I recall a past when reports from some organisation or other concluded New Zealand was one of the least corrupt nations in the world. This may have had an element of truth to it when we were a predominantly Christian nation comprised of one giant middle class unsegregated into haves and have nots. Back then we were pretty much made up of people getting along and getting on with it. She was right mate, and there were no worries eh. I haven’t heard any such reports recently. If I did I would immediately consign them to my overflowing wastebasket of fake news.
In my travelling years I visited various nations usually referred to by the children of privilege as the third world. There was an open system of corruption there and a thriving black market. It was acknowledged and largely accepted as simply the way business was conducted. All voluntary of course. At border crossings you could fill in the forms and wait for days while officialdom processed them. Or for the goodwill gift of a few packets of Marlboro cigarettes your passport could be stamped and your passage expedited efficiently. Smart travellers who had never smoked in their lives carried packets of Marlboro for just such purposes. Likewise for various traffic infringements you could have your vehicle impounded while waiting for a hearing or if a few US dollars happened to be folded up inside your international drivers licence then after all “it is only a triviality. You can be on your way.” The price for many such bribes was negotiable.
In the New Zealand of today things are different but not necessarily better. We also have the pay-for-play bribes, political donations for services rendered and the outrageous consultants fees which mirror the baksheesh of poorer nations. Mutual back scratching, the nepotism of the ‘Old Boys Network’ and other more secretive and sinister networks are a reality. These are sometimes reported amid much shock horror exposé. Yet there is more prevalent corruption that seethes away below the surface that is perhaps more insidious than anything the third world might have to offer. It is the subtle corruption of fear.
There is the fear of loss of social position and status. Ostracism is an ever-present corrupting influence, especially on the young, in this age of social media and the perceived need for popularity and social acceptance.
There is the fear of loss of income and provision. In a world that too often defines us by what we do for a living and how much we obtain for it, how many are prepared to do the unscrupulous, the unethical, the unrighteous, and sometimes the blatantly dishonest simply for a few dollars more?
Those with the dark shadow of debt hanging over them, which is practically everyone, simply cannot afford to lose what income they have. When unethical practices are proscribed, staff must conform or else pay the heavy price of non-compliance. Many are complicit with evil and a party to corruption simply by ‘just doing their job‘. As a serial non-conformist myself I can testify that there is a very real price to pay for bucking the system even when that system is demonstrably wrong.
And there is the ageold fear of loss of health and wellbeing. In the recent coronavirus scare, how many suspended their critical thinking faculties and conformed to nonsensical protocols out of fear of sickness or of prosecution from a government that itself illegally locked down an entire nation?
Judges, lawyers, police and public service personnel who put pleasing those above them in the hierarchy above justice, truth and honest service to the public – these are corrupt. Journalists or editors who refuse to publish the truth rather than rock the boat – these are corrupt. Those who obtain promotion or position through false claims; the ‘fake it till you make it’ crowd with a hyped up CV more fiction than fact – these are corrupt. Do such people even know that they are corrupt or are they merely victims of the prevailing zeitgeist? Are you corrupt, and if so how would you know? If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, the government may tell you it’s a pukeko with a conspiracy theory, but it’s still probably a duck. If it looks stupid, makes no sense, is predicated upon fear and not on reason, then even if they tell you it is science it is not. It is propaganda. It is manipulation. It is spin, marketing and disinformation. If you know something is stupid or wrong and you go along with it through fear or convenience then you prove yourself to be stupid and lazy. If however you sincerely seek the truth, which after all is what both real science and authentic religion tries to do, you will find it. After that you must act upon it. If you don’t you will at least know the answer: Yes, you are corrupt.
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