Respect Is Not An Entitlement; It’s Earned

Mon, 20 Aug 2012 Source: Badu, K.

In our anfractuous society, we hold the view that our “elders” must be respected regardless of their evaluative nonfeasance. I dare say that respect is earned and should not be seen as a perquisite of every grown up person. In actual fact, an irresponsible grown up person who just “talk to talk” does not deserve deferential regard from anyone. In essence, our “elders” must command respect and cease demanding appreciation despite persistent dereliction of duties.

I have been compelled to write this piece following the death of Professor Mills (May His Soul Rest in Perfect Peace), and the numerous inconsequential remarks being put forward by people from all walks of life. We even hear some prominent people asseverating that Professor Mills died of persistent aspersions- “cancer of the political hatred”; “rotten politics in Ghana”; criticisms etc. Etc. How bizarre?

We also hear from the family of Professor Mills that he died from massive stroke. So, which is which? Did Professor Mills die from persistent calumniation or massive stroke? I dare asseverate that the school of thought who are hinging on calumniation as the cause of death lack reflective thinking. I am pretty sure that the family’s account emanates from the autopsy report. Thus we can conclude that it is authentic cause of death, unless coroner’s inquest proves otherwise futuristically.

In Ghana, it is a taboo to criticise an elderly person or someone in a high position for instance. In actual fact, constructive criticism in the direction of a coarse leadership is deemed as disrespectful. The manner in which we are practising our democracy leaves me with puzzled countenance at times. You see, ‘nonsense’ is a democratic phraseology, albeit it is abominable to repeat such parlance in condemnation of political ultra vires in Ghana for instance. Even the society obtusely sees constructive criticisms of evaluative dereliction of duties by leadership as an insult.

We should remind ourselves that we imported democracy and it has a lot of features. Therefore, if we want to practice democracy fully, then we should prepare to embrace the insipid features associated with it. We should bear in mind that heckling for instance is not disrespectful. I recall leading to UK general elections in 2010, the then incumbent Prime Minister, Gordon Brown was heckled by a woman who was unhappy about how the country was being run. Mr Brown contained his emotional intelligence throughout the heckling and only reacted when he got into his car. Unlucky for Mr. Brown, his microphone was on without knowing and his secret utterances hit the airwaves. His aides informed him immediately and Mr. Brown went back to the woman and apologised. How many of our politicians in Ghana would have gone back to the woman? Some of our politicians do not have respect for the people they are serving; hence they are not prepared to accept any constructive criticisms from anyone.

Of course, some people may go overboard in their criticisms; something discerning Ghanaians do not condone. I have always maintained that as people, we cannot move in one direction, thus, we should agree to disagree without resorting to tempestuous insults. In as much as politics is characterised by inebriation, it is inconsequential for anybody to calumniate anyone.

I think it is about time we Ghanaians understood the difference between an insult and criticism. I must stress that no public figure is immune from criticisms. If you choose to become a public figure, you do not have everyone as your ‘friend’ and you should expect ‘sweet and sour’ reception. Let us remind ourselves that President Obama has not died of insults and criticisms; British Prime Minister, David Cameron is still alive despite the numerous curses from civil servants who lost their jobs following the ‘credit crunch’; our own former President Kuffour survived the insults. Lest I forget, has former President Rawlings died from insults and criticisms? What about N.P.P flag bearer, Nana Addo Danquah? Is he dying from the lethal disease called ‘insults’?

As a nation, we cannot develop if we persistently resort to pettiness instead of putting theories into practice. The elitist should bear in mind that mere political inebriations do not develop a nation, but by thinking reflectively, developing theories and putting them into practice may come into fruition. May God help Ghana!

K. Badu, UK.

Columnist: Badu, K.