathers and the Imams should seriously do something about this situation that has just suddenly surfaced in our socio-cultural politics.
Since the media houses are the conduit for the dissemination of information, they should endeavour to avoid antagonistic sensational headlines and double their efforts in preaching civility on the radio stations, on the television stations and in the newspapers. This insolent behaviour can easily lead society into social instability. If there’s no peace there will be no place for you to sell your newspapers to talk on the radios or on the televisions.
Please, everybody should endeavour to stay away from all the negativity that’s slowly creeping into our lives. If you have no idea of the results of intolerance, take a deep breath and cast your mind back to Rwanda, Serra Leone, Liberia and Kenya if you want to have the palpable feel of intolerance just take a stroll to the refugee camp at Budumburam in the Central region and you will understand how painful it is, to be compelled to live away from home. From there you will understand the price of bigotry.
United States of America is a successful great nation because of the tolerance of its citizenry. If you want to feel the positive results of tolerance come to the United States of America and you will see different people from different backgrounds yet everybody is tolerant for that reason America lead the world with ideas, innovation the list goes on.
President Obama visited Ghana not because of the bigotry some of us have just embraced. He visited Ghana because; we have successfully been able to tolerate each other in the face of intense, vigorous political competitions.
If we want to progress in our social and political dispensation, let’s tolerate each other, this will enable us live in peace to develop our beloved country Ghana. In all that we do, let’s be proud to sustain the discipline that has guided our lives since time in memory to the admiration of the whole world.
You don’t want to be hiding in a different country simply because you could not tolerate your fellow citizens. We cannot be hospitable to foreigners at the same time cannot be civil and tolerant to one another.
Democracy means we should together ratiocinate, to come out with the best for our people. Democracy does not mean we should be at each other’s throats with impudence. We can be able to solve our problems and move forward only if we are civil in the course of our deliberation, but not through intense personal insults and disrespect.
Balemwo Assam
Washington DC
balemwo@yahoo.co.uk