Politicians Without Conscience

A Leonard George (Dr.) propagated a political theory which says that a danger sign of the lapse from true skepticism into dogmatism is an inability to respect those who disagree. Eleanor Roosevelt asked: When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it? (In Nigeria, many politicians and their agents think the obverse).

From the origin it is believed that conscience is the chamber of justice. Many Nigerian politicians rather believe that mudslinging and character-assassination is the chamber of justice; they believe that whatever that can be done to whittle the aspiration of the opponent is the chamber of justice; they believe that casting venom and vituperation on the opponent is the chamber of justice.

The above practice by many Nigerian politicians, to me, is politics without conscience. Many people talk more of God in this country, especially the politicians, than they talk about any other thing in the world, but exhibit the features of serpent. Which God would ask you to use mischievous and malicious propaganda against your opponent by cooking up make-belief stories even when the opponent in his or her widest imagination had not thought about such? We read a lot of things on the pages of the newspapers/Internet, and sometimes I wonder what politicians have made of most of us – media men. Scandalizing an opponent with non-issue based is politics without conscience. This, in equation, is as killing!

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law. The later in my thought, is what people should be practicing rather than using evil-press releases against the opponent just to score non-sense political relevance?

While many Nigerians and the politicians talk about God so much, they behave anyhow, and do not care who may be watching them; even to their ‘God’, they don’t care he may be watching. Being brave is not about/by using anything available to win your opponent in a contest, without listening to your inner man, which abhors the thought and doings of evil. Any transaction that doesn’t justify the conscience is not heroic, no matter how many trillion naira we might make out of it.

It was these ‘politicians without conscience’ who went to a Martin Niemoller, and he lamented: “First they came for the Jews. I was silent. I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists. I was silent. I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists. I was silent. I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me. There was no one left to speak for me”. They perhaps achieved what they wanted from Niemoller because he had no one to speak for him in their quest of desperation. And if he had said anything as he had no one to speak for him, he wouldn’t have lived to narrate his ordeal. This is what ‘politicians without conscience’ do. They can go unwanted miles to haunt their political opponent.

You can not say that you have a conscience if you can not resist a purported temptation to hoodwink the general public with damaging publications. A letter by a Lillian Hellman to the US House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities, 1952, said, “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions, even though I long ago came to the conclusion that I was not a political person and could have no comfortable place in any political group”.

How many of us respect the voice inside us? We should avoid respecting lone conscience, conscience should be for the whole of humanity. Recognizing your own conscience might be injustice, but justice when you use conscience in accordance with the thinking of the generality of humanity. This is why a Christopher Reeve once said: “I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us. It may be God, I don’t know. But I think that if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do”.

Having a conscience that thinks with one purpose – selfishness – is the reason Kenneth Kaunda once said: “The inability of those in power to still the voices of their own consciences is the great force leading to change”. No matter how much we sell our conscience to acquire wealth, a Izaak Walton warns that the person that loses his or her conscience has nothing left worth keeping. (Not even the wealth that conscience was sold for).

A work of art should be a confession rather than confusing people. Many people who have practiced the later need confession. A Mohandas Gandhi once said that in matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place; the human voice can never reach the distance that is covered by the still small voice of conscience. There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience; it supersedes all other courts.

A lot of people have done things against conscience just for politics, even without someone demanding it. This was the reason Albert Einstein, a German born American Phycist, who developed the special and general theories of relativity, and a Nobel Prize winner for Physics in 1921, admonished that never do anything against the conscience, even if the state demands it.

Freedom of speech should not be mistaken for foolery conscience. A Retiring Judge Neil Denison, who as Common Sergeant of London since 1993 was one of Britain’s most prominent judges, as quoted by the London Daily Telegraph, said: In some of its more lunatic aspects, political correctness is merely ridiculous. But in the thinking behind it, there is something more sinister which is shown by the fact that already there are certain areas and topics where freedom of speech, in the sense of the right to open and frank discussion, is being gradually but significantly eroded.

Hanna Ardent said: “What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core”.

Carl Jung said: Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, ‘Something is out of tune’.

Anne Frank said: “Then, without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time. Anyone can do this; it costs nothing and is certainly very helpful. Whoever doesn’t know it must learn and find by experience that a quiet conscience makes one strong”.

Written by
Odimegwu Onwumere
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