Name: Edet, Samuel
Institution: University of Calabar.
Moral Bankruptcy: The Greatest Ethical Challenge Facing The Planet Today
It is thirty minutes past seven in the morning, Nigerian time.
I wake up to dawn in a nondescript town etched somewhere on the Nigerian map. The sun is wrapped in a shroud of glory only the iconic pens of Chinua Achebe and William Shakespeare can effectively describe. The natural world is awake as well. The cold breeze of harmattan is sweeping outside. Birds are tweeting slick, sweet songs of melody. The scene is poetic. Wiping off the night's rust on my eyes, I take up my smartphone and begin to type away. There is a question bothering my mind- what is the greatest ethical challenge facing the planet today? The keywords go pouring into the tiny space of the Google Search box but the results that return come alone without answers or clues. Discontented, I refocus attention on to the pages and headlines of some local and international news corporations. My consciousness is lighted with one fact: the planet is plagued by a litany of problems. Poverty, hunger, armed conflict, terrorism, climate change, malnutrition, global change, global warming... the list is as long as a roll of chocolates; I can almost make a book out of just listing these problems. All problems are global in reach and impact. They all induce significant ethical headaches, questions and complications. Identifying which of these problems to isolate for discussion as the greatest ethical challenge is a task outrightly cumbersome. By what parameters do I determine which of these problems qualify as the greatest challenge facing the planet today? When I say one is the ultimate , do I rule out others as lesser and less significant ? These questions create a storm in my head. The diary I had opened minutes ago to enter my thoughts on the greatest ethical challenge facing the planet remains as clean as a neatly washed dish with nothing but the question as the only sentence inscribed. After a few shakes of the head and mumblings, I cave in to the craving of desperation and give up. After a snap brush of my teeth and wash of the face, I decide to take a morning stroll on the streets of my neighbourhood. My mind is still choked up with questions and the attendant uncertainty. Three steps or so into the stroll, Archimedes' ancient voice screams its trademark interjection-eureka- My face beams with smiles. Few minutes later, I am back at home penning a sentence on the once vacant page of my diary one sentence. The sentence is lettered with sixty four characters enough to create a long tweet on Twitter: "the greatest ethical challenge facing the planet today is moral bankruptcy". Moral bankruptcy [defined simply by the dictionary as the state devoid of ethics or morality] is the greatest ethical challenge facing the planet today. It is a " hidden" and "covert" phenomenon that eludes the periscope of conferences, tabloids and summits yet one with a global reach that extends from the local community, nation and to the international. At the local global level, there is an ongoing destruction and corruption of morals and ethics. As the lustrous philosopher Godfrey Ozumba would succinctly observe , "social values are becoming a past tense". But how does this " event" fit qualification as the ultimate ethical challenge facing the planet today? The answer becomes self-evident with a critical anatomy of the state of the contemporary society. The " paucity" of ethics and morals this phenomenon has created has resulted in the prevalence of unethical behaviours and conducts. It has also destroyed core human values critical for the survival of the human race. Values of cooperation, peace, cooperation, harmony, tolerance and other virtues of their ilk have been given a back seat. Consumerism, individualism, rabid and conscienceless capitalism, primitive accumulation, wastage and other "negative virtues" have become the ground rules on which the modern superstructure, at local and global levels, has been structured. And what has been the consequences? Deepening inequality gaps, injustice, armed conflict, violence etc have become the narratives for the majority of the many billions of humans who inhabit the earth consequently. Instructively, the loss of ethics has marshalled the natural world to the throes of extinction and the global economy to a near-death experience. Interestingly, if one was to investigate the roots of the big challenges facing the planet today, one would locate the cause in ethically-deficient choices and decisions made by the individual inhabitant of the planet, in private and public capacities. Unethical choices and decisions made in business, political and social circles are what is hurting and placing the planet on the verge of impending
doom. And this is where the problem lies. At this juncture, the pertinent poser that trails the ray of thought hinges on solutions. The prime step in this wise is to incorporate the reality of this problem into the global stream of consciousness. Its time to translate this challenge, as has been done with a host of other global issues, from covert, hidden issue to a recognisable issue. Its time this challenge also receives the concentration of our verbal and mental concentration. Vibrant discourses need to be stimulated. And how do we do this? Through the digital media and social networking- two avenues that exert tremendous influence people the most in the present age. The revolutionary power of education, as encapsulated in the now legendary quote of Nelson Mandela, can also be harnessed and utilised. As a race, it also falls to us to reorient our thinking and value system. It's time we recover the humane values and discard the set of values that have done us no good. Its time for a paradigm shift; it's time we rebuild our ethical and moral capital.
In conclusion, there are many "great" ethical challenges that face the planet today but the most debilitating remains the acute lack of ethical and moral capital that has come to define our societies. And until we begin to balance our ethical and moral ledgers, as a community, society and individual, the future will continue to be bleak. For the sake of the planet and our future generations, it's time we set the spanners in motion to fix our "moral bankruptcy" problem.