ONE of the greatest hemorrhages experienced by Guyana following intellectual and capital flight since the early 1990’s is the erosion of integrity.
Merriam-Webster defines ‘integrity’ as the firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.
It is further conceptualised as consistency of actions, values, methods and measures that affect principles, expectations and outcomes. The opposite is regarded as hypocrisy, often manifested by corruptness and a host of other ills. Every day citizens of this country are faced with mind boggling experiences that would be frowned upon or utterly uprooted from most civilized societies. Some include the regularity of inept, callous and unprofessional behaviour, in both public and private sectors. Others are more glaring, in the forms or bribery, deliberate distortion of records and various forms of evasion, including taxes. These trends invariably lead to unwarranted delays or losses in real dollars.
Failure by some lofty addressees to respond to or even acknowledge correspondence is a challenge evident in all sectors. The nonchalance and dishonesty that follow the absence of such ethics are simply amazing and harmful to any civilized society.
Then there are the ever “busy” bodies; these are office-holders who render themselves inaccessible, while they punctuate their daily duties with frequent and lengthy inter-collegial gaffs or social media engagements. Of the more extremes are the organised white collar racketeers.
Those are just a few examples, sampling the new “is Guyana” culture that exposes the deficiency of integrity. This subject found its way in the recent AFC press conference, where the Honourable Ministers David Patterson and Cathy Hughes gave respective insights into the slow, but steady progress that has been made to date under the coalition government at discouraging and reversing trends of corruption.
As much as we know of the issues, responsible personal behavior is the first step we can all take towards restoring integrity in our society. Again, I will reference Minister Hughes and her testimony relevant to the option of paying a traffic ticket or “leffing something” with a police officer who had stopped her for exceeding a speed limit. She opted to pay the ticket instead of greasing the officer’s hand. If she had not demonstrated integrity in that instant she would never be able to face that officer with dignity again, much less talk about it.
Recently too, another public servant – a young police rank stationed several villages up the East Coast, who found a Tradesman’s phone, travelled to Georgetown to return it to its owner. Such honesty is also another wink of integrity. This is the type of mental strength Guyanese need to emulate and seek to re-establish as a cultural hallmark. It is responsible behaviour, and responsibility begins with nobody but us.
The discipline to be responsible builds integrity. Maybe the media can also help by playing its part by capturing more instances when persons demonstrate integrity so that it is seen as normative and not just abstract instances or good luck!