OPINION ‘Corruption is never bold; it is always subtle’

Saturday 28 November 2020 | Written by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne | Published in Editorials, Opinion


OPINION ‘Corruption is  never bold; it is always subtle’

We should never be silent when those in power abuse that power for their own benefit, writes Thomas Wynne.

“God helps those who helps themselves” – it’s a quote we often use, and applied to a sense of getting the job done and then God will help your efforts. Some think it is Biblical in its origins, but in fact it is a quote from famous Greek storyteller Aesop, the author of Aesop’s Fables.

This phrase is often used to highlight the need for people to take the initiative, with some attributing its origins to American politician Benjamin Franklin but the roots of this idea go all the way back to ancient Greece. The actual English version of this quote we use today was first penned by Algernon Sydney, an English politician who lived in the 1600s.

The idea that we must do all we can and exhaust all possibilities and then go to God for help is contrary to the “good news” Jesus afforded us. In fact, we are dependant first and surrendered wholly to a God that supplies our need and sustains us. It was Paul the Apostle who famously said: “But by the grace of God I am what I am”, so is it more that we are dependant and surrendered and, in that surrender, we find the strength, support and resource we need? Because self-sufficiency often leads to pride and pride to arrogance and arrogance well …we know how that ends.

It is this arrogance, that we can act and do without, that leads to the subtle forms of corruption that invade healthy democracies and turn them like rotten milk to curd and waste.

Corruption is never bold; it is always subtle. It is not seen as a brazen crime, instead, it is a subtle shift from what is true to a slight move to the left or the right that for all intents and purposes looks like a course true and steady. For anyone that has sailed the ocean, they know a slight variation in course will send you off course and you will miss your final destination, unless of course, your destination was never what was intended and spoken of.

Corruption is this subtle shift, it is the appearance of a true course but behind the scenes the compass has been changed by those given the responsibility to plot the course, be they family leaders, tribal leaders, local leaders or the leaders of our country, and deep down you just know something is very wrong.

It was again Greek author Aesop who said: “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office”, and German author Karl Kraus who said “corruption is worse than prostitution”. The latter may endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of an entire country.

Kofi Anan, former leader of the United Nations said, if corruption is a disease, then transparency is an essential part of its treatment. And yet we know corruption is done in the open, it is a charade of what looks true and transparent, and yet behind the scenes the deals are already done and the transparency is simply a cover for what has already been corrupted.

Nonetheless, we should never accept corrupt practice or sleight of hand as something to turn our face from and say nothing. We should never be silent when those in power abuse that power for their own benefit nor should we not ask the tough questions and expect a reasoned response as opposed to the name calling and belittling often served by those entrusted with public resource.

We don’t shoot the messenger, we incinerate them, publically ridicule them, castigate them on social media, mock them in halls of power, or just dismiss them by perverting process, and around tables seek to remove them from our country, or simply ignore them, hoping they will go away.

Corruption continues in our silence, in fact it is allowed in our silence, and why Aesop’s saying of “God helps them who helps themselves” is so dangerous. We should never just help ourselves, we should never work independently from our Creator for in doing so we damage our internal compass sending our Vaka off course and with it the hopes and dreams, aspirations of ourselves and our people and eventually run aground on the reef of arrogance and self-interest for all to see.