So who is right, Pink Floyd or Nelson Mandela? “Education seems to make some people better criminals! Enabling them to shift from performing petty crimes to more sophisticated white collar crimes!” OegeneTM
Ok, do not worry, Education is indeed important!
This article is not attempting to dispel Education, but it aims to highlight two other actually much more important things than education. These are critically needed since early childhood to help prevent the above statement in green, from becoming true!
These two important “things” need to ideally come before Education, because they act as a strong foundation. The problem is that many people miss the point and do not realise how important these two things are!
A STORY Lets start with a story to assist in explaining the article better: Three guys each wanted to build their ideal Large house, but they had a Huge problem! They did not have enough money. No matter how many calculations they performed, their past building experience highlighted the fact that they would not be able to build their houses. So Darall, Jason and Moof sat down and looked at their options, because somewhere they needed to cut corners:
- Their plots were situated on fairly solid ground, so they could perhaps lay a very thin foundation and leave out any steel re-enforcements; or
- Instead of building a normal double wall, they could attempt a single wall; or
- They could buy roof tiles at a ¼ of the price from a company called Charlatan discount tiles.
They could not decide which of the above options to choose from, so they decided to write numbers on 3 straws and then each draw a straw. Straw 1 would represent the foundation, number 2 the wall and straw number 3 the roof. Jason pulled number 1, Darall drew number 2 and Moof got number 3 and off they went with their building projects. All went well they believed, because they were able to finally build their ideal homes.
Jason, Darall and Moof eventually moved into their houses, happy and content to start living! However, … Yes, there is obviously a “however”, because not one of them kept to the minimum building standards. This is what happened:
- Moof’s roof lost tiles as soon as a strong wind started blowing and some cracked in the harsh sun;
- Darall’s walls started cracking under the weight, as the single layer of bricks could not handle the weight. Not only did his wall start cracking, but his roof also lost tiles and started cracking, as the roof was resting on the wall; and
- Jason’s foundation eventually cracked and sagged, causing a chain reaction of events, as the walls sagged and cracked which in turn meant that the roof resting on the walls also started collapsing.
Jason’s life was a total mess, Darall’s life was also quite impacted, but not as bad as that of Jason’s, while Moof had the least of the problems. Jason had to start all over with his life (house), Darall had to decide whether to start a total new life (house) or try and fix his messed up life (house), because at least his foundation was still strong, although there was still many other problems, while Moof’s life had the least of problems, as his foundation and walls were still good and strong to build a new roof on.
The moral of this story is that:
- The foundation is the most critical part; and
- There should not be any shortcuts taken when it comes to building a house (actually in life as well).
So what does the above story have to do with this article? You will soon see…
The extract below comes from a 2014 Honors Theses by Joseph Martinez called “Unpunished Criminals: The Social Acceptability of White Collar Criminals in America”, which could apply to South Africa as well:
If I look at the above, it is rife in South Africa with crime and corruption mostly being the main topic of every newspaper. South Africa’s corruption perception ranks high compared to other countries.
Some people may say “it is the kids of today”, but when looking at the large “white collar” crimes, it is mostly older more mature individuals, many in senior positions (earning a good income) and well educated, responsible for white collar crimes. So they should know what they doing is wrong, yet it somehow does not really bother them!? So what is the problem here? How can a clever mature person not really be bothered? Something seems to be missing in their lives, but what is it? This article will attempt to unravel this “mystery”.
I am not going to unpack Education and the importance of it, as we all know that it is important, but I want to spend some time below on the other two issues that are actually more important and the (root) cause of white collar and other criminal activities.
- SO WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EDUCATION FOR KIDS?
4.1 A short answer:
Let us get back to the story above. Education is the “roof” of the house, as it protects you when there is bad weather (when times are tough, you may need to fall back and rely on your education). So yes, education for children is important, as every house needs a good roof (just as in life, you need good education to (financially) protect you). However, having a “house” with only a roof (a life with only education) is not enough, you need walls.
So what would the walls of the house represent? I consider “Ethics” as the walls of a house! Yes, education needs to be “built” on good Ethics, so Ethics is more important than Education! (unfortunately, I do not see this actively being promoted @ School). Nelson Mandela said that “Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world”!, but if it is not based on Ethics, it just makes a criminal more sophisticated. Can Ethics be taught? Partly, but there is one more thing even more important than Ethics I will get to later (the foundation).
Before I get to the even more important thing, let us first discuss Ethics in a little more detail below (a lot of the information light Blue below is extracted from other articles):
A sociologist Raymond Baumhart asked business people “What does ethics mean to you?” and he got the following answers:
- Ethics has to do with what my feelings tell me is right or wrong.”
- “Ethics has to do with my religious beliefs.”
- “Being ethical is doing what the law requires.”
- “Ethics consists of the standards of behaviour our society accepts.”
- “I don’t know what the word means.”
This extract identifies ethics as:
- Well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. Ethics, for example, refers to those standards that impose the reasonable obligations to refrain from rape, stealing, murder, assault, slander, and fraud. Ethical standards also include those that enjoin virtues of honesty, compassion, and loyalty. And, ethical standards include standards relating to rights, such as the right to life, the right to freedom from injury, and the right to privacy. Such standards are adequate standards of ethics because they are supported by consistent and well-founded reasons.
- Secondly, ethics refers to the study and development of one’s ethical standards. As mentioned above, feelings, laws, and social norms can deviate from what is ethical. So it is necessary to constantly examine one’s standards to ensure that they are reasonable and well-founded. Ethics also means, then, the continuous effort of studying our own moral beliefs and our moral conduct, and striving to ensure that we, and the institutions we help to shape, live up to standards that are reasonable and solidly-based.
So ethics entails moral principles and what is good and bad for society. There is however a problem here, as each person may have a different idea of ethics! Some for instance would believe that abortion or euthanasia or eating meat is justified, while other do not. So there is not one correct answer to what is defined as acceptable ethical behaviour. Ethics should however be a concern about society in general and people should give some thought (a well developed
brain would help here…) to something beyond themselves. A good guide on what is ethical and unethical is to look at the general laws, regulations and rules, as they aim to prom` ote Ethical behaviour, protect an individual and society in general!
On the face of it, it [ethical realism] means the view that moral qualities such as wrongness, and likewise moral facts such as the fact that an act was wrong, exist in rerum natura, so that, if one says that a certain act was wrong, one is saying that there existed, somehow, somewhere, this quality of wrongness, and that it had to exist there if that act were to be wrong.
R. M Hare, Essays in Ethical Theory, 1989
From the above the term “Wrongness” is used, a nice word to describe the issue. Now this article tried to steer away from religion, but where else is good guidance on right and wrong? Well, apart from the Bible, the obvious other “guide” is to look at all the rules, laws and regulations that a country, companies and people have put in place. A stop street is there for a reason and the Stop sign is a guide to an “ethical” behaviour. If the tax act states you have to pay tax, then that tax act is a guide to an “ethical” behaviour and so on.
- 4.3 Some simple examples of unethical behaviours
- Let us start with a country’s laws and regulations. These have actually been set to protect society (others) from harm and are thus there for a reason!? If a person starts “Bending” the rules, they are sure on their way to becoming unethical and it often leads to them later breaking these laws (bending rules is the first step towards unethical behaviour). There are so many rules and regulations out there, that I would write a 1000 page book just on this, but let me highlight just a few road rules being broken every day:
- Driving on the Yellow line
- Continuing through a Red Robot
- Driving straight where an arrow indicates that you need to turn left
- Driving in an area where you need to turn to take an off ramp, buy just with the intention to push in front of the queue going straight ahead
- Or the new disturbing trend where people drive on the wrong side of the road to skip the traffic!
- I have seen the above rules being broken at an increased rate during the past 3 years, a disturbing (unethical) trend.
Unethical behaviour also includes a combination of any of the below:
- Laziness/low productivity
- Tender fraud
- Tax evasion
- False claims
- Price fixing
- Ghost employees
- Data theft
- Shaming others
- Pyramid schemes
- Obtaining an unfair advantage
- Dishonesty (e.g. “The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favour with him” from Proverb 11:1).
- and many more
4.4 Laws, regulations, jail sentences, fines and even the death sentence may not solve the problem!
Oegene’s aim is to focus on the Root causes instead of the Symptoms. The problem with a jail sentence or speeding fine for instance is that it attempts to focus on the Symptoms. Some people receiving a jail sentence may get deterred, but if Ethics is not in their core and nature, they will later, once freed, commit another crime.
According to www.Vox.com, the following horrified (USA) statistics is a reality:
76 % of all inmates end up back in jail within 5 years
So this adjacent picture does not seem to work! You must have heard the saying “Once a Criminal. Always a criminal”…
A person that is inherently Unethical, will NOT necessarily get deterred by a jail sentence, because it is almost “in their Blood” to be unethical, almost like a (bad) habit that they cannot get rid of.
“Whoever loves discipline, loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” – Proverbs 12:1
4.5 Setting an example What if parents try and teach their children Ethics, but they drive through a Red robot on a regular basis? Or they drive on a solid yellow line or skip a queue and push (or even force themselves) in front of a vehicle queue, while their children are in the car?
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” – Proverbs 22:6 The problem with such behaviour is that at first the dad/mom feels guilty (I hope), but as they continue doing it, they become use and indifferent to it and that becomes their new norm while their “cleaver” children sit and watch, being indirectly “taught” that it is “OK” to do the same! A person may believe that if they break a petty law, it will not cause harm, but what if everybody decides to do the same? That is when the chaos starts. Another problem is that if they start performing “small” unethical acts, it will probably “grow” into bigger ones: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” – Luke 16:10
Another further problem is that many people (and children) noticing someone breaking the law starts arguing that “if they can do it, so can I” and more and more people do the same, causing traffic jams to many other’s frustration (remember above that a law is in place to protect others/society?). Someone’s unethical behaviour thus causes discomfort to others, so they are impacting them negatively and worst of all, they are “teaching” their children and others around them (who do not have a strong ethical foundation) to believe that it is alright to do the same.
Just imagine you take your children with to a drug deal?! They look up to you and think the world of you. Your actions (or lack of action) is their guide in life, so when they see you secretly handing over white powder and collecting lots of cash for it, that will become their “norm” going forward. Parents, teachers and general society that children come in direct contact with and even indirect contact via social media, news papers, television, etc…, are all responsible to ensure good Ethics are instilled in all children for a better future of humanity. However, if I look at what our movies and soap operas are communicating (e.g. gun use, murders, jealousy, cheating, bribes, money, stealing, etc.) and I know our children are watching and “learning”, then I can see where our Ethics are going… It does not help to ignore Ethics and focus on Education only, because all you will do is to make unethical people more clever to perform more elaborate unethical schemes.
But wait, there is actually one more thing that is even more important that Ethics! The real foundation on which Humanity needs to be built on! The Foundation that will result in many people automatically being Ethical!
Before I get to this, just one last thing about Ethics.
4.6 A quick look at the 7 deadly sins, also a form of unethical behaviour
The below is extracted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins:
1 Lust which leads to fornication, adultery, rape, bestiality, un-natural sexual practices and other immoral sexual acts. However, lust could also mean simply desire in general; thus, lust for money, power, and other things are sinful. Lust is the ultimate goal of almost all human endeavor, exerts an adverse influence on the most important affairs, interrupts the most serious business, sometimes for a while confuses even the greatest minds, does not hesitate with its trumpery to disrupt the negotiations of statesmen and the research of scholars, has the knack of slipping its love-letters and ringlets even into ministerial portfolios and philosophical manuscripts.
2 Gluttony is the overindulgence and overconsumption of anything to the point of waste and thus withheld from the needy. Gluttony can be interpreted as selfishness; placing one’s own interests above the well-being or interests of others. During times of famine, war, and similar periods when food is scarce, it is possible for one to indirectly kill other people through starvation just by eating too much or even too soon.
3 Greed is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of desire. However, greed is an artificial desire and pursuit of material possessions. The hoarding of materials or objects, theft and robbery, especially by means of violence, trickery, or manipulation of authority are all actions that may be inspired by greed. The need and greed for money and possessions makes it to become his “god”, a desire to acquire or possess more than one needs.
4 Sloth is defined as an absence of interest or habitual disinclination to exertion. A person becoming indifferent to their duties and obligations, being indifference to work due to laziness, idleness, and indolence. A failure to do things that one should do. Sloth is a sin of omitting responsibilities.
5 Wrath can be defined as uncontrolled feelings of anger, rage, and even hatred. Wrath often reveals itself in the wish to seek vengeance. In its purest form, wrath presents with injury, violence, and hate that may provoke feuds that can go on for centuries. Feelings of wrath can manifest in different ways, including impatience, hateful misanthropy, revenge, and self-destructive behavior, such as drug abuse or suicide.
“People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing” — Will Rogers
6 Envy, like greed and lust, is characterized by an insatiable desire. It can be described as a sad or resentful covetousness towards the traits or possessions of someone else. Malicious envy is similar to jealousy in that they both feel discontent towards someone’s traits, status, abilities, or rewards.
7 Pride is considered, on almost every list, the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins: the perversion of the faculties that make humans more like God—dignity and holiness. It is identified as dangerously corrupt selfishness, the putting of one’s own desires, urges, wants, and whims before the welfare of other people. In even more destructive cases, it is irrationally believing that one is essentially and necessarily better, superior, or more important than others, failing to acknowledge the accomplishments of others, and excessive admiration of the personal image or self (especially forgetting one’s own lack of divinity, and refusing to acknowledge one’s own limits, faults, or wrongs as a human being). Pride is generally associated with an absence of humility and may also be associated with a lack of knowledge.
- NOW WHAT IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN ETHICS FOR KIDS?
Yes, there is still something more important than Ethics! What is needed for a house is a good and strong foundation! Ethics represented the wall of the house in our story above, but Life also needs a good and strong foundation. Above I only discussed the “Roof” of the house (Education) and the “Walls” of the house (Ethics), but the Foundation (?) is the most important of them all. In the story above we saw that Jason had the biggest of problems, because he was the only one with a weak foundation!
So what is more important than Education and more important than Ethics? In an article entitled “Breaking the Chain”, I actually cover this “most” important aspect! I suggest you read it, as it contains much more detail and scientific evidence, but briefly:
I child that grows up with only one of their parents or with no parents and/or who have both their parents, but who are neglected by them, experiences the following:
– Believe it or not, but their brains develop slower and stays smaller!
– Less neurons and smaller brains mean they find it more difficult to distinguish between right and wrong , which makes teaching Ethics very difficult
– They tend to become less affectionate and prone to criminal activities, depression and other mental problems.
This more critical important thing is collectively called “Love”. Without Love (and attention, but it actually comes naturally with Love), society is doomed! It forms the Foundation. Without it, Ethics is very difficult to teach and without Ethics, Education, no matter how well, means little, as you will be stuck with a country that is riddled with cleaver (educated) criminals. If we look at the common saying “it is the kids of today”, then we should add “due to the parents/adults of yesterday” to that sentence, because if they (the kids) were not given Love and attention, taught Ethics and had great examples to follow, the parents/adults are to blame for the “kids of today”…
The message should have come through loud and clear above!?
If I had to express it in a formula, it would probably be:
Love > Ethics > Education
Love + Ethics + Education = Good Life
Love first, then Ethics will be easier to teach or will actually come naturally and then only focus on Education (I have actually not even touched on Religion which is in all of the above and actually the Foundation or Foundations). In the story above, Religion would be Earth on which the 3 guys dug their house foundations, then built their walls and then erected their roofs on top. If the “link” between Earth and their Foundation is not good, no matter how strong their foundation, the rest of the house would be at risk, but this article has mostly steered away from religion. However, I must just say that it is quite a “coincidence” that the most important commandment in the Bible is “Love” and that God = Love…
So God gave the answer (solution) a few thousand years ago, yet after all our “Education” since then, many still remain Unconsciously Incompetent and still do not get it! (Love first…)
If we therefore had to add religion to the mix, the formula would look like this:
Religion + Love + Ethics + Education = Best Life
- THE REQUIRED RECIPE
Our country, actually all countries, the World, needs the following “Five Big” steps (excluding Religion for now):
- Parents must Love their children and give them the attention they deserve from as early as when they are babies;
- Both adults should be present in their lives;
- Ethics should be taught to children from an early age;
- Adults should must set the (good) Ethical example; and then
- Education is needed.
You do not build a house starting with the roof, then building down to the walls and finally install the foundation!
Excluding the even more important religion part, we must start with a strong foundation (Love), then proceed building strong walls (Ethics) and once complete, put up a strong roof (Education), which will allow each to move into a secure house and live a good life.
- A WARNING
Even if someone has a solid foundation, the media, friends, family and good advertising can still lure people into wanting stuff and wanting stuff NOW. This is a Huge risk that will remain with you for the rest of your life. You see a friend just bought themselves a shiny new car, you see an advert of people going on a beautiful holiday. You hear your uncle just got a huge promotion, you …. And all these things happening around you has an impact on you and become temptations. Temptations for you to also want that stuff, Temptations for you wanting them now, Temptations for you to become Unethical to get the stuff, so even if you have a strong foundation, there will always be temptations that you need to fight against