Governance is driven by a society’s values, morals and culture.
Now, once upon a time this believer went to church and heard a sermon. The preacher stated that when it came to tithes and offerings, all money was “good.” He added that there was no difference between the thousands of dollars dropped into the pot by the criminal and the widow who struggled to pay her 10 percent to the church. In fact, from the preacher’s assertions, it was clear that as far as salvation is concerned “cash is king.” The poor were essentially an inconvenience.
At the sermon, two well-known and affluent businessmen sat in the very-important-person spot, and the whole affair was a “kiss-up” to the two men, who duly dropped hundreds of dollars into the pot. One of the two men was a very notorious character.
One of the paradoxes of religious societies in Africa and the Caribbean is the simple reality that the boom in churches and church building has done practically zero for social morality. In fact, it can be argued that religion has made these societies less moral and less honest.
The preceding example is pointer to the values in this and other societies. Religion today has nothing to do with morality: It is concerned with wealth and power. And religion has nothing to do with love, compassion and kindness, which are the backbone of the Christian faith.
On the other hand, societies that do not major on religion — a good example is Northern Europe — are far more prosperous, developed and wholesome. Why? These societies focus on science, technology and innovation and not religion and superstition.
In the VI
Recently in the Virgin Islands, two assertions were made by popular figures in the media. The first was that people in this community are not concerned with honesty and ethics as long as they get their share of the cake. The second was that as long as a politician delivers on getting residents their retaining wall and a scholarship for their child, he is on his way to election success, even if he is as crooked as a fish hook.
This writer has observed over the years that people love “scamps” in this territory. The colourful and dangerous drug dealer is a hero to the youth. The corrupt politician is a hero in his district as long as he delivers that local project and drops white envelopes about like confetti at election time.
The problem with societies that have no regard for morality and ethics is that in the end they end up as banana republics, with their residents suffering poverty and underdevelopment and migrating to jurisdictions where honest governance has delivered a good life, which honest governance usually does.
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