Kenyans of every creed assemble regularly in religious houses and with bended knees and in solemn supplication commune with their maker. And there could never be a more solemn petition than the opening words of Kenya’s national anthem.
The fabric of our society is dyed in faith and religion, a testament of unsullied ethical or moral tendency. At this point I am reminded of the story Jesus told about a man fell among thieves on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was beaten, stripped and left half dead. A priest and Levite happened to walk by and saw the man lying half dead but they did not stop to help him.
A Samaritan came by on his animal. He stopped and poured oil and wine and dressed the man’s wounds. He put the man on his animal and took him to an inn. He paid for his upkeep and asked the innkeeper to look after the man and he would settle accounts on his return.
Jesus told this parable in response to a teacher of the Law who asked him “who is my neighbor?” I would like us to consider a different question; who is a Kenyan citizen? To respond to this question, I would like to share a story with you.
In 2014/15 the Aga Khan University conducted a surveyed about 1900 Kenyans aged between 18 and 35 years. Fifty percent believed it doesn’t matter how one makes money as long as one does not end up in jail. About 73 were afraid to stand up for what is right for fear retribution. Another 47 percent admired those who make money by hook or crook.
About 30 percent believed corruption was profitable and another 35 percent said they would take or give a bribe. Only 40 percent thought it was important to pay taxes. On political participation, 40 percent said they would only vote for a candidate who bribed them. About the future, 40 percent believed our society will be more corrupt, and 30 percent believed the country would be poorer in ethics and we would see a surge in substance abuse.
If this is how the youth of this country think and would act, the future is in peril. I don’t know about you but these statistics paint in my mind a picture of a society that has been assaulted, stripped, bleeding and left morally half dead.
In response to the state of our country many of us have chosen to act like the priest and the Levite. Consumed by our own busy lives and a lack of courage to stand up for what is right, we choose to walk by on the other side.
This dark moment of grave ethical and moral crisis summons all of us to stand up and live up the true meaning of citizenship. Citizenship is like being the Good Samaritan. We must get engaged in the inconvenient task of attending to the urgent issues that confront our society.