Our Culture of Respect and Value System

As the year 2018 gradually comes to an end and 2019 ready to step in, there are some key things that we need to review in our nation-state and in our personal lives as well. As it is the season of making new year resolutions and commitments, its well benign, if we can put this in our commitment list for 2019 and work assiduously towards it as different individuals.

More often than not, we are quick to point fingers at the government for failing at their duties and politicians for falling short on their promises. We are quick to lay the blame of any mishap on others and shelve the responsibility to do the right thing to others. But have we really sat down to consider our own role, responsibilities, and blame?

Let’s ask each other this question, as you read…take a pause and reflect on it, How often do you respect and value yourself?  Now this is not the self-respect we would think it is that we maintain our self-decorum and the likes and its not the value we think we are worth at our work place or for a job contract. It is the respect and value you place on yourself as an individual in the discharge of your civic duties and responsibilities. What do i mean you ask?

Let’s start from our road driving culture that we can readily relate to. How often have you gotten so angry at people who drive recklessly on the road, take one way or run the traffic light? That’s common you think? Are your papers complete? Is your car road worthy? Are your tires expired? Do you run the traffic light? Create a third lane on a two lane way to jump traffic? Whatever your answers would be, if you do all these, you have no respect for yourself and place no value on yourself. And by inference, you will not have value nor respect for other road users!! So when two parties, who have no value nor respect for themselves meet on the road, what do we have chaos in form of traffic jams!!! And who do we blame for it…the Government apparently for not doing well enough to police the road. But let’s ask ourselves this question, when i know two recalcitrant individuals who have no value nor self-respect are misbehaving in public, what do i to them? Treat them with respect and put them in their place? Or simple ignore them, shake my head and go about my business? The government does the latter. Ignore us in our disrespectful state and go about the so called business of governance.

The government disrespects us as individuals in a society when it fails to carry out its core functions of governance and responsibilities. And the government places no value on its citizens when they fail to provide social amenities and cares less about their welfare. So citizens disrespects the government by failing to abide by the laws governing the land, and the government in turn disrespects and places no value on her citizens because she sees they do neither value nor respect themselves as citizens!! A vicious cycle!! “If once you forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteemAbraham Lincoln.

Do we know the number of people that die daily in our country and we are inured to it? How many of us witness accidents that occur on our roads or any mishap anywhere and the first thing we do is to fetch our mobile phones to take pictures or record videos and gawk at the scene in morbid fascination? Or even just stare for a few minutes and drive off or walk away? But turn round and blame the emergency services for not turning up on time! Respect for the victims and the values placed on their lives right?? Those precious minutes of wiping out your phone to take pictures or even to stare could have been used to dial the emergency services, summoning them to help the victims!!!! It shows the premium value we place on lives in our nation! So why would the government want to rise to any citizen’s defense when maltreated or even killed in another country? Because right here, in our Nigerian state, we do not value human lives, we care less who dies as long as it does not affect anyone close to us nor dear to us…so why should the government value it as well whether within or without?? A vicious cycle!! “What we say has conversational value; what we do has true value for life.Debasish Mridha.

Another general election is coming up in 2019, and the polity is getting charged up with different vituperation, adulation, promises and counter-promises from politicians across the divide as to what ought to, should, would and will be done once elected into office. And the voters and non-voters are split down the middle as to who they will vote for and not vote for. The honest truth? We are not ready for the election and for change in our nation. What is the value we place on our electoral system? Do we hold the politicians and political leaders accountable for their actions and mis-actions? Do we place enough value on ourselves as electorates to challenge our elected officials on good governance…not on cyberspace but in town hall meetings, at proceedings, at constituency meetings and demand welfare policies that will benefit the nation at large and not the few? Are we respectable enough to say no to a demagogue of politicians and leaders who try to hoodwink us with palliative policies that is non-sustainable? Can we comfortably vet every candidate contesting as a candidate of valid intellectual substance and not stomach acumen? Do these political leaders place a respectable premium value on our contributions to the national discourse after election? Or are we just a four year fling? Do we value ourselves enough for these political leaders to know that its more than a cyclical 4 year canvassing for vote, but a year on year accountability project with the results shared every fourth year?? Because once we don’t value ourselves and respect ourselves…we would continue to be tools of leisure and pleasure in their hands….not valuable until needed, and cast aside disrespectfully once the use is over! ” A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.” James Freeman Clarke

“Courtesy is the one coin you can never have too much of or be stingy with.” John Wanamaker
Our sense of respect, value and courtesy as individuals must not be found wanting. We cannot clamour for a change in our nation when we are lacking in this in our personal closet. Its from our midst we form the corporations, the government, and the society. Not aliens or foreigners, but from our midst we elect and appoint people who will carry and re-enforce our shared interest and history. Our historical antecedents is what has kept us together so far, and it will only tear us apart if we forget where we are coming from and who we are as a nation. “People need history in order to know themselves, to build a sense of identity and pride, continuity, community, and hope for the future  Douglas Preston (The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story)

In 2019, let us re-write the narrative of our nation with true respect, love and value for each other. For its only then, will the drumbeats of war be silenced and the drumbeats of celebration resound!


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