Eschewing moral values, ethics exacts a toll!
Foremost among the hallmarks of a civilized society is the possession of strong moral values and ethics. Such a society shows honor, compassion, solidarity, loyalty and love for all of human kind; it knows right from wrong and acts accordingly; it cherishes justice and equity but abhors ethnic, racial, religious, gender and cultural discriminations. It’s been said quite often that preceding generations of Ethiopians had high moral and ethical codes. Many now though deplore the erosion of these admirable values over the course of the country’s recent history. In particular citizens committed to give up everything for their beloved nation are vexed by this disconcerting development. The abysmal failings besetting the political, economic and social spheres threaten to leave behind a terrible legacy. The lack of appetite on the part of religious and educational institutions, the government and civil society, which bear the solemn duty of shaping the present generation, has exacerbated the problem. The burgeoning of challenges gravely imperiling the fate of the country needs to be tackled head on.
One of the areas impacting the day-to-day life of the public is the manner in which market transaction is undertaken. This vital activity is so prone to distortions that it is characterized by lawlessness. Although the way it is conducted ought to rest on a sensible interaction between consumers, the business community and the government, it’s blighted by moral decay. A not inconsiderable number of the business community engage in price gouging and thereby rake in astronomical profits due in part to the absence of legally sanctioned minimum sales prices and profit margins. To make matters worse they regularly dump shoddy products on the market, tamper with weighing and measuring instruments, sell adulterated and expired goods, create artificial shortage through hoarding, and dodge taxes. It’s sickening to see them lead a life of luxury even as they carry out these abominable acts against fellow citizens. If these practices are not nipped in the bud through the adoption and enforcement of the necessary legal regime the future will not bode well for everyone.
Though solidarity figures prominently among the values Ethiopians have long been be associated with, it’s being eroded day by day. The provision of support to vulnerable sections of the public should be laid on an institutional foundation lest it’s used for selfish ends. Unfortunately, the nouveau riche, who acquired wealth through questionable means, not only detest their less fortunate compatriots but also have no qualms about robbing them blind. Individuals engaged in commerce and other tradecrafts constantly scheme how to amass wealth at the expense of competitors and have no care in the world about prospering together. The principle of ethical business whereby each person gets the fruit of his labor has been abandoned by most in favor of amassing wealth through shortcuts. Rather than discharging one’s social responsibility by helping the needy they are bent on ruining everyone who stands in their way. In an utter rejection of the obligation to lead by example and promote social justice, advancing one’s self interest by whatever means necessary is considered to be the smart play. Such moral decay is a cause for alarm given it potentially jeopardizes the very survival of Ethiopia as a cohesive polity.
Forces bent on sowing anarchy with intent to further their evil agenda are fomenting conflicts in various parts of the country both directly and through proxies. The preferred tactic they employ towards this end is to incite the youth to violence by inflaming ethnic, religious and cultural differences. These elements spew the “us vs them” rhetoric to justify the slaughtering of defenseless people, vandalism, robbery and displacement; they toil day and night to erode the bond holding Ethiopian society together so that it is easier for them to peddle a divisive narrative aimed at weakening national unity; they impede the creation of a political space which affords an equal playing field for all actors; they nip in the bud efforts to create a responsible citizenry; and they have the propensity to wreak havoc because they are essentially undemocratic in nature.
Restoring moral and ethical values requires a concerted effort by all stakeholders. Moral decay destroys a nation and cripples its people. If the political elite do not forsake power mongering and adhere to the highest moral and ethical standards, it’s pointless to talk about democratization. If professionals erudite in the fields of finance and economy are unable to systematize Ethiopia’s trade and market regimes, it does not make sense to talk about growth. Cancerous elements within society have to be brought to heel through a firm enforcement of the rule of law. And individuals consumed with hatred, malice, vengeance, and deceitfulness must not be given the chance to endanger the nation’s unity. It’s the present generation which suffers the most when Ethiopians’ enduring values are deliberately undermined. Accordingly, anyone who has a responsibility towards the youth needs to give the utmost attention to identifying the underlying causes behind the deterioration of moral and ethical values and finding the solutions to them. The current state of things cannot and must not be allowed to continue. If the public starts to subscribe to the belief that the sword is mightier than the pen, Ethiopia will be in grave danger. The same will be true if anyone obliged to serve the public with integrity is solely driven by how he can enrich himself in the shortest possible time. Ethiopians would do well to understand that eschewing moral values and ethics exacts a toll.