Saturday, August 11, 2007
Immorality: Our nation under siege
IN the dawn of the 21st century, one cannot help of globalization with all of its associated problems. Ghana is a metropolitan country and because the world has now become a global village, any country can invade ours through its music, culture, movies, the Internet and television programmes.
The Concise English dictionary defines immorality as “not conforming to accepted standards of morality”. And morality is “the concept of human ethics which pertains to matters of good and evil; also referred to as “right or wrong”.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines “morality” as a term that can be used either Descriptively, to refer to a code of conduct put forward by a society or some other group, such as a religion, or accepted by an individual for her own behaviour OR Normatively, to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.
Some observers hold that individuals have distinct sets of moral rules that they apply to different groups of people.
Group morality develops from shared concepts and beliefs and is often citified to regulate behaviour within a culture or community. Morality can also be seen as the collection of beliefs as to what constitutes a good life.
Immorality in Ghana: The issues
The problem of immorality is no more the preserve of the religious bodies. It requires the collective effort of the religious bodies including our traditional priest, chiefs and the heads of families; the recruitment of anthropologists and the state into the collection of national ethical data. Our various cultures and traditions hold in them all that is needed for ethical excellence.
The youth constitute about 60 per cent population and if care is not taken, all our moral and ethical values including our naming system will disappear in the next 10 years. Unconsciously, we are being brainwashed so much that we are phasing out the extended family system and happily embracing the nuclear system which is not so Ghanaian. This is one of the reasons why divorce is on the increase in our nation today and it is becoming fashionable (like in Western countries).
The alarming spate of homosexuality is staring us in the face and unfortunately, some of our citizens feel it is their human right to indulge in any activity they desire. The menace of homosexuality and lesbianism is becoming ubiquitous in our second cycle institutions and in our society itself, and our innocent children are being lured into such vices. We heard startling news on the airwaves recently that homosexuals wanted to hold a conference in Ghana and this caused a great uproar but like all other sensational news, this died down after a week. The whole nation is quiet once again as if not talking about it would make it go away.
We see most of our girls dress in ways that leave much to be desired when one is bold enough to prompt a girl to pull up her trouser because her underwear and/or beads are showing, she can look you directly in the eye and tell you, ‘I am aware.’ We all look on unconcerned not aware of the extent of harm this is causing until something happens and we all echo ‘this is not Ghanaian culture’. Yet, no one seems ready to take up the mantle to resolve it.
Making money has become an integral part of our daily lives and some members of our society go to any extent to fulfill that need. This is seen in the incidence of drug peddling among our adolescents, the youth and unfortunately some adults in high-ranking positions in society. Our females are not spared as some consciously choose to go into prostitution to make ends meet. President, this is one of the factors leading to the rise of HIV/AIDS cases in Ghana and we all know its repercussions. Are we waiting to have thousands of orphans as a result of HIV/AIDS as is happening in some parts of Africa before we start waking up?
In order to feel belonging, most of our children especially boys in schools succumb to drinking (booze) and smoking of cigarettes, Indian hemp popularly known as wee/weed among other hard drugs due to peer pressure. A young lad who refuses such pressures is labeled ‘colo’ (ancient), ‘antiso’ (meaning anti-social) etc. and his mates would do everything possible to make him unhappy especially if he tries to report such deeds.
Factors militating against morality
Influx and exposure to foreign media material: We are presently under cultural and moral invasion and the youth of this country have not been prepared to handle the onslaught. Israel for example, is surrounded by nations that are opposed to its existence. They are always prepared to repel attack. What immunity are we giving our youth?
Our media houses, in the name of modernity and making money, telecast soaps and movies that are not ‘Ghanaian ‘. A few years ago, foreign movies were shown late in the night, a time when most children are supposed to be sleeping, to help maintain the modesty of our children. Now, scenes of kissing and sex among others are seen on TV as early as 7p.m. The beautiful ‘Obra & TV Theatre’ programmes have become extinct.
Break in the family and community system
Gone are the days when a child born into a community belonged to the whole community and not its parents only. The community played a key role in the child’s upbringing and you hardly found children going astray.
Today, the so-called civilization forbids you to talk to or try to correct someone’s child. Our moral values have gone down so much that a little child can tell an adult not correct her, since he/she is not her parent. Some parents also go to the extent of beating up teachers in their schools for disciplining their children.
The Holy Bible advocates in Proverb 13:24 that “he that spareth his rod hateth his son: But he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes”. Discipline is necessary to guide and guard the child but care should be taken in its implementation. Unfortunately, the rod had been misused so often that it has become a taboo in many societies to mention its use. There is nothing wrong with using the rod except when it is misused. Careless driving resulting in accidents does not imply that we must stop driving and the same goes for the occasion’s misuse of the rod.
Morality deals with every area of life, including made of dressing, eating, walking, sex habits and greetings. It is quite clear that there is no uniform agreement on what constitutes morality.
It is important to note that the essence of morality is to create a community that works for the good of all. Religion provides some of these ethics; however, in a metropolitan community like the global village the world has become, we need a more collective agreement on what works for all. What works for Muslims may not necessarily work for Christians. For example, ‘Sharia’ laws are looked upon with scorn in Christian communities while Christian communities are regarded as the degenerating communities by Islamic communities due to their openness to pornography.
Most of our Christian churches are not helping the upsurge of immorality and the break in the family system in Ghana. Instead of empowering their members to be responsible for their actions, they brand their grandmothers, aunts, etc. as witches. This brings animosity in families and breaks the societal structure.
From the Human Rights Resource Centre: Human rights are those basic standards without which people cannot live in dignity. To violate someone’s human rights is to treat that person as though she/he were not a human being. What point should they be applied?
Many people tend to misunderstand and misapply the concept of Human Rights/Freedom.
As conscious people, the simple definition we would want to give is that “your freedom ends where someone else’s… begins.” For example, one can insist he lives in a free society and as such can choose to smoke anywhere. Another may also, in claiming her so-called rights, say, “I must not smell your fumes then. This therefore calls on us to act as responsible citizens and be prudent in our actions.
The answer to this canker eating into our nation lies with our traditional religions and ethnic values Puberty rites hold within them a body of moral codes, which, if embraced, may remedy sexual immoralities. If the moral values in the puberty rites, for example, are upheld and allowed to grow as part of our Christian, Islamic and other spiritual practices, the pride of virginity into marriage would have been protected, then early sex, teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and other STDs would not have been part of our social problems.
We need to be circumspect in what we allow to be shown on our screens especially the private stations, and the government needs to do something about this before it is too late.
I present you with a new definition of morality and it is, “Doing what honours you and your community”.
A way to moral uprightness is to ask yourself, “How is this action I am taking honoring and benefiting me and society as a whole?” An answer to this simple question would keep us all in check and bring about peace.
Morality has more to do with our emotional and mental upbringing. A mentally balanced individual grows his/her conscience that instinctively directs them to what is right or wrong in a given time or circumstance and motivates them to choose and do the right thing.
A greater focus should therefore be placed on the child’s mental development. This must primarily be based on giving the child a positive sell-value would want to do things that increase his/her value. How we grow a person with the right mental image is ignored worldwide and in some countries, it is virtually non-existent.
When you were three years old, you saw your parents as incomparable giants. Similarly, little things done to you that might have caused you pain has been exaggerated. You may then be growing up with a sense of ‘this world is unfair; people are cruel” and such a mental attitude will draw from you an equally hostile reaction to the world you live in and this is the birth of immorality.
It is important that children all the way to youth are given progressive programmes that wean them off their childhood thoughts. Here is an example: A youngster does something wrong and the parent scolds him/her with words. The youngster is hurt and reasons this way, “Even though I know what I have done is wrong, I don’t expect mummy/daddy to be this angry with me and call all of these words.” Obviously, the youth does not expect the parent to be hurt and react.
As a result of this scolding, and reacting to the words said, she may compute and conclude that “ I am not loved, no one cares about me, I am useless, I am of no value” Over time, this child grows with a accumulation of negative self-images and may embrace prostitution and drug abuse, for example. When she thinks she is of no value, then anything goes and immorality is born and bred into social mence. The cause of most sex traders is that somewhere in their lives, something happened to them that made them lose their sense of self-value. In the instance above, the youth needs to be taught to appreciate the effects of their action on their parents. To most youth, parents are parents and do not have feelings.
We can slow the pace of immorality if we create a platform that wins the child into youth and the youth into adulthood. Such a platform will help the individual to reconcile the exaggerated thoughts she had as a child to some of the painful things she might have experienced.
Fortunately, a model for this has been and is present in our traditional system as Puberty Rites. Unfortunately, this programme is largely ignored instead of being developed. My suggestion is SANKOFA.
I suggest a national campaign in which Ghanaians are encouraged to teach themselves what constitutes morality and are motivated to practice it. Deep within, everyone has the drive to outmatch themselves and the world they live in. When the youth are given such moral pictures of excellence, they will embody them excellently.
What we need in Ghana is the creation of a National Character. This should embody the moral and ethical codes of all tribes in the country into an ethical manual to be studied in school. This manual may then be embraced by the religious bodies in the country to form part of their youth training.
This nation needs clearly defined moral codes and it is about time we started its implementation.
Daily Graphic - Saturday, August 11, 2007 Page: 7 and 10