Ethics, Morals, and Values

This year, my alma mater St Mary’s College celebrates its sesquicentennial or its 150th anniversary.  The committee has been working hard on a series of events to mark this historic occasion, and I am disappointed that I would not participate.  The Holy Ghost Fathers (also known as Spiritans in Continental Europe) have contributed immeasurably to Trinidad and Tobago’s education.  Many sometimes forget that after establishing St. Mary’s College in 1863, the Holy Ghost Fathers went on to establish two other Colleges –  Fatima in 1945 and St. Anthony was in 1972

As part of the celebrations, President George Maxwell Richards addressed St Mary’s issues of Ethics, Morals, and Values. According to press reports, it was a most insightful lecture.  The President is said to have remarked to students that “Corruption is not new in this world, but within recent times, floodgates have opened and there are sadly, too many instances of betrayal of trust!”  He went on to say that because of corruption and betrayal of trust, “ordinary and hard-working people have lost their life savings to the greed of unscrupulous persons” in the country.

Even in neighboring Guyana, an editorial noted that in the Trinidad and Tobago press, one observes just one instance of corruption after another.  Unfortunately, even neighboring Caribbean nations have noticed the never-ending series of missteps by members of the political elite.  None but the most blinkered apologist for the UNC administration would disagree with President Richards.  In keeping with his theme of ethics, morals, and values, Richards was right to point out that “it seems to me that, more than ever, these three pillars are under heavy siege.”

Despite campaigning for ‘new politics’ and ‘transparency,’ the present administration seems to be riddled with scandals.  From Reshmi-gate in Trinidad to the beautiful mansion said to have been paid for by Tobago’s pumpkins.  All this while we patiently await the promised publication of the Airport Enquiry findings or the promised implementation of the recommendations of the Uff Enquiry.  Campaign promises long forgotten as today’s missteps set the stage for the Commissions of Enquiry of tomorrow.

Do not get me wrong. I am by no means implying that previous administrations were exemplars of ethics, morals, and values.  Rather, this administration seems to be more misstep-prone than previous ones. The unprecedented act of political ‘perversion’ (to borrow a phrase from a fellow columnist) exemplified by Section 34 assures this administration a prominent place in the history books.

Despite the lack of promised transparency, I still feel positive.  Why?  I feel positive because, in 2012, tens of thousands of people (or 6-7 people if we believe the devoted apologists for the present administration) for the first time protested against political perversion and alleged corruption.  In the process, the administration upset the world’s superpower as a fortunate, although unintended consequence.  I say fortunate because while local justice can be outmaneuvered, the US will definitely not give up that easily to be assured that justice will eventually be served.

But the more important development is truly the rising consciousness of the people.  The increasing realization that corruption is not a victimless crime; it retards a nation’s development.  When those in positions of trust abuse this trust for themselves, their families, their friends, or their financiers, it affects the wider society.  Corruption means less money for schools, money diverted from medicine in hospitals, or fewer law enforcement resources to carry their duties. USA Tax Singapore

It is carnival time when many get lost in the merry monarch’s distractions, but this year seems a bit different.  Perhaps we also have the THA elections to thank, but it is the perfect time for voters to remember that in a democracy, citizens always get the government they deserve

In his speech, President Richards noted that no country could function without laws to keep people in line, “but laws do not make us who we are.”  The President explained that “The threat of sanction should not be our inspiration to do right. Doing right should be the norm even when no one is watching”.  As the citizens’ consciousness continues to grow, I do not doubt that it is just a matter of time before the elected government genuinely reflects these principles.

The President concluded by reminding everyone that St Mary’s College has given to the country and other countries where past students live, quality of life borne out of a tradition of excellence.  Despite our current challenges, I continue to have the audacity of hope that we will all enjoy a brighter tomorrow.

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Table of Contents: Ethics, Morals, and Values

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