Boakye Agyarko writes: Looking for our yes to be a yes, and our no, a no: Our standard of excellent model citizenship.
Not too long ago, I listened to the pained lamentations of some broadcast journalists/radio hosts about the degeneration Ghanaian society has gone through. In their view, our society has been fed a steady and poisonous diet of values that has made us both amoral and immoral.
Their example was a show centered on the character of the legendary Kwaku Ananse, who in this show, was the epitome of fraud and all manner of deceit. After a continuous diet of 20 years, it is no wonder that we have all become like Kwaku Ananse, they opined. A society bereft of endearing standard of virtue and excellence. Every human society must set for itself the elements that constitute a standard model of excellent citizenship worthy of emulation. Junzi is a Confucian model of human excellence. It is an honorable appellation given to noble spirited people, who seek continuously to live up to five core virtues. These virtues are, benevolence, wisdom and courage; righteousness, appropriateness and cherishment of stability; self-cultivation rather than contentions with others; trustworthiness, integrity, and refraining from what should not be done.
Judeo – Christian values and ethics captures the essence of excellent moral and model citizenship in the Ten Commandments and that which Christ Himself highlighted as loving your neighbor as yourself.
From the time of the Westphalian system to the dawn of the first World war, the world of service, excellence in leadership and the definition of the model citizen was bound in the ethic of “Noblesse Oblige”, as in the phrase, Privilege Entails Responsibility. The nobility of those feudal societies were under obligation to render public service par excellence.
In “Le Lys dans la Vallée” by Honoré de Balzac, he recommended certain standards of behavior to a young man, concluding, “Everything I have just told you can be summarized by an old word: noblesse Oblige! (Nobility obligates). Here was the essence of excellent moral citizenship for those feudal societies.
Our traditional societies had their own emblematic standards of excellent citizenship, which sifted out the men and women of excellent citizenship to be held in high regard and as examples to the rest of the society to emulate. These standards were derived from and based upon intrinsic, time-tested values and mores of society. They easily included character traits such as acting with due restrain on one’s impulses; due regard for rights of others, and a reasonable concern for distant consequences. There could be many more.
When societies are blessed with peaceful times and indulge the slow corruption of standards, the people may follow “either a man who is judged to be good by common self-deception or someone put forward by men who are more likely to desire special favours than the common good. Under the impact of adverse times, this deception is revealed, and out of necessity the people turn to those who in tranquil times were almost forgotten. These grave conditions must provide the impetus for societies to insist on meaningful leadership” (Niccolò Machiavelli)
There is no denying the fact that we have suffered a serious erosion of basic and core values that is now making us look like a rudderless society in deep distress. In our current unpleasant circumstances, my open invitation to all of us is to participate in an honest discussion of what should be the core elements that should constitute the standard of excellent citizenship worthy of emulation and collectively upholding them.