Eroded values: Cleric, others proffer solutions
• ‘Values Are The Ethos Guiding Our Daily Lives, They Are The Unwritten But Memorised Codes By Which We Live’
The older generation never stops to reminisce on the ‘good old days,’ when society respected virtues and values, that the occasional aberration was frowned upon and vehemently resisted. Then, family name was cherished and placed far above material wealth. The different groups that were considered pillars of society stood faithfully at their duty posts, responsibly discharging their allotted tasks. Parents were exemplary role models, who delighted in proper grooming of their children. Teachers were appreciated and given their due, a gesture they reciprocated by providing the much-needed enduring foundation for their students. The leaders were also mindful of their conducts and aspirations, knowing full well that everyone looked to them for direction and good examples. Indeed, all hands were on deck to build a wholesome society, where responsible, focused and decent persons were nurtured.
Over the years, however, things have not been the same, as all these have been thrown overboard. The quest for money and earthly fame has eclipsed all else, so much that nothing appears sacred or strong enough to deter the flagrant abuse of all society once held dear and which defined the people.
In trying to identify causes and proffer solutions to the decline, several quarters have pointed accusing fingers at dwindling values, which have been gradually eroded over the years.
A cleric with The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Abayomi Ogunfidodo, said in the late 70s and early 80s, the society was held together by a higher moral code, which determined the value system. Elders in the neighbourhood were responsible for the training of the younger ones.
He said: “And when they reprimanded you, you dare not regale your experience(s) at home, else your woes would continue. It would be further exacerbated, if the elder followed you home to make a formal report of your misbehaviour. This singular act exerted maximum punishment that could only be terminated by a reversed punishment i.e. your parents would beat you back to the elder’s house, who would now plead on your behalf.
“Values are the ethos guiding our daily lives. They are the unwritten but memorised codes by which we live. Then, short cuts to anywhere or anything (success, wealth, fame and fortune) were abhorred. Sudden wealth would surely alert prying eyes of neighbours, sneering remarks of friends and the jeers and taunts from family. The only known route was hard work. Then, hard work really and only truly paid, but not anymore.
“Now, success without preparations, wealth without work is being celebrated everywhere. Overnight millionaires are getting chieftaincy titles and honorary degrees, and nobody dares raise an eyebrow. Mothers started assigning corporal punishment of children to themselves alone. Even schools were mandated to ‘Touch not my anointed child.’ Churches became grounds for celebrating wealth and prosperity-only sermons gained prominence. This birthed prosperity-pastors, 419ers, Yahoo-Yahoo boys, ritualists and kidnappers became lords of the manor, as they are being celebrated.
“These days, a singing, dancing and beauty pageant would draw a prize of over 1000 percent of what an essay, Mathematics or spelling competitions would. And we continue to glamorise inanities.”
On the way forward, Ogunfidodo said: “We must return to the drawing board. Moral instructions must be brought back and differentiated from the Religious Studies, because they are not the same. Government must deliberately create a social system, where basic needs of the populace are given. We must become ‘our brother’s keepers,’ just as we must get interested in what they do and don’t, for it would rub off on all eventually. Sudden riches or wealth must not be celebrated, as it denigrates hard work. Whistleblowing policy should become a way of life to curb the excesses of our leaders on all spheres.
“Where a case of economic crime has been proved, punishments to show that crimes does not pay must be meted out. ‘Sacredcowism’ must be prevented. The home is the breeding ground of the society and as such, it must be sanitised. There must be a generational paradigm shift from this moral decadence for the society to stand a chance of regenerating itself or else the doomsday prediction shall be gory.”
But Helen Oshikoya, CEO, Nobelova Gradani Psychoeducational Services said it should be understood that times are changing, just like people are evolving.
She said: “For instance, the weather is not what it used to be. There are several instances of climate change due to global warming. Over time, man has moved from one location to another, while global trading and commerce, culture/tourism has become profitable. This has now been termed as “globalisation,” which has opened our society to the accompanying whims and caprices. We now have imported values, culture, beliefs, tradition, ideology, propaganda, relationship, education, technology, fashion and music, among others. The list is endless.
“Even religion, which so many societies hinge on as their moral code, is not what it used to be. For example, in Africa, we had a life, a system of belief that judged our morality and what was acceptable as morally “right or wrong.” Then, came along the Western religion, (Christianity) which discarded our belief and tagged it “evil and sinful.” Hence, our generation now accepts this as truth and disdains our original beliefs. To that extent, this was where we missed the point and the journey to moral decadence began for us in Nigeria. And not only have we accepted the Western religion, we have also accepted their system of government and culture and we have not updated it with our own rich traditions. This has affected how we exist as a society.
“I was watching television the other day, and I was angry at what was being projected on the screen! The music, home videos, cartoons, etc., are no longer portraying values that we used to hold dear. The most shocking of indecency extends to even advertisements of products as simple as Biscuits! All this demise, in conjunction with lack of home training, has posed serious threat to the posterity of our societal values.”
So, how can our value system be restored?
She urged parents to hold their wards firmly, while they are still very young, and not spare the rod to spoil the child, as the Bible says.
She explained: “There is need for parents to instill right values in their children, so that they can in turn pass the right values to the next generation. Additionally, the school is another agent of socialisation. There should be a conscious inclusion of courses that instill moral conducts and judgment of the original Nigerian society. We should be reminded of our history and culture. This will in turn help us to appreciate our heritage and background.
“Also, the government has a role to play in abolishing moral decadence in the society. Government should have the society in mind, when extending its tentacles to the states. Government officials should set example by obeying laws of the land and not granting themselves so-called office “immunity.” Thieves should not be celebrated and awarded honours on television or the social media. Rather, such should be discouraged, so as not make it a norm in the society. This portrays us as a people that reward embezzlement. People or persons that have shown or exhibited exceptional abilities in the society should also be scholarly awarded and celebrated.”
Debo Ayobade, a sociology lecturer at the University of Lagos, is of the view that values are eroding because society has abandoned everything that is traditional and embraced modern way of life.
“Kneeling down to greet one’s parents has become obsolete, and it is no longer modern,” she said. “Children are greeting their parents on WhatsApp, instead of kneeling down or prostrating as Africans. We have refused to put these children through. Even, some parents’ morals should be questioned, because when we neglect our tradition or heritage and embrace what we don’t know how it originated, what do we expect?
“We have so many challenges in this nation. High moral was a norm; it was part and parcel of our culture. But now, only a few people see taking what does not belong to them as wrong, while others see it as being smart. That is what is giving rise to such vices as robbery, kidnapping and so on. Just look at young boys and girls that are full of energy going into money rituals. These young ones are desperate to get rich quick and want to ride exotic cars and build houses that their parents didn’t have, rather than channeling their energy into positive activities. Parents no longer question how their children make money. And gradually our values have been eroded to the point we are now, where nobody cares again. Hard work is no longer appreciated. It is just what you get and not how you get it.”
Proffering solution, Ayobade said there is need to return to the basics and begin again to embrace our culture.
“We have our own way of doing things. The society should punish people that have deviated from set standard. We should call a spade a spade and do things rightly. If we don’t act fast, it will get worse. Our value system is in serious trouble and custodians of morals should wake up and handle this challenge. Parents have a big responsibility to play in upholding moral values devoid of compromise and lead by example for their children to follow.”
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