As we understand, corruption is an evil which can cause harm to anyone of us irrespective of our caste, creed or colour. But this evil is emerging up as a part of our life. We do not usually resist it. To discourage this ugly practice, to ensure complete transformation, we will have to decide to change our attitude. How can we change our attitude? We will have to decide this too.
Unless this decision comes from within the depths of one’s being, true transformation is impossible. This is borne out by Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, according to which moral conduct is based on the choice that we make when faced with a dilemma. This theory classifies conduct based on avoidance of punishment and deference to power at the lowest rung of moral development, called the ‘pre-conventional level’. The highest rung is called the ‘universal and ethical principle orientation’ where right is defined by the decision of conscience in accord with self-chosen ethical principles appealing to logical comprehensiveness, universality and consistency. These principles are abstract and ethical and are not concrete moral rules like the Ten Commandments. Essentially, these are universal principles of justice, of the equality of human rights, and of respect for the dignity of human beings as individual persons. This level of making choices may be achieved only after one does some serious and honest soul-searching. Let’s do just that.
First of all, you and I need to get off our moral high horses and shake off the complacence that comes with dispassionate discussion or, in other words, pointing fingers at others. Let’s face it, that’s what we have been doing for the past 3,000 odd words since matter begins in this blog. We have examined society and people, but what about our own selves? For every finger that we have pointed at politicians or bureaucrats or the government (or some clerk in a certain office counting soiled currency notes), four fingers have pointed right back at us. It is time to turn the light, and the microscope, inwards.
We might begin by asking ourselves: Am I incorruptible? If an opportunity comes my way, would I desist? It is easy to be a person of steadfast integrity until a temptation presents itself. What if… will I… may be… only if nobody got to know… only if I needed the money for something urgent… only if it were a life-and-death matter… Carry on.
Some of the answers might surprise you for you may not really be who you think you are. I, for one, discovered that although I might be impervious to the lure of lucre, I would not be averse to bribing my way through for a driving license. And this, when I believe both the giver and taker of the bribe to be equally guilty of corruption. Another young person who claimed a absolutely impeccable moral standards admitted to giving up a ‘tip’ to a clerk at a land records office.
Getting rid of the kind of hypocrisy that keeps us from judging ourselves of what we believe to be incorrect in others may perhaps change the mindsets that let corruption fester. Corruption comes up due to many reasons. Sometime, fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it. Corruption is induced by desire, is deviation from the right path in pursuit of bribes or for the sake of those one loves. Corruption can ask you to the wrong path to spite those against whom one bears ill will. Corruption can be as aberration due to ignorance. But perhaps the worst of the four is fear, for not only does, fear, stifle and slowly destroy all sense of right and wrong, it so often lies at the root of the other three kinds of corruption. When not the result of sheer avarice, can be caused by fear of want or fear of losing the goodwill of those one loves, so fear of being surpassed, humiliated or injured in some way can provide the impetus for ill will. And it would be difficult to dispel ignorance unless there is freedom to pursue the truth unfettered by fear. With so close a relationship between fear and corruption it is little wonder that in any society where fear is rife corruption in all forms becomes deeply entrenched.
Dissatisfaction with economic hardships has been seen as the chief cause of the corruption. It is true that years of incoherent policies, inept official measures, burgeoning inflation and falling real income had turned us into an economic shambles. But it was more than the difficulties of eking out a barely acceptable standard of living that had eroded the patience of a traditionally good-natured, quiescent people – it was also the humiliation of a way of life disfigured by corruption.
The effort necessary to remain uncorrupted in an environment where fear is an integral part of everyday existence is not immediately apparent to those fortunate enough to live in states governed by the rule of law. Just laws do not merely prevent corruption by meting out impartial punishment to offenders. They also help to create a society in which people can fulfill the basic requirements necessary for the preservation of human dignity without recourse to corrupt practices. Where there are no such laws, the burden of upholding the principles of justice and common decency falls on the ordinary people. It is the cumulative effect on their sustained effort and steady endurance which will change a nation where reason and conscience are warped by fear into one where legal rules exist to promote man’s desire for harmony and justice while restraining the less desirable destructive traits in his nature.
There has to be a united determination to persevere in the struggle, to make sacrifices in the name of enduring truths, to resist the corrupting influences of desire, ill will, ignorance and fear.
Saints, it has been said, are the sinners who go on trying. So free men are the oppressed who go on trying and who in the process make themselves fit to bear the responsibilities and to uphold the disciplines which will maintain a free society. Among the basic freedoms to which men aspire that their lives might be full and uncramped, freedom from fear stands out as both a means and an end. A people who would build a nation in which strong, democratic institutions are firmly established as a guarantee against state-induced power must first learn to liberate their own minds from apathy, fear and corruption.
We need to learn how to eliminate the corruption in our life, public life and in our practices o ensure a happy life.
Be Happy – Discourage Corruption.