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JaRistotle’s Jottings | The burden of hypocrisy

Published:Thursday | March 28, 2019 | 12:00 AM

And so it came to pass that within the space of a few days, Ruel Reid’s world was turned upside down, with scathing allegations galore and his forthwith departure from the ministry, Cabinet and Senate. At the same time, the saga of alleged assault of a Calabar teacher was competing for media attention. While the details, truths and counter-truths are yet to be indisputably determined, the reports in the public domain are the primary basis on which one may gauge the actions taken thus far, and the public utterances that have followed in respect of each incident.

Hypocrisy in politics

In the first sitting of the Senate after Edu-Scam hit the airwaves, Opposition Senator K.D. Knight was quick to charge that ‘the Upper House of Parliament was not the place for dishonourable politicians, that persons must serve the country without harbouring thoughts of thievery, and adding that the level of corruption at the governmental level, perceived or real, must no longer be allowed to fester’.

I agree with Senator Knight, but let me ask this. Why did he not speak so pointedly on the matter of corruption when former People’s National Party Member of Parliament Kern Spencer was accused of taking funds for the distribution of energy-saving light bulbs, a gift from the Cuban government, and putting the money to his personal use? Instead, the said K.D. Knight jumped to Spencer’s legal defence: talk about allowing corruption at the governmental level, perceived or real, to fester ad infinitum. What hypocrisy!

As night follows day, so long as our political leadership remains true to their party, rather than to the people of Jamaica, hypocrisy of the kind espoused by Senator Knight will continue unabated and corruption in government will never be contained, much less eradicated.

Hypocrisy in schools

If one is to go by the account of assault given by Calabar physics teacher Sanjaye Shaw, or the response posited by acting principal Calvin Rowe, wherein he acknowledged that the students disobeyed Mr Shaw’s orders not to enter a physics lab and that one student admitted to shoving the teacher’s phone from the face of his teammate, it is evident that a serious incident occurred.

Disobeying a teacher and shoving a teacher’s hand were absolute no-nos during my high-school days back in the 1970s, and any student guilty of such poor behaviour would have been quickly and appropriately disciplined.

Children learn what they live, and more so from the examples set by the adults in their lives. The perceived or real failure of the Calabar administration to deal with this particular matter forthwith and decisively sends the wrong message to the student body and now, unfortunately, the general public.

It is ironic that last year Calabar was ready to boot students who failed to attain a 60 per cent or better overall grade average, citing this requirement, plus good conduct as the basis for promotion to grade 11. So, where is the good conduct in this current debacle? I posit that had one of the underperforming students been involved in this incident, he would have been out the gate forthwith. Selectivity of this sort, whether perceived or real, smacks of hypocrisy.

Discipline is about doing the right thing, not because of fear of being punished, but because it is the right and proper thing to do.

Corruption and indiscipline have no place in our society and must be rejected on all counts, regardless of who is involved. Anyone who does otherwise is a hypocrite, who, by his or her actions, allows corruption and indiscipline, whether perceived or real, to fester. We can do without the hypocrites.

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