The rate at which we indulge in evil here in Nigeria would make you think that it so easy, irresistible and profitable all at the same time. On the contrary, it is none of these. It is always difficult, repugnant and ultimately calamitous all the time and its lone lure lies in the brief and ephemeral enjoyment it seems to offer.
Evil or immorality ranges from idolatry at the top to murder, hypocrisy, treachery, terrorism, robbery, adultery, hatred, violence, avarice, malice, nepotism, examination/trade malpractices and cruelty, etc. Evildoers will always be in the majority among mankind as all the holy scriptures predicted but a successful society must harbour a critical mass of do-gooders or suffer greatly and gradually perish.
Yes, most of us do not have to be bad, evil or wicked. Take corruption in public and private organisations. No sane Nigerian is unaware that corruption is the gateway to injustice and that no society can survive sustainably under such condition. We know how the sleaze probably kick-started by the spending sprees of the 1970s oil-boom has gradually permeated every fabric of our national and individual lives.
Today, too many of us are too numb to be bothered by corruption. Some of us are even confused by its true nature. For instance, no less than former President Goodluck Jonathan told the world that “stealing is not corruption.”
The mind-boggling revelations of embezzlement of public resources by those entrusted with leadership positions under Jonathan’s watch was proof that there are Nigerians with a different definition of corruption.
In retrospect, there is no wonder why the entire system and all its vital institutions became corrupt. To date, the National Assembly which is to provide the check and balance over the Executive is embroiled in all manner of under-hand dealings. Worse still, the judiciary recently proved that it does not have the clean hands to bring big-time thieves to justice talk less of administration of justice against themselves.
At the private and individual level, we condone and partake evil malpractices without even wincing. For instance, parents now routinely buy examination answers and even certificates for their offspring without considering that this is bound to backfire negatively in the not-distant future. Jobs, including sensitive security and political posts, are also bought and sold. And as if this is not evil enough, even human beings are now commodities in the hands of traffickers, slave-masters and cult ritualists.
When we consider the fact that those who partook or are still partaking in pillaging the public treasury come from all ethnicities, religions and regions, it may seem that we are a long way from curtailing corruption and the greater evil in the country to its minimum because the majority of us do not even characterise it as evil. However, the turning-point may not be that far. It could be as close as personal introspection where we would see that we are all wired to distinguish between good and evil.
The Golden Rule is so called because it stands for all times. Evil is everything that you do not want done to you. If you are in your right senses, you would not do it to another since everything eventually comes full circle. Action and reaction; cause and effect are facts only the foolish ignore. The following story from the Hadith illustrates this better.
Once, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sitting in the company of some companions when a young man came and asked the Prophet to permit him to fornicate. The aghast assembly asked him to repeat the request to make sure they heard him right and ascertain that he was in his senses. As soon as he confirmed it, one of them got up and requested permission to flog him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) declined this saying there is a better way to solve his situation.
Turning to the youth, he asked “Would it be alright if the object of the fornication were your mother or your sister or your aunt or your daughter or any woman that you truly cherish?” The young man not only answered no to each of the categories listed but changed his request to a prayer by the Prophet (peace be upon him) for him to acquire the means to get married.
The next time you want to cheat, defraud, embezzle, steal, squander or just mismanage people’s or public resources just think how you will feel if it was yours. If you want to kill, maim or merely harm someone, consider how you would feel when the same fate befalls you sooner or later. If doing this does not stop you in your tracks, you will do well to remember that there is always judgement and sometimes it starts right here on earth!