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How evil triumphs

February 19, 2014

I’m not sure what had happened to him for Edmund Burke to say, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Maybe some pick-pocket had picked his pockets, or some cashier at some supermarket had short-changed him, or some civil servant had refused to offer him some service he needed until he gave him some bribe, etc.  Whatever it was that had happened to him for him to come up with that saying, I agree with him totally.

Take for instance the case of insecurity that has become a norm in the region. How did it get to that level? You want to tell me that guys don’t know who the petty thieves (who later graduate to lethal robbers) in our neighborhoods are? You want to tell me that the people they live with do not know who they are? In most cases they do but because they are family, it becomes hard to take them to the authorities in the name of “protecting” them, until one day they are gunned down then the family members realize they were not protecting them at all, but in keeping quiet, they acted as catalysts to their death.

As tough and as inhumane as this may sound, in such a situation, the best thing would be to report them to the authorities then maybe their lives would be spared and restored once they land in correctional facilities. The only challenge with this is that even in those correctional facilities it seems like evil has triumphed there too. But how did they (correctional facilities) get to that point? It always starts with one person, then they become two, then four, and before we know it, you can’t tell who is genuine any more. Now, what if that one person was eliminated before he infects all the rest with the seed of evil? But the bigger question is, does anyone have the guts to tell the authorities about that rotten apple in the basket? Anyone willing to take the risk?I guess the silence means naught. 

People have become so used to evil that even when it happens, the just look the other way. In fact, it is so bad that sometimes it happens right under the noses of law-enforcers. Take for example Selandar Bridge in Dar Es Salaam. This is one major road that connects the CBD to a major part of Dar Es Salaam, and fortunately it is right next to a police station. The most amazing thing however is that right under their noses, during the evening rush hour when traffic is moving slowly, we have guys who move along the traffic pulling out side-mirrors from vehicles. These guys have mastered and perfected their art so well that they know exactly when to strike, making it hard for the car owner to follow them. By the time you the driver realize what is happening, unhook your seat-belt to open your car, you will be having enough drivers hooting at you to move since you are likely to be the one causing traffic at that point. And besides, the thugs will have gone under the bridge where you have to think twice before you attempt to follow them.

Now, do you want to tell me that the police do not know this is happening? You want to tell me that none of the victims have gone to report such an incident to the police? You want to tell me no police has heard this over the radio since they have aired grievances of that nature enough times? I strongly believe they do, and more importantly, I believe they even know where the hooligans hide themselves after they’ve taken their loot. But what is being done about this? Bigger question is, is it possible that the law enforcers themselves are behind this “operation?” These are some of the questions running through people’s minds because it is difficult to understand why certain habits are allowed to progress right under the authorities noses!

Let’s move on to another issue, an issue that like every other evil started slowly and has caught on like a bush fire on a hot summer night: the issue of drugs. I know its touchy and sensitive but someone has to talk about it. My question has always been one; how are these drugs allowed into the region in the first place? You want to tell me that we are so far behind in technology (as a region) that we cannot see what is happening? Take for instance our boarders, how secure are they? How “hard” is it to pass through with a few grams of some illegal powder, worth millions? Do we have any mechanism of detecting unwanted products? The truth is that evil has triumphed so much at our boarder points that anyone can do anything and no one will raise an eyebrow.

Why then do we get surprised when our youth keep dying of drug abuse and drug overdose? For instance, how many musicians both regional and international have we buried in the last few months as a result of drug overdose? How many are in rehabilitation centers suffering greatly as a result of drugs? How many have gone kukus after using drugs? Worse still, how many have taken to normal prescription drugs that are meant to treat normal ailments but instead they now abuse them unknowingly (and some knowingly) distorting the balance of their systems? Why do pharmacies agree to sell what is supposed to be prescription drugs to people without a prescription? And what is the relevant authority doing about this? You see, this is a very vicious cycle. It starts with one person and affects even those who have no idea what’s going on. That’s what happens when “good” people do nothing about the bad they see in society.

Speaking of prescription drugs, how many bought enough Viagra this past Friday just because it was Valentine’s Day, wanting to present themselves as “superman” in bed, probably to some woman they’ve been flirting with on social media? I don’t mean to be rude but what’s the point of portraying yourself as superman for one night while you are “courage the cowardly dog” in every other aspect of your life? And speaking of Valentine’s Day, shouldn’t this day be renamed to “Lust Day”, since it’s meaning has been totally distorted? I bet St Valentine turns in his grave (or what’s left of him) a million times over every time it’s 14th February. Anyway, I digress. This is a topic for another day and definitely another forum.

We all have the ability to say enough is enough and do the right thing. We all have the power to decide that we shall no longer be party to strengthening what is evil, by rejecting anything that gives it that strength. Yes, like president Obama said during his campaign way before he became president of the USA, if you want change, then you must be the change you want to see. You want to see prostitution curbed? Then men need to stop keeping the prostitutes in business by not going for their services. You want to see the civil (read evil service) service changing? Then you need to stop bribing the civil servants to perform duties they are paid to do! But of course most of us are so much in a hurry to get things done easy and fast that bribing has become a way of life. It has become acceptable.

So much evil has been allowed to triumph in our society that the very moral fabric of society has been totally affected. Now, do you want to see that restored? Then it has to start with you and I. Our character needs to change. We need to cultivate a culture of doing the right things even when it is difficult to do so. Like someone said, “character is doing the right thing even when no one is looking”. You condition yourself to do the right thing all the time that it becomes a part of you.

So, as we start a new week my challenge to you is, do you have what it takes to say no to the silence that causes evil to triumph? Only you can answer that.

Wishing you all an evil-free week.

PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 16th February, 2014, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".

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