A country's true worth is measured by its values, not economic whizzes

Ethics create boundaries for a world that is prone to wander. [iStockphoto]

The values song must stay on repeat mode. It must be sung until its chorus becomes the voice in the heads of Kenyans.  

The values album must gain so much airplay that it becomes the default whistling tune for the nation. The values song needs to indefinitely overtake the shillings song on the charts. When the shilling leads, vice is its chief cheerleader. Money is a good servant but an evil god.

An economic think tank is good. But it will be of little value in the absence of a moral think tank. Where economists are, ethicists must be also. Even the most advanced of scientific innovations is overseen by a rigorous ethical process. Ethics create boundaries for a world that is prone to wander.

Moral sifting instills a sense of ambition. As liberal as the world may claim to be, it is not limitless. Climate change is a clear exhibit that commands human beings against living thoughtlessly. The universe is to feed us, yes, but greed is not part of the package.

The Lord’s prayer supplies humans with the philosophy necessary for a healthy coexistence with the rest of nature: “Give us today our daily bread.“  This may sound simple but sometimes it is such simplicity that gives optimal results in a complex world.

Humans may mock limitations but they are inevitable. The world can be stretched but not indefinitely. The thing is that no one knows its snapping point.  There are frontiers the open mind will plan to go but shouldn’t go - not because it can’t but because it is not right to go there. 

An innate moral sense informs ambition of the senselessness of blind pursuit. The world does have a breaking point beyond which it harms its human occupants.  When moral limits are defied, disorder and death seize control.

Kenya’s Treasury is a critical function. But the EACC does not rank lower. The ethics regulator keeps the treasury sane.  Without the EACC, Treasury risks running mad with Mammon inspiration. Therefore, investing in an economics think tank without even greater investment in a moral think tank is weak.

A country that supports little in its ethics regulator will soon run out of character, with corruption chaos as a consistent yield.  Moral regulation must keep up with economic ambition. It is the moral calibration that gives an institution and a nation its soul.  For a country to commune life to its people, values must always be stronger than the shilling. 

Without the EACC, Treasury risks running mad with Mammon inspiration. [File, Standard]

Kenya is not short of names that are gurus in economics. But names of gurus in championing holistic morality are not as easy to spot. This is a road less travelled. 

Even when the church is generously branded the custodian of morality and conscience of the nation, it is hard to put contemporary faces to this cause.

Of significant concern is that young pastors are conspicuously invisible on the frontline of a national values renaissance charge.  The infrequent press conferences equalise all the priests, masking the possibility of isolating individual ethics champions.

It seems that even people of the cloth feel inadequate to come out as individual crusaders against the madness of government. Why the reluctance? Part of this could be the fear of shaming backlash. The question of legitimacy is hard to respond to given that vice vendors will always find enough mud to smear even the best of us. Factually, no one has the right to cast a stone. We all have some blood on our hands. Others have blood on their lips –clearly, it has been their time to eat!

When other leaders wear sunglasses not to face the blinding heat of corruption, the president must rise and be brave to be the nation’s moral champion.

Citizens are inspired by a leader who is an integrity crusader.  They are wary of a corrupt president. Just as the president is the singular passionate salesman of the housing project, he must be an even more passionate salesman of integrity. Without integrity, the housing project risks being “eaten” turning a legacy project into a lethal scandal. Integrity salesmanship demands that the presidency also sets an example.

For Kenya today, a president’s moral exemplariness would be a way greater legacy than any physical project. To many Kenyans uprightness - especially among politicians – is already a declared impossibility. To see a president who takes and keeps the integrity trail is a miracle. 

Kenya needs a repentance moment to mark the beginning of a moral turnaround. [iStockphoto]

The shortage of trusted ethics champions makes technology a more accessible agent for instituting order. Technology partly navigates around having to deal with the warped hearts of men.  It also minimises the implementer’s need for self-introspection and possible confessions.

In countries with galloping corruption like ours, process technologies give leaders a way of showing the public how efficiency is also taming corruption. This distracts attention from their dealings. The process flow looks corruption-tight at some levels but is open to manipulation at others.

The actual elimination of corruption takes a transformation of human beings. Our past must not paralyze us! Repentance is a practice that yields new possibilities. Religious or secular we all would do with an intentional turn-around moment.

Repentance baptizes, renames, and reorients the conscience. Kenya needs a repentance moment to mark the beginning of a moral turnaround. While we can leave corruption to end organically, a national ritual would serve well to breathe a new spirit into the people. 

While public officers take an oath of office, citizens need an oath too. This two-way oath expands the task of integrity propagation to two centres – officer and citizen. But given the wanton disregard of oaths, recruitment into the national integrity army would be voluntary.

Citizens who feel called to join the values champions’ army would sign up and get formal recognition from the state. They would be registered, trained, and deployed. Like is with agricultural extension officers and health promotion officers, the room should be made for integrity promotion officers.  This army’s mandate would be to increase the moral weight of our country from the present lightweight to the heavyweight category.

A country’s true worth is less in its economic whizzes and more in its values champions. A country is doubly blessed when the economic gurus are also 'value freaks'.