A promise is a contract. It is a bankable cheque. A promise is a bridge between intention and action. Promises are made possible by the realm of truth. A promise made is deemed as reliable and one can proceed to make decisions based on it. Promises are made to be kept. A promise keeper attracts. A promise-breaker distracts.
A global movement of men called the Promise Keepers bases its philosophy on the value of making and keeping a commitment. The home is a big winner with the men committing to strong marriages and effective parenting. An intentional accountability network brings men to their senses and supports them to stand until their lives are steady.
Kenya badly needs a political chapter of the Promise Keepers. There is need for a fraternity of politicians who hinge their work on keeping promises made to the people.
As things stand now, promises are nothing but words. Resuscitators of promise keeping are urgently needed to wrench this country from the fangs of merciless deceivers. We are not short of promises made but we have an acute shortage of promise keepers.
Promise breaking mutates public servants into public enslavers. Think about the multicoloured high-worded manifestos than never manifest! People rise to positions by making promises to citizens only to make the offices fountains of selfish ambition.
Corporate and political leaders in Kenya known for allegiance to truth are an endangered species.
Most leaders are liars. Liars make the most convincing promises and break them with the same efficiency. Not even swearing under oath - even invoking God’s name - slows them down. The oath is just another unavoidable pit stop in their race to riches. The oath is quoted only where it helps win a political debate but hardly as a pivot for principles and working philosophies.
Lies inflict emotional and intellectual abuse and for this, citizens should not be accused when their sense of patriotism takes a dip. How can you expect patriotism from people whose hearts you have broken over and over by breaking promises in their face?
Realistic people moderate their commitment by saying: “I do not promise anything but I will do my best.”
These people recognise both the power and price of a promise. Desperate people make promises that either have too high a price or are outright unrealistic.
One politician told a far-flung town in North Easter Kenya, “If you vote for me I will build you an airport in your village within 100 days.” While this is not impossible, it is highly unlikely.
Proud people make promises with a sense of invincibility. A corporate head will respond to a demand of a potential client by saying, “That is a small thing for us. We do it all the time.” Such trivialisation of a relatively big matter so as not to appear lacking is exposed in dues course as big talk void of action.
In this campaign season, politicians are peddling promises galore.
In addition to being too many, the promises are situational and spontaneous. This provides ground to argue that the promise makers are unserious and are only out to please people by projecting a fixer image.
Candidates pop out of the sunroofs of their guzzlers to make promises not out of conviction but because to be kept or not, promises must be made. Promise making constitutes a significant part of the campaign alphabet.
Barack Obama in his book A Promised Land says this about the day his health care bill - named Obamacare - was passed: “For me, this was the celebration that mattered. The night we’d had in Grant Park after winning the election had been extraordinary, but it had been just a promise, not yet realized. This night meant more to me, a promise fulfilled.” Keeping a promise matters.
At a wedding ceremony, vows are the peak point of the ceremony. Some couples laugh and crack jokes as they make their vows. Such attitudes disconnect the marrying from the weight of their vows.
Promises where love and death fit in the same sentence are intense. Undermining vows is a rich source of spousal strife. Some marriages peg promise keeping on one partner while the other roams uninhibited.
Some people overlook promises made to children, juniors and the lowly. They regard these categories as beneath them and therefore not deserving of the price of keeping a promise.
Priests make promises to their worshipers in the name of God, knowing sure well there are no guarantees as to the outcomes of their faith formulas. Companies exaggerate the impact of their products by staging a hyped performance promise.
Then there is the promise to self say, “I will never drink again.” These self-focused “never again” promises are mostly drawn from personal experiences and often demand more than personal resolve to effect.
Some communities value promises so much that promises musts be kept no matter the price.
John the Baptist was a victim of a promise kept. King Nebuchadnezzar came face to face with young men who chose to keep the promise they had made to their God. King Xerxes had to deliver the promise he made to Queen Esther.
Kenya’s sorry state is because of broken promises. Promises abound but do not bind. If politicians would make their word their bond, Kenya would play at a higher league.
Breaking promises is evidence of mean leaders and sets the stage for citizen exploitation. Promise breaking creates a culture of suspicion where people no longer listen to the lines but thoroughly read between them. Where promises are kept, life abounds. Where promises are broken, strife abounds.