By Muhammad Muawiya Alkali
Never in human history has a population so willfully and deliberately contravened moral excellence as has the present generation; individuals are expected to adapt and conform with moral principles and social convention which are unwritten rules, norms and values governing our behaviors.
Morality is concern with the distinction between right and wrong, good and evil or principles and motivation based on ideas of right and wrong.
It is evident that no rule is absolute but, individual-based and situation based; however, it is also a truism to say Nigeria as a nation has an ideology and tradition of reverence for morality. Some attitudes conformed by contemporary Nigerians are not in our culture. It would be hard to find a gloomier locution than that of late Maitama Sule’s sorrowful cogitation in an interview he granted the Nigeria Television Authority on a topic relating to Leadership and Morality in Nigeria. In his words, “We are no longer what we were; the institution of family has broken down; respect for elders and constituted authority which used to be our cardinal principle in our society, is now at its lowest ebb; honesty, where it does not pay has become meaningless; symptoms of revolt loom large in the horizon…” Such nonchalant and recalcitrant attitudes are shaking the foundations of our society and profoundly altering our characters.
The obvious starting point is drug abuse, also known as substance abuse. It is no longer a secret that a considerable percentage of our youths today, irrespective of gender or age are abusing drugs – be it cannabis, narcotics, codeine and many more. Some of these youths take these substances for pleasure, some take it in order to run away from their problems, while others take it because of addiction. Whatever the reason might be, it leads to some worrisome snags; it alters one’s mental status which subsequently affects the brain. In a BBC Reith Lecture in 2001, Tom Kirkwood, a Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Ageing at Newcastle University said “The greatest physical asset of any of us, even those as well endowed in other respects as Dolly Parton or Arnold Schwarzenegger, is the soft grey hemisphere that sits between our ears – The human brain…” It is therefore important to sound the horn of warning to those teeming population of youths to preserve their greatest asset – the brain, so that their bright dreams of becoming the leaders of tomorrow does not fade and die.
Another important area of concern is indecency and immodesty in dressing. Ladies dress half naked while guys sag their trousers below their waistline, hang tonnes of chains round their necks and keep different hairstyles which is not in our culture. Such immoral behaviors are incorporated into our society in the name of fashion. The repercussions of these unhealthy behaviors are nothing to write home about – adultery, fornication, rape, lack of respect in the society, to mention but a few. Just as a soldier is recognized with his uniform, so is a lady indecently dressed – passing the information “I’m ready for sex”, even if that is not her intention. The manner in which people dress goes a long way to tell about them. How would one feel when one’s past actions especially during their bloom of youth hunts them in their future endeavors.
Homosexuality, yet another startling decadent trait practiced in our society today. The science of sex appeal and attraction shows that normal individuals get repelled sexually by someone of the same sex or their close relatives like biological sister/brother. What befuddled most is, why would one get sexually attracted to someone of similar sex? – a man being lustfully attracted to another muscular man instead of women and woman to another woman. There is no reason at all, other than mental disease and psychological disorder, why such attitudes divested of human qualities and attributes are adapted.
Furthermore, the role of moral decadence in the encroaching violence would not be over emphasized, as it creates the ambience for the youths to be used as tools for propagating violence. A morally degraded youth has no clear plan in life; has no future ambition or proper orientation that advocate respect for elders or compassion for the young; would easily partake in political thuggery, arm robbery, ethno-religious crisis or any other form of unrest.
We need to ask the hard questions. Where will it all end? More to the point, such recalcitrant attitudes are on the increase, will it all end in tears? To be able to answer this questions in anything other than hand-waving fashion, we need some harder facts. In particular, we need to understand a great deal more about morality.
Morality involves guidance towards achieving a productive knowledge, healthy attitudes toward others, sound mind, brain and brawn that are beneficial, characters that are acceptable by most people, good interpersonal relationship and skills which can help develop oneself and the nation. Moral principles can be taught at home, in schools and places of worship with other factors having influence on it which include peer groups, environment and nutrition.
Individuals on their own need to have sound ideology and proper orientation; in doing so, they would be able to perceive the world not just from their myopic point of view but from others’ too. Hence, they would give other people the presumption of innocence and would therefore understand that not every dishonest thing that someone does is their true self. One should understand that not all relationships are built on love but sometimes the decency of merciful lies. Attaching oneself to good and steering oneself from evil should be of paramount importance as well as avoiding harming others and avoid being harmed. Therefore, it is pertinent to uphold the idea of placing the interest of the society before ones personal interests and having a sense of balance in all endeavors. One should not be too tough to the extend of being mistaken to be an extremist or too gentle for such gentility to be mistaken for stupidity. One should neither be a prodigal fellow nor should one be too stingy, one should not be narcissistic nor too selfless.
Parents on the other hand need to give their children proper up-bringing, healthy mind and body. These can be achieved through taking healthy food, getting adequate rest, frequenting exercise and proper medication devoid of self medication or drug abuse. Observe your children’s friends, the toys they play with, know the type of games they play, television channels and programs they follows and who they interact with on social media. But in doing so, treat them gently but do not cuddle them because only the taste of fire makes fine steel. Teach them to share generously, teach them to be truthful in nature, teach them to have compassion for the young and respect for the elders and teach them to never give up but to learn to let go when they realized they have lost.
Teachers on the other hand should be able to discover talent and specialism in individuals and help in diverting attention, resources, time and energy towards harnessing the potentials in those individuals. Guide them from inception of such discovery so as to shape those abilities, mentor them properly and parents should also allow such talent run its natural cause. Do not force a born-footballer into studying medicine or refuse a child that is a good artist pursuing career in art.
The building of links between different stakeholders responsible for moralisation is terribly important. The most encouraging message is that as soon as we recognise that we need a morally sound society in order to solve all our problems in this nation and understand that the combine effort of all sectors is needed in order to imbibe moral principles into individuals, we can see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Nonetheless, we must temper our utopia with a considerable degree of caution and ensure that we do not deny anyone their freedom of choice and fundamental human rights.
Muhammad Muawiya Alkali writes from MAUTECH, Yola