Our society is bedevilled with many problems, mainly because of our own making. We create problems for ourselves because of a lack of integrity. Here lies the biggest problem, lack of integrity. The word integrity comes from the Latin word ‘integrare’, which means ‘intact’, ‘whole’ or ‘harmony’. Integrity, therefore, means the “wholeness or completeness as consistency and coherence of principles and values … integrity means that a professional exercises his tasks adequately, carefully and responsibly, taking into account relevant interests” (Huberts, 2018). Without integrity, our lives become vulnerable. As they say, all hell breaks loose for humanity when there is no integrity. Integrity, integrity, integrity – that is the cornerstone of our being – the ubuntu guiding philosophy that is fast disappearing from us. Take time and reflect on the happenings surrounding you. Watch the television, listen to the radio and read newspapers, and just observe what is happening in your locality. The story is the same. Many stories of unethical behaviour. It is cause for great concern. I will illustrate some of the incidents involving lack of integrity to trigger your mind.
Whindi bribed a driving examiner, and was issued with a driving licence without competence within the shortest possible time. As fortune would have it for Whindi, he immediately got a job as a long-distance bus driver, despite his incompetence and inexperience, putting the lives of passengers at risk. Before long, Whindi plunged the bus he was driving into a flooded river, resulting in the death of several passengers, including him. Innocent lives were lost because of Whindi and the driving examiner’s unprofessional conducts.
I will present another scenario, in which government Central Medical Stores’ officials steal vital medicines meant for clinics in the rural areas, and sell the medicines to private doctors every day.
For the whole year, rural clinics wait in vain for the much-needed medicines which do not arrive, and as a result, poor people die. Shameful and unethical actions.
In yet another scandal, academic dishonesty leads to university students hiring or contracting other people to write assignments, theses and dissertations for them. Some students have actually not attended classes, but they are seen graduating at the end of their degree programmes.
Others pass through the academic systems through other devious methods of cheating. It is sad to note that some students have gone as far as paying other people to write examinations for them. Incredulous, isn’t it?
Similarly, the thighs-for-a-pass or sex-for-marks is another detestable practice that has seen female students selling their bodies to unscrupulous male lecturers for them to access examination papers a
head of the examination period. A huge disgrace.
They pass with flying colours, not because they are intelligent, but because they had unfair advantage over the rest
who did not get the answers to the examination papers before the examinations.
The other day, a screaming headline of an online newspaper read: “UZ cancels law exams after papers leak … education under threat”.
Just imagine, if law students are involved in a scandal like this, how will they execute the law when they are practising law after graduating from university? Will it be the case of who will police the police?
A big shame. I shudder to think of hiring the services of a lawyer who comes out of such academic dishonesty.
I could go on and on to cite incidents of dishonesty in academia and other spheres
of life, but the ones I have given so far suffice for me to make my point. You can add on the list as you read this article or after reading it, as there are countless examples of the results of dishonest actions in your vicinity. In all the above cases and others that you will find, lack of integrity comes top as the cause of these problems. It boggles the mind to note that almost every aspect of our lives has been invaded by lack of integrity, leading to devastating consequences. Is it because of the fallibility of human nature or greed that trigger dishonest actions among us? It seems to me that most people in general have lost their moral principles, and no longer adhere to the codes of behaviour of society and their workplaces. What is worrisome still is that the acts of dishonesty are committed in the full view and presence of young children. What kind of future generations are we breeding? They will adopt the unethical conduct as the norm, and this will definitely worsen the situation and complicate their lives more.
The overarching message of this article is that if all of us have integrity in all our undertakings, we would have a peaceful world to live in. Zahari, Saidi Muhamad (2021) in their paper titled “Research on Integrity: Review and Assessment”, aptly say state:
“The use of integrity is associated with positive social and practical values such as honesty and truthfulness, which in a sense is under the values of ethics. People with integrity are connected with activities that have a positive tone, such as being honest in work, responsible, conscientious and being transparent in any work-related transactions.”
So, as I see it, there is need for everyone in society to review our behaviour and gravitate more towards integrity. Before
you take an action, ask yourself: Of what good is this going to be to fellow countrymen and women? To the nation as a whole? If we are all sincere, fair and honest in our dealings, we will have harmony in our society.