The Moral Maze: Is It Better To Be Honest And Poor Or Dishonest And Rich?

Confused Black Woman



Injustices and dishonesty have pervaded the earth. Many people put in the helm of affairs grossly exhibit dishonesty to the extent people have come to accept it as a norm. Dishonesty and corruption are used interchangeably so for the purpose this article I will resort to both usage in a variable context.

The 2013 global corruption barometer, published by the Transparency International, reported that people worldwide have the perception that the five most corrupt institutions are political parities, the police, public officials, the legislature and the judiciary.

Dishonesty is flaunted conspicuously and is found every facet of life-in school, the church, market and virtually everywhere. And when such contaminated environments are created, honest or upright people tend to suffer.

Years ago a military ruler, ex President Jerry John Rawlings practically wiped market women in a brutal fashion because they duped unsuspecting public in purchasing substandard commodities. Others also hoard their merchandise only to sell it at incredible exorbitant prices when there was scarcity beyond the reach of the ordinary citizen.

That was when the popular Ghanaian phrase, ‘kalabule’ was coined. Market women, mix red palm oil with other materials to boost its quantity and bolster profits, among other debasing acts.  This deceit is not only perpetuated by market women. City officials are chronically addicted to this act. Approximately two years ago, Melcom, a very famous shopping mall collapsed and killed about four people whilst others sustain various degrees.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the builders used inferior materials to erect the edifice, while city authorities looked unconcerned. The conclusion was that evidently some of the officials have been bribed. In 1995 in Seoul, South Korea, 502 people died in department-store. Investigators found out that officials had been bribed to allow contractors to use substandard concrete and to violate safety rules.

Obviously the motivation factor for dishonesty or better still corruption is greed and self-interest. Poverty is also a contributory factor to this canker. To illustrate this, suppose you come across a bag stashed with wads of notes. Series of thought would race through your mind as to what to do with it. You may take it home stealthily and ponder over your next line of action. Meanwhile your wife will start giving praises to God for answering your prayers. She will go further to remind you of the several debts you owe, the kids’ school fees and the dilapidated abode you want to refurbish. Will you still go ahead and take the money to the police station or you will just keep and count it as a blessing? Tell me with all sincerity…

Empty heads resort to examination malfeasance varying from sneaking foreign papers to the exam hall or conniving with officials to gain undue advantage relative to the exam. Some brainy heads also toe the same line by relying heavily on ‘apor’ or exam leakages.

There was a time that I took ‘apor’ to the examination hall. I was so scared to even use it because it was simply not agreeable with my principles. I looked on sheepishly as my friends had a field day with theirs. Ethical minded people are subject to inherent imperfection because of the vicious cycle we ourselves have created. They compromise their integrity to fully fit to the unwholesome system we have established driven by greed, selfishness and self interest, as mentioned earlier.

In the preceding segment of my piece I mentioned that many people have the perception that political parties are the most corrupt of all institutions. Wondered why Africa is the richest continent yet the poorest? Corruption has eaten deep into our moral fibre.

Elections are held to change leaders who don’t meet our expectations. The hard truth is that, those eventual office holders are not those we want. Mass rigging and wealthy people influence the kind of leaders we should have—this has plagued people into an abyss of woes that become difficult to eradicate. News report says in 2013, some 22,000 public officials in South Africa were charged with misconduct for corrupt activities. Breathtaking happenings, isn’t it?

Do we still have honest people? There is no shred of doubt that there are few people out there whose integrity is securely intact. However because the human society in which they find themselves is full of corruption, I wonder how long they can “safeguard their guard.”


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