DFP Column strip
DFP Column strip

Many of us in this nation lament the direction that our county is heading. Not only is the economy a weak one, lacking vibrancy, dynamism and resilience, but also the social cohesiveness of our people has been eroded and that takes away from our enjoyment of our country. Community spirit is down; volunteerism is down; curtesy is down; helpfulness is down; but disrespect is up; corruption is up; materialism is up; deceitfulness is up; and moral decadence is up.

The way of life that we cherished growing up, is not being experienced by our children and if we continue on that path, we will become a vile society. But there is hope that we can reverse the trend. It will take a government determined to lead the people to do the right things. Such a government must lead by example and the Dominica Freedom Party stand ready to do that.

It will take a people determined to rid themselves of bad government and a people willing to be introspective and willing to chat a different course. That is why over the last five articles we have been discussing the seven things that Mahatma Gandhi said would destroy humanity, namely - (1) Politics Without Principles; (2) Pleasure Without Conscience; (3) Wealth Without Work; (4) Knowledge Without Character; (5) Business Without Morality; (6) Science Without Humanity; and (7) Worship Without Faith.

We have been discussing these "seven deadly sins" because they so aptly explain what has been happening in our country. Saving our nation will require us to reverse the entrenchment of these social sins and instead promote positive values and cultures. So far, we have discussed in some details the sins of "Politics without Power" and "Wealth without Work" and in the last article we started discussing the sin of "Knowledge without Character". In this article we will continue to discuss "Knowledge without Character".

In the last article we noted that, simply put, character is the inner conviction that compels one to habitually do what is right. We further noted that when a society or individuals begin to ignore inner convictions that are based on good social values and instead are drawn toward selfish or nefarious pursuits that are fuelled by greed, fear, ego, a quest for pleasure, a thirst for power and control of others, then, character is lost, and the application of knowledge can become destructive. We further noted that selfish or nefarious pursuits can be a very powerful temptation and without a moral compass many are drawn into its web and that the moral compass is increasingly lost when the competing wrong values are increasingly showcased by leadership and powerful groups. In time, good values are eroded and negative ones become increasingly commonplace.

Consider the behaviour of some of the people who have been placed in positions of authority in our country. The people who head our government ministries and government agencies, those who lead the police force, those who have been appointed to statutory boards and commissions established by law, among others in positions of authority and responsibility, are supposedly adequately qualified and experienced to do the jobs. Some persons function in technical positions within the government and many have university degrees.

Clearly, many of the government functionaries certainly have knowledge, but many do not exhibit good character. To some of these people, money and their positions (careers) mean much more to them than doing the right thing.

With dismay, I have listened to stories of how persons with technical expertise utilize such expertise to assist the ruling political regime to overprice construction contracts as a standard practice to defraud the State. I have heard of senior government officials deliberately securing inflated payments to service providers (on their own initiative) and then nudge these service providers to pay the excess amount back to the senior officer. These persons who engage in such practices exhibit a lack of character. They clearly ignore the inner voice to do the right thing. I wish to appeal to these persons is to consider how their actions are displeasing to God and harming the nation.

When such practices are widespread, they rub the people of a better life that could result if resources were applied to development and not stolen.

But the sad reality is that those who engage in such behaviour do not enjoy inner peace though they seem to revel in the adulation of others because of their positions or wealth. But they seem to be caught in a web that is destroying the nation. Beyond direct government functionaries, there are those who use their legal skills to protect the corrupt; those who use their theological skills to justify what is indefensible, among many examples. There are many who have simply turned a blind eye!

Let us turn a new leaf and save our country. Let us not ignore the many good social values that we were taught at home, church and school.

Kent Vital Political Leader Dominica Freedom Party.