We create environments and systems that institutionalize our beliefs and habits. When the environment and working systems become normalized, they may turn us into zombies who lose our active intelligence to initiate changes.
The structure and conditions of our daily environment may have a great influence on the weakness or strength of our moral muscles. How we react to a dishonest and morally threatening environment may reveal surprising things about us. An honest person who spends much energy overcoming irritating temptations of all sizes all day may eventually have their ego depleted through sheer attrition. Our ability to keep a positive view of ourselves in the midst of our dishonesty is one of the contradictory traits that shows up whenever we have any social advantage or power.
How does this happen? If we frequently reject obvious facts just because their recognition threatens our interests and privileges, or disturbs our conscience, our dissonance and dishonesty changes from willful denial to total blindness towards such ethical breaches. Over time, we construct a moral spectrum in order to lighten the gnawing weight of dishonesty upon our conscience. Within this spectrum, we clothe our dishonesty in fashionable rationalizations. We may silence loud voices in our environment that remind us of the need to be ethically fit. This allows us some space to be “insignificantly” dishonest to a level that will not disturb our self-image as honest or honorable people.
We apply this moral spectrum to thought, speech and language as well. We introduce and promote newspeak; a language designed by insecure governments to control and limit their people’s capability to think. This way, our malicious thoughts and lies are no longer dark, but rather bright shades of white. They may sound truthful in our ears and in that of our family and friends, especially if we are honorableand in charge of virgin forest lands and occupy some of the highest public offices in Umofia.
As the language of newspeak persists regardless of how despicable it makes us sound or appear, we gain doublethink and doublespeak proficiency, as in the case of our dearly abhorred president and his vice (pun intended).
A thief or politician who is not held back in their courage to steal, nor is bothered by the level and frequency of their theft and graft, is without doubt, sure of one thing: all the “thief-catching” institutions of state are run or headed by “fellow Ghanaians” working in a newspeak environment established in the various branches of their national thieving gang.
Normalizing an environment in which a national thieving gang can function legally, seem to have been the thrust of our constitutional democracy in worst Africa: almost all state institutions are headed by appointees with party affiliation.
In real terms, the institutional framework of democracy in West Africa is a corruption of its original concept caused by gaps in the constitution. This is an aberration compared to its definition by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
Wrestled from the hands of the people, democracy in our subregion is more of proxy constitutional dictatorships installed by big business and party financiers, fundamentalist religious groups, and other invisible forces, all of whom capture or bully the state to do their bidding. This manifests as government of the busy (political activists and foot soldiers), by the bossy (government managers) and for the bully(lobbying activists and invisible forces). The masses, mostly alienated, are used during electoral cycles of hope and despair that mislead our subregion further into worst Africa.
The exponential rise in public dissatisfaction and threats to regional security gets worse with the so-called peaceful transition between regimes. This transition is celebrated while in shocking irony, the league table of domestic terror by state sponsored vigilante groups, is equally topped by ruling political parties.
Where there haven’t been any major political upheavals or coups, it may be the case that a socioeconomic stability has been artificially achieved. This is done by an aggressive recruitment and renumeration of citizens into the corrupt partisan machinery of members and sympathizers. This smokescreen of peace and socioeconomic stability is often supported by regime facts and figures and statistics provided by government officials. The financing of impression entrepreneurs, i.e., paid voices such as serial callers, talk show hosts, the clergy, journalists and media houses, constitute the ever-widening sphere of politically incorrect influencers.
As this sphere of unholy influence grows, society makes adjustments in its tolerable and upper limit threshold for dishonesty and corruption. Yesterday’s secret deeds, concealed for fear of being seen as despicable become less reprehensible today. Criminal and outrageous schemes and underhand dealings are boldly announced or tabled as parliamentary motions, or ministerial and presidential projects or policy programs. These plunder-packages are backed by constitutional law which enable, normalize, and legitimize the takeover of state assets and resources.
The beneficiaries of this system pay lip service or show reluctance to amend the constitutional basis of their greed. Whatever their level of complicity, these beneficiaries operate with a sense of unconsciousness similar to secret arrangements some watchmen make with thieves to facilitate their entry and exit into homes. Some state watchmen, i.e., police and other security or sunshine policy agencies such as the OSP, CHRAJ etc., whose appointments emanate from party allegiance, often play their role in silent stupor or duplicity, that facilitate these plunders.
The constitution has gaps. How it has been framed fails to adequately capture the complexity of today’s social reality. Its sunshine polices are compromised by dark legal regimes that kill accountability at birth. When governments make accountability and truth-telling dangerous practices and the need for change, called for by citizens, is rendered nearly impossible, the status quo owes its stability to a false loyalty and security. Under such a system, people bid their time. They wait for the right opportunity to vent their intolerable truths.
As the intransigent players who preside over this subregional greed system get busy touting new patriotic partisan and national democratic congressional accolades, citizens who realize that our subregional democracy is a de facto coup against the welfare and spirit of our constitutions are harassed or vilified. Their efforts to break the constitutional gridlock that has installed a worst Africa in our subregion is seen as a threat to the plundering regime of state predators.
But like all complex social systems which are characterized by sudden moments of nonlinear chaos, the seismic gaps in our subregional fault are widening with the buildup of stress. May we not descend into hell through the cracks caused by any earthquake or “kukrudu” nor be overtaken by events as we childishly sour the heavens with wax wings while entertaining our complacencies with “Onaapo” songs.