Indiscipline in our society, the cause of our plight

Fri, 15 Jun 2007 Source: Obeng, Mensah Richard

Indiscipline implies the lack of self-control and disobedience resulting in blatant violation of rules and regulations which in turn creates mayhem and commotion. It is a fact that acts of indiscipline result from lack of self-discipline. It accounts for moral decadence, displeasure and voracity which in turn lead to stealing, robbery and other related crimes. The extent of gross indiscipline in the country stretches from Accra to Tumu. It is a thorny issue of which both the ruling and the ruled are culpable. This is also true among the educated and the uneducated. That is how some of our leaders are behaving; my parents are doing it, oh! That is how my instructor, teacher or lecturer conducts himself; in fact everybody is like that, has become the common remark and the indefensible excuse for our indiscipline actions. The disciplined ones are ironically regarded by the naughty ones as those who are behaving oddly. The blight is deeply rooted in all the aspects of our lives.

These days, people flout rules and regulations with impunity, we litter the streets, dump refuse indiscriminately, park our cars at unauthorized places, fail to pay taxes, trade at undesignated places all under the pretext of ignorance. We erect structures at anywhere. Our health workers frequently go on strikes as if there are no laws in the country. Some of our statesmen talk anyhow. The policeman detailed to arrest a suspected criminal end up receiving bribe and turned to assist the culprit in his illicit undertaking. Some policemen are also alleged to brutalize suspects when effecting arrests. Some of our judges who are to enforce our laws are corrupt. Some of our lawyers are lawless. Some chiefs are selling land indiscriminately which offers no benefit to their subjects. The chieftaincy institution is tainted with hostility. Worst of all, some of our politicians all the time use dubious means in order to win elections. They tell lies and incite their followers to defy the norms and customs of society. Infuriated youth attack policemen, burn down police stations or institute mob justice anyhow. Students terrorize their Principals, Vice Chancellors and lecturers.

Undoubtedly, the entire Ghanaian society is heavily diseased with the maggots of indiscipline. First, there is no rule of law. Everybody is behaving as if he/she cared less where Ghana ends. Some drivers, policemen, students, traders, workers, contractors, statesmen, politicians, principals – everybody is just out of control (as was rightly asserted by Dr.V.Antwi-Danso in his speech on indiscipline). Lamentably, we fail to appreciate that the various evils that we face today are the direct and indirect cost of our bad demeanor in our society. The successive floods in some parts of the country which had claimed about seven (7) lives in Accra this year alone, the current energy crisis which had plagued the nation into darkness, the outbreak of diseases, the pitiable performance of our students in examinations, the stagnant growth in some sectors of our economy, the blatant disrespect in our society and the like are incontrovertibly the actual results of our actions and inactions. Per Aristotle, we are what we repeatedly do.

Throughout history it has the inaction of those whose should have acted, the indifference of those who should known better, and the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most that has made it possible for evil to triumph. (Credit to Emperor Haile Salassie of Ethiopia).

The campaign against greater indiscipline initiated by our veep some years ago seems (if not completely) to be dying. What is amiss, Mr. Vice President? The activities (if any) of the Ministry of National Orientation seems also to be having no or less impart among the populace. Most of our law enforcement agencies are also compromising. The copious bye-laws in the books of our district assemblies remain rhetorical. The ordinary man in the street is also very apathetic. Such is the state of our society. Indiscipline is therefore the order of the day hence the many problems hanging on our neck. Interestingly, everyone is pointing a finger at the other and vice versa, forgetting that the remaining four fingers of ours are pointing at us. Instead of solving the crises together, we are most often explaining and attributing problems. Instead of taking an action to solve the problem, we are waiting for someone to start for us to criticize the person negatively upon the slightest mistake or not all. In criticizing others, remember that you will work overtime for no pay. Instead of us to change ourselves individually, we are waiting for the day that we will all change which is practically not attainable.

It is common knowledge that some of us behave like wheelbarrows, unless you push us, we will never act responsibly. Some of us unless we are lawfully compelled to do the right thing will always pretend to be sleeping even where an acid is being poured upon us. It is said that, one cannot change society and wind up with anything good and lasting without changing the individual in it. According to Roland Mensah, imperfect creatures need restraint and vice versa. It is the modest submission of the writer that people should be dealt with according to the law, and that ignorance of the law is no defense. The very act of applying the law is in itself a form of education for the people. The distasteful question that we normally fail to analyse and answer for ourselves is the issue of why Ghanaians behave lawfully in other countries but do contrary at home-outside there, laws are strictly enforced and no one is allowed to have his/her own way.

The current decongestion exercise being undertaken in our major cities (Especially in Kumasi) should be commended and supported rather than resisted. People will normally try to resist you when you are giving to them what they need but will mockingly corporate with you when you give them what they want which most often than not, do not auger well for our development. The city authorities should not relent on their efforts to do away with all the slums in our cities to promote security while providing alternative market centers for our squatters to continue with their economic activities.

Crimes of all kinds are perpetuations of indiscipline. Therefore, if one fights indiscipline, he or she is also fighting crime. In fact, indiscipline and crime are bedfellows. Unconstructive criticisms and the infamous purported electoral defeat should not be a hindrance for us in our quest to make the populace to do the right thing. Our city authorities in their bid to enforce bye-laws in society should not waste time responding to their critics since they owe them nothing. As Dale Carneige noted, any fool can criticize, condemn and complain. It is thousand times easier to criticize than to create hence, the more reason why critics never solve problems. It is better to do the right thing today and be damned by our critics than to compromise only to be judged by posterity. It worths pointing also that our city authorities should enforce the various bye-laws in their custody to direct the populace to the right path of being discipline in society for our common benefit.

Fellow Ghanaians, our country cannot be a better place unless we craft it to be so. We cannot change our country to fit our dreams unless we revolutionize it ourselves. Indiscipline is the root cause of all our troubles but discipline on our part is the best solution to our entire plight. We are in person the solution to our predicament if we will do what is expected of us. It is most ridiculous to be much disciplined in other countries only to do otherwise at where we store our treasures. Ghana is our natural abode and where we belong. Let us disgust indiscipline and be in love with discipline to modify our present circumstances for it is the only secret behind the success of all developed nations where we disgracefully wish to be. It is discipline that creates productivity and wealth in a country. The economic, social and moral growth of the country and its resulting prosperity depends on discipline. Indiscipline is undevelopment while discipline is the surest path to development. Our cherished independence, it is submitted, will be meaningless unless it is liked with our positive attitudes in all sectors of the economy. The time to act is now!!!

Obeng Mensah Richard, Faculty of Law, KNUST


Center for Human Rights and Advanced Legal Research (CHRALER), Kumasi.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Obeng, Mensah Richard