DON’T BLAME THE SYSTEM; YOU’RE PART OF IT


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Illustration: Joe Ngari, Daily Nation

Last week was a sad time for all of us. The Kenya Youth Survey Report stated that evils such as corruption and lack of integrity have struck our youths like a thunderbolt. Our youths, as it turns out, are malignant, uncouth, morally corrupt and, get this, cursed.

In case you missed my column last week in which I blew raspberry at my comrades, let me recount the shocking findings in the report. (Read: IN LOVING MEMORY OF INTEGRITY) Half of my comrades wouldn’t mind participating in corruption, as long as it makes them rich.

Forty-seven per cent admired and drooled over individuals who made their money using crooked means while many more would vote for a politician who bribed them.

After last week’s piece, I received a flood of emails from my comrades. Some of were delicious of insults pertaining to the region below my belt, while almost all of them branded me a hypocrite who doesn’t know how things function in Kenya. “You’re still a novice. When you grow up, you’ll become just as corrupt as the rest of them,” one reader wrote.

They claimed to be intrinsically blameless, saints at heart. It’s just that the system in Kenya is so corrupt that it twists their arm into amoral character, they said. “We are a feral nation whose system runs on corruption; you either join the flow or be condemned to poverty,” another reader said. (Read: LIKE WAIGURU, IT’S NEVER OUR FAULT).

Indeed, for the past six decades, our fathers have built a system laden with historical slights, ethnic transgressions and trivial vendettas among our leaders that are hard to overhaul in one go. I was tempted to buy into this  blame-the-system fiddle-faddle, but that was before I woke up my old man, Grandpa Richard, from his slumber and sought his views.

“The fault is in our system? That’s total balderdash!” The greybeard fumed. “When will your comrades ever learn to own up and shoulder their own blame?”

According to my old man, we all make up part of the system, therefore we are the system. Shifting the blame to the system is an exercise in futility as we’re pointing fingers right back at ourselves.

“In order to change the system, your comrades should consider changing their own actions first. Otherwise, if everybody keeps on blaming the system, the whole society will go down like water in a bathtub,” Grandpa says.

Every time you cheat in order to get an unfair advantage, you chip away a part of your soul. Eventually, you become a dead person walking: soulless. You find yourself in a position where you don’t even recognise yourself anymore.

And what is it that drives my comrades into such abominable lengths? I’d say it is unchecked ambition, though my old man would call it rapacious greed.

Ambition —no matter how burning — should never be allowed to chip away the pillars of our public good.

We should learn to choose our thoughts and actions based on values, rather than personal gain. Success doesn’t count unless you earn it fairly.

jowaljones

Jowal Jones is a columnist and correspondent with Kenya's leading newspaper, Daily Nation. He also dabbles in fiction works at times, hoping to be the next Stephen King. Sometimes he takes time out from writing to perfect his deer-dancing and goat-screaming skills.