I love happy endings, be such in relationships, lessons or activities. I’ve been a student of the past one year, opening my heart, eyes and ears to every anecdote, word, idea, gesture and unaltered silence that came my way. From each of these I’ve learnt a lot, enough to prove the maxim that “some things in life are caught, not taught.” I’ve felt deep emotions about things and people and I’ve kept my eyes focused on seeing the beauty life has blessed me with. I’ve been worried about the sprawling poverty around – poverty of basic needs, of commitment to service and also poverty of values. I still remember the most popular axiom while growing up: “children are the leaders of tomorrow.” I took this literarily and reasoned that, if this must come true, one must weigh the consequences of each action as deeply as possible before deciding on a course of action. Now, what I hear is complaint from the elderly ones: “children of these days are too ambitious,” as though being ambitious makes one a misfit.
I write this post out of concern about the values that seem to be pervasive in our society, values that are worrisome and anti-developmental. I have been blessed to know and work with wonderful people with strong values, ideas, leadership potentials and love for humanity. In spite of this, I feel saddened when I come across an outstanding breach committed by a young person. It’s as if such has not generated enough anger against the disappointments of the elderly ones who have plundered our collective resources. When that happens, I know the person has been an unfortunate mentee. One fortunate thing in our world today is that it is suffused with positive mentors with commitment to values that are timeless and priceless. One unfortunate thing in our world today is that there is also copious supply of negative mentors. The difference then lies in the choices we make. Making the right choice is never an easy task. You have to constantly fight against yourself, and sometimes against a group you belong. The self-deceit lies in telling yourself you have to be better than someone else or meet a certain ideal set by someone else. In the race towards the Truth and the Best in human existence, we run against ourselves. Some choices bring about immediate consequences while others have deferred consequences. Positive choices are like deferred gratification, but they yield immediate peace and lasting reward.
Following on the heels of all that I’ve said above, it’s time to bring the illustrative case which informed this post. I recently came by a young man, under thirty, who lost an opportunity of an interesting career in one of the prime institutions in the country. He joined the organisation a few years back on a comfortable income and good working conditions, but decided to exploit the trust of his colleagues and got caught up in a series of fraudulent activities. He spent the yields from the fraudulent actions on “financial terrorism” – living ostentatious lifestyle, intimidating others and employing personal chauffeur under claims of being financed by his “wealthy parents.” When his cover was blown and investigators pored through the books and his background, he became an inmate of a police detention cell. As he confessed to the numerous frauds he committed, investigators wanted to know what moved him to such ignominious end. He admitted it was caused by greed and when he saw that he was trusted by his colleagues, he abused the trust.
As I watched his broken family struggle to come to terms with the son they thought they knew, it was clear his choices didn’t affect him only. The casualties were many; among them were his parents, siblings, pregnant wife, and most importantly, the expected child who might come forth from the womb to find the father in jail. I’ve been deeply saddened by this incident, trying to understand the weight of the greed that drove him. Was he ambitious? I can’t say. I would think ambition is guided by a well thought-out set of priorities, guided by values that engender their full realization. I’m wont to think this was a case of misplaced priorities. Unfortunately, he is not alone. I’ve heard and read about young people who have expressed readiness to seize similar opportunity and walk same path, with same choices. In most cases, they stop at the choices, not on the consequences, often rationalizing ethical dilemmas to avoid a feeling of cognitive dissonance. Even when the world is replete with stories of unwholesome consequences from bad choices, they rationalize themselves away as being smarter. It is the reasoning adopted by those who believe they can buy their freedom from the law, should they be caught. It’s a saddening reality.
In spite of the fact that in our country, we may have some bad people, be sickened by hate and divisions, squashed by poverty and hemmed in by corruption from all sides, our spirit can still aspire towards purity. It has been proven timelessly that the man who strives against greater opposition obtains greater victory. I’m thankful for those who have chosen to act wisely and with the consciousness that every negative act or thought breathes negative energy into our lives. They have taught us to believe in the best, work for the best and expect the best. I’m ending the year with a reinforced lesson: making the right choice brings about positive consequences in the short, medium and long term. Having watched how the mighty have fallen in spite of their wealth, making the right choices sure gives peace of mind. They keep the police away too; and when the police do come, they come for the right choices one has made. Making the right choice builds our mentoring integrity as well as a worthy heritage, solid and unassailable.