I heart Jozi: In tough times our moral compasses tend to break

2011-04-13 12:26

It’s one thing to read news reports on how some rich business owners are now in bed with some upwardly mobile citizens or politicians. But it’s another thing to read that our government spent R70 billion on weapons I don’t foresee us using any time soon.

Instead, they could have built 1 891 schools, 7 000 police stations, 50 hospitals and 1.4 million RDP houses.

Corruption, mismanagement of funds and bribery is everywhere you look – from feeding schemes for impoverished school kids to the arms deal.

I often wonder how and when we let ourselves be led by such people.

On closer inspection, though, I begin to wonder just how different “these people” are from you and I.

To get back into the country, friends of mine had to pay Lesotho border officials in order to get the correct stamps that officials on the South African border said were not necessary.

I was angrier at the border officials, who seemed to be plotting get-rich-quick schemes than I was at my friends who had given in to their more illegal inclinations.

Another friend includes a bribe to metro police officers in his weekend budget.

And just this past weekend we found ourselves in that awkward conversation where the driver of our car was caught without her licence at a roadblock.

A conversation filled with long, uncomfortable silences after our very sincere apologies – with neither party wanting to initiate the bribe conversation but both willing to engage in it if needs be.

When times are tough and the crime seems rather victimless, our moral compasses tend to lose touch with true north.

So just how valid are our calls for new leadership, when some of us are guilty of the same crimes (on a much smaller scale, of course)?

And where does real moral regeneration begin, with the people’s leaders or the people themselves?

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