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The mudslinging must cease now: a short primer on ethics and personality attacks

Mon, 17 Aug 2020 Source: Isaac Ato Mensah

The mudslinging from the ghanaian poliTRIKcians on social media platforms must cease now.

Let us remind ourselves of the golden rule here, to wit, “Do unto others what you will wish them to do unto you”.

Our poliTRIKcians are not fighting over justice, or principles; no, they are shooting down the only thing we have left – our dignity as human beings.

Samuel N. Woode, my former lecturer at School of Administration, University of Ghana (now University of Ghana Business School), told an important story when he taught Ethics in Public Administration.

He explained that a married woman agreed to sex with the Nazis in exchange for her life in a Nazi concentration camp and became pregnant.

She, someway, somehow, managed to reach her husband who had been praying for her safe return.

On finding her husband the visibly pregnant wife told him “I did it for you”.

The husband said of the pregnancy. “I shall name the child Dietrich, because you did it out of love for me,” Prof. Woode narrated.

“When it comes to ethics, there is a thin grey line,” Professor Woode often told his class, with an inflexion on “thin”, which drew smiles on the faces of his students.

So enough is enough; let the darkest week of exposés about the alleged sexual escapades of our politicians be behind us.

In The Art of War, Sun Tsu talks about letting the other person save face.

He explains that when fighting the enemy, you should cover only three corners and allow space on the fourth end of the battle square to enable the opponent escape home if they so desire.

Otherwise, when the enemy realises they have no chance of escape, they will fight to the death.

At that stage, the enemy troops will no longer need inspiration from their general; they will now have a greater impetus to fight ferociously for their lives.

We should therefore avoid Pyrrhic victories: the kind of victories that cost the winner an arm and a leg.

The electorate was enjoying a somewhat appreciable level of decorum with an issues-based political campaign season until now.

We need to go back to that ASAP, and then seek to improve upon it.

The Christian Bible (New King James Version) says in Jeremiah 31:29: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the teeth of the children have been set on edge” meaning the children are suffering the consequences of their fathers’ actions which must not be so.

We must therefore think of the unintended consequences to those who are not directly involved in the battle we are waging, and avoid hurting them.

This is a universal principle acknowledged since the Nuremberg Trials aka vicarious liability.

“Even in war, there are ethics,” my mentor will charge.

Then he adds laconically, “Even among thieves, there is honor”.

And if all these still do not prompt a ceasefire and individuals will hide behind group action, then a final word, from an old heavy oak frame on a shelf in one of my mentor’s libraries states:

“He who must Destroy another in order to Succeed, must have destruction awaiting him at the post of His Success; and whosoever must kill in order to Live, will have Death as Sentinel at the door of His own Life”.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah