Corruption is an individual disease that can be cured

Many of us have found it impossible to wrap our minds around the colossal amounts being bandied around in cases of grand corruption. With so many billions of shillings being discussed, the million has faded into insignificance. The reality, however, is that millions of Kenyans will go to the grave without ever experiencing what owning just one million shillings feels like.

Yet, simple arithmetic shows if a person were given one billion, and they spent Sh100,000 per day, it would take them almost thirty years to exhaust the amount. The question that therefore begs is: What drives men and women to uncontrollably desire to have billions in their bank accounts — whether locally or offshore? What is this disease that drives a respectable leader to destroy the very institution over which they have been given oversight, simply to have billions that they will never exhaust in their lifetime?

In an attempt to explain this phenomenon, Stephen Covey in his powerful book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, argues that such behavior could be driven by what he calls the “Scarcity Mentality.” According to Covey, the Scarcity Mentality is a zero-sum paradigm of life in which a person retains the false notion that life has limited resources—as though the resources of the world were only one small pie for which there is a scramble. The person therefore becomes obsessed with riches and is driven to gather as much as they can before the “scarce resources” run out.

The strange thing is that even when there is an abundance of resources, a man or woman with a Scarcity Mentality retains an insatiable hunger and thirst for riches, and especially for money. Such people spend all their sleeping and waking moments strategising on how to acquire more, by hook or crook—especially by crook! Covey observes that people with a Scarcity Mentality have great difficulty sharing recognition and credit, power or profit—even with those that have helped in their success. They also have a hard time being genuinely happy for the success or riches of other people. This may explain why men and women who are super rich are the same ones who grab the property of the poor or what is meant for the poor.

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A close relative to Scarcity Mentality is what Zig Ziglar calls the Poverty Mindset. In this paradigm, a person’s life is focused on what they do not have, instead of on what they already have. They consider themselves to be “poor” as long as there is a person who seems to be doing better than they. Such people therefore chase after any and everything they see. No one around them should have a more beautiful wife, brighter children, or a better car. The poverty mindset will compel a person to own the tallest building, the best business, the largest tracts of land, and the fattest bank accounts. Unfortunately, the thrill of these is only experienced at the point of acquisition, but like narcotic drugs, the emotional high soon wears out and they are back to the pursuit of more things. It is an addiction – addicted to a deprivation outlook.

Sense of contentment

Thankfully, like every addiction, the Scarcity or Poverty mindset, though difficult to be rid of, can nonetheless be cured. Ziglar proposes that to break out of the poverty mindset, one must make a conscious choice. You must believe in yourself, have a plan, and use dogged determination and perseverance to change. Covey recommends replacing it with an Abundance Mentality, which flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth or security not founded on wealth and riches. It is a paradigm that appreciates that there is enough and to spare for everybody. This attitude creates a positive sense of contentment with and thankfulness for whatever one has.

Paul the Apostle makes the powerful observation that, godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. He argues that, people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. To those who have set aside all morals for the sake of money, Jesus asked: what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but, in the end, loses his own soul? As Covey says, there is enough pie to go around, so break that nasty habit of killing yourself in pursuit of wealth.

- The writer is the Presiding Bishop of Christ is the Answer Ministries (CITAM). [email protected]

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