Tuesday, September 25, 2007
By The Editor
Tuesday September 25, 2007 [04:00]
We truly need a morally upright nation for meaningful development to take place. And no one can disagree with home affairs minister Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha on this observation. But this won’t come by itself; we have to work for it; we have to nurture it. We must always search for ways that are based on very high levels of morality to solve our problems rather than on ways that are expedient but with no moral basis, because before we even realise it, they corrupt us and contaminate us and our conscience.
And as we have stated before, virtue must be nourished but vice springs up spontaneously like weeds and grows by itself. We must bear that in mind. If we do otherwise, while nourishing virtue we are simultaneously paving way for vice.
There is no way crime in Matero will go away by itself. There is no way it will get down to zero without us doing anything about it other than just waiting for the power of God to deal with it. After all, we are constantly being reminded that God helps those who help themselves. If one doesn’t get down to the field to cultivate and plant seeds, no matter how he or she prays, there will be no crop to harvest. You reap where you sow.
Crime in Matero and other parts of our country has to be fought. And that’s why we have a retired general as our Minister of Home Affairs - to help us combat crime. Otherwise, all that we would need is a pastor at that ministry, and another one as Inspector General of Police. But we know things don’t work that way. Even the power of prayer doesn’t work that way.
Unless we critically grasp this fact, we will never understand how to solve our problems. An understanding of this dialectic and this sort of sub-determination will persuade us that a mechanistic view of social changes is no good.
Even a criminal in Matero is a man and any man wants to explain the reality around him. How can he? One might ask. What reasons can he find? How does his dulled brain conceive his wretched lot?
Normally, he will try to size up his situation. He will look for causes, the reasons for his condition, in things higher and more powerful than man. One such thing is God, whom he sees as the maker, the cause of his condition. Ah, but if God is responsible, man can do nothing.
Many Christians today, thanks be to God, are vigorously reacting against that attitude. But as children, we knew many priests or preachers who went out to the people, especially the poor, saying: “Be patient. This is God’s will. And anyway, it will earn you Heaven.”
Yet the truth of the matter is that we have to earn our heaven here and now, we ourselves. We have to build our heaven, to fashion it during our lifetime, right now. Salvation is something to achieve, not just to hope for. This latter thought of theology is such a passive one that we cannot stomach it.
How can we make God responsible for this calamity, for the crimes going on in Matero and in other parts of our country? As if absolute love would abandon man to constant victimisation and total destitution.
Whenever men make God responsible for intolerable situations, for crimes, then the dominating structures help to popularise that myth. If God is not the cause, they whisper, then destiny must be. Human reasoning at this level easily becomes fatalistic; it sits back and sighs: “Nothing can be done about it.” Sometimes another scapegoat is found, and it too is a myth spread by the dominating structure: the helplessness of the oppressed and the marginalised.
The dominated mind looks inward and decides that it’s totally unable to cope with its misery; it concludes that it is impotent.
For the critical mind, though, for the mind that conscientises itself, beyond this situation, there’s the future, what we must do, the thing we must create, the historical futurity we have to bring into being; and to do that, we must first change whatever it is that prevents the humanisation of our fellow humans.
The process of conscientisation leaves one with arms folded. It makes some unfold their arms. It leaves others with a guilty feeling, because conscientisation shows us that God wants us to act.
As we conscientise ourselves, we realise that our brothers who don’t eat, who don’t laugh, who don’t sing, who don’t love, the crushed and despised, are suffering all this because of some reality that is causing it.
It is very important for us to realise that peace in a community cannot be purchased, it is not for sale; it has to be lived. And we can’t live our peace without commitment to humans, and our commitment to them can’t exist without the final transformation of the structures that are dehuminising, that are turning them into animals, robbing and killing one another. There’s only one way to remove crime from our neighbourhoods: working shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow human beings.
Each of us has to give witness, and conscientisation is a summons to do that: to be new each day. Hence it is peace, and it enables us to understand others.
Crime has to be fought; it won’t go away by itself. Even God demonstrated this in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Crime has to be fought tenaciously.