“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew, 7:3-5)
If I challenged you to name 10 instances of corruption that you have encountered in your everyday life, I don’t think many of you would struggle.
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From police stations to hospitals, from Government buildings to public institutions, we have all encountered our fair share of graft.
But let me take a guess and make an assumption. At least nine out of 10 of those instances, which just crossed your mind, were situations in which you were the victim.
Someone else was asking for a bribe. You were inconvenienced by it. You played along unwillingly, because, well - that’s what everyone does when they want something done.
This victim mentality has to stop. It is part of the problem. If we want to stop corruption, all Kenyans must stand up and take responsibility for their part in it.
Whether taking graft or giving it. Whether bending the rules for your own benefit, or turning a blind eye when you see it happen.
Whether doing it for greedy profit, or for the best reasons you can think of. Whether convincing ourselves Uhuru’s anti-corruption measures are a political stunt rather than desperately needed reforms.
It takes two to do many things. To talk. To discuss. To argue. And nearly always to engage in corruption.
For every act of corruption there is nearly always at least one person who is crucial to enabling it.
Now we can stand back and point fingers at the other side. That official is withholding my funds, that one is always letting his family to the front of the queue. But ultimately, this is all self-justification and excuses. We notice other people’s corruption most when it doesn’t suit us, when we cannot afford it, when it doesn’t benefit us.
We notice corruption least when we can afford it and it acts in our favour.
Have another think about moments of corruption in your life. And this time, not just where you see yourself as the victim. See if you can think of some moments when graft actually helped you.
The time you got to jump the queue. The extra forms you didn’t have to fill in. Perhaps you managed to get quicker treatment for a relative who was ill. And who wouldn’t? You have to look after your own, right?
Wrong. Not when it means undermining the rule of law and trust in the system.
When we are having a public discussion about the ills of corruption, it is easy to get carried away in the sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’. ‘They’ are the ones doing it to ‘us’.
But this simply isn’t true. For every act of bribery that takes place, there is the one who asks and the one who accepts. And we have all been on at least one side of that interaction in our pasts.
In order to move forward as a people and escape the deep web of corruption that is holding our country back, we need to move on from living in the victim mentality.
We need to put our hands up and say, yes, I was a part of this graft culture - and no - I will not continue.
The biggest change as always, must come from within. Uhuru is leading the way. We need to follow.
We are all very good experts at spotting the corrupt speck in our neighbour’s eye. But it is only by removing the log in our own eyes that we will be able to be proud, transparent and clear on our shared values.
Our own innocence will help us stand up to corruption when needed. And that means some tough soul-searching in the mirror and some hard sacrifices when it comes to our short-term interests and those of our family. Uhuru can’t do it all on his own.
Every short cut we take with graft for our own gain sets our fellow people and our great nation back on the road to shared prosperity.
Mr Maore is the Member of Parliament for Igembe North constituency
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Standardmedia.co.ke