Morality or Legality? – By Seth Dogbey
Actions, as they say, always speak louder than words. Our actions define us a lot. An action taken at any particular point in time exposes a person’s state of mind, moral upbringing and his/her way of life. Whatever the case may be, a person’s appearance for example, at any place in relation to dressing, expressions and self control may either send off a negative signal or produce a mental satisfaction regarding what is acceptable as good or bad which tends to reveal what a person is made up of.
Through time, observations made has indicated that there are two major tests that determine whether an action taken or a deed done is either adorable or abhorable. These I have conveniently named as the morality and the legality test to correspond with the observations I have made.
With the origination or evolution of what we all accept as LAW today, most learned persons would reckon with me that, moral values and customs were the core and basis upon which laws were made. The laws made initially in the English system were moral customs and rules of particular communities or ethnic groups which were common to all the groups and hence the name common law. It is common because it is based on common sense which any mentally sound human being should poses at any material moment in time. In this regard, the rules had to be morally sound and common to all, in order to be acceptable as law. In effect, morality was the law.
Due to growing population, complexity of societies and technological advancement, the control of human behaviour or better still human management has become a knotty task for both individuals and institutions as well. The resultant regulations and laws from such situations has been unyielding set of rules devoid of moral values in the pursuit of clamping down on unacceptable behaviours while respecting `bloated’ human rights. This has necessitated the conception of the 2-way test system for our deeds and actions.
As a matter of fact, morality, instead of being the core of the law, is being made a different system which runs parallel to the legal system to the effect that the two systems have no hope of meeting at any point to determine how good or bad a behaviour is. Meaning, the moral values are gradually being completely taken out of the law. Worse than that, morality has been relegated for the application of religious bodies and traditional councils whiles legality has been upheld high as that which prevails nationally. As a result, an action taken or deed done must first of all go through the legal test before the moral test. And where it passes the legal test then there is no need for the moral test. Also, where the moral test is used first, a redress is normally sought from the legal test and as far as the legal test has been satisfied, the action is considered right under any circumstance.
The more we place our `refined’ laws ahead of our moral values, we will continue to wake up from our beds hearing of issues that has not been heard before, meeting sights that has not been seen before and getting involved in actions that has not been done before. And with that, our end cannot be told. Should we then allow our legal rights and fundamental human rights to blindfold us from seeing and upholding the necessity of our moral values? Let us be advised.
One thing that baffles me a lot is the fact that, as a nation, we profess 3 main religions. These religions as far as I know preach and require strict moral values from their members and every Ghanaian will confidently confess that he/she belongs to any of these three religions. So then, is it that our law makers and law interpreters do not belong to any religion at all or yet still they do not believe in morality? If that is the case, then some of us should begin denouncing our religious affiliations because as far as I know, none of the 3 religions will condone with indecent dressing, especially from our ladies, greed and selfishness, especially from our politicians, bribery and corruption from our public and civil servants etc. I just cannot make out where the decadence is emerging from.
With a close follow up on the Arab/Islamic nations, it is very evident that what they believe in as their Islamic morals or whatever rule considered morally sound become their national laws or legal rules and they require strict adherence to these laws from anybody who resides in the country whether the person is Islamic or not. So then, will it be that, because in Ghana we are not a single religion nation to fully enforce its morals that we face these challenges? But come to think of it, all the three religions recognised in Ghana uphold almost the same moral values separately. This is because, what is of moral value stems from common sense and must be common to all. Why are we then slacking as a nation?
This country has a Christian majority and I don’t want to believe that it is us Christians who are not doing enough to uphold the necessity of the moral values, with the sort of stories coming out of the church everyday. This is eminent because, with America being famous as a Christian nation and the kind of rottenness that emanates from the daily lives of its people, a lot is left to be desired of us Christians (notwithstanding the fact that not all Americans are Christians). It means that we Christians must buck up in morality in order to join forces with the other religions in Ghana to fight this decadence. And this must begin right from the church, if you get what I mean.
Some few years ago, a tertiary institution in this country became very critical about how its female students especially, dress on campus and outside campus as well. The authorities being alarmed by the development resorted to prescribing a dress code for its students. In the midst of the deliberations, some women lawyers were on the airwaves condemning the authorities for what they say is a breach of fundamental human rights of the students. So the questions are that; should we then allow our students to go naked on the campuses because they have the right to do so? Are these so called human right activists not mothers who should respect womanhood at least? Is this human rights stuff a web that has caught our sense of reasoning? We surely must have answers.
Recently making the waves in Ghana is the acquisition of a government bungalow by an erstwhile Minister of State and we are all struggling to come to terms with what is legally right and what is morally sound. It is true; the fact that he has performed all legal requirements to acquire the property means that he should be set free according to the law and the guardians of the law. But with this precedence, are we sure of any state property within the next 20 years? Where then lays the power of morality to pinch this chap for using political power to acquire and make his sole share, a property that belongs to over 25 million Ghanaians? And this is just because morality is being taken out of the legal system.
There is therefore this urgent call on all well meaning Ghanaians to join forces together to bring our moral values as Ghanaians back into the limelight and set the tone for a society that places gargantuan value on its morally values and customs. We plead with our religious leaders, law makers, government officials and persons in influential positions to eschew greed and selfishness as these are basically the main causes of us ignoring our moral values. The laws to be made to control human behaviour must be morally sound to uphold our culture and save our virtues as a nation. The religious leaders should also not relent but must press hard for the right things to be evidently seen to be done. These will surely propel unity and prosperity in the country as the good old book reckons that “RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALTS A NATION.”
I know not much, but that which I think, I make known. God bless Ghana.