Did you hear that one about the lads who started a revolushion without knowing how to spell…?

That’s just a joke of course – the ability to spell is the least of a revolutionary’s worries – although some education is a useful thing to have. The problem with our education is that much of it is wrong to start with. ‘Education’ here refers of course to more than the schools and colleges normally under a Ministry of Education. Every source of norms and belief systems educates us – and it doesn’t much matter if that source is called a newspaper, a mosque or a school – they all contribute to our world view of what is ‘right’ or ‘permissible’ or ‘tolerable’… in a word, to our morality. Even the most secular and atheist among us has a morality.

This is why Moral Clarity is so important. Since the basic goal of a revolution is to establish a new order, it seems obvious that to do that, the old morality has to be broken. An uprising does not a revolution make, no matter that a government falls, or a regime is replaced. It seems obvious that unless there is a comprehensive effort at establishing a new Morality, the ‘revolution’ is likely to be merely about changing personalities rather than systems.

All too often, a ‘revolution’ is provoked by the sudden rise in the cost of bread, or by the assassination of a popular politician, or simply by an amorphous but overwhelming sense of suffering. Such ‘revolutions’ may lead to a change of guard, but rarely will any sustained change for the better come from it – unless it is preceded by a Moral Clarification.

A church  congregation for instance, which revolts against the lavish and degenerate lifestyle of a pastor may gain a replacement pastor, who may be more modest – for a season – but there will be no sustained change in the system unless there is a new Moral Clarity among the congregation – perhaps a new conviction that tithes are Not the personal property of the pastor.

A similar Moral Clarification must happen on the national scale to make a revolution meaningful. Widespread moral clarity on key areas of national significance leads to systemic change. Some areas for moral clarity are

  • A prime minister is a principal servant not a chief. A head of state is a head servant, not a king. The people rule.
  • Politics is a sacrifice, not a lottery jackpot.
  • The People are the citizens, not the Companies.

Having a revolutionary spirit means that our heroine is constantly asking herself  ‘is this really right?’ – even when she is herself the beneficiary of a system. But if our so-called revolutionary is too cowardly to break with the old morality – if she cannot risk being accused of immorality by the status quo, if she is too afraid to be vilified, denigrated, by the present order…  then alternative hobbies are highly recommended – fishing, karaoke, and stamp-collection for instance do not require much spelling skills either.

4 Replies to “Revolutionary Notes: Moral Clarity”

  1. richard mammah says:

    It may also need to be said then that good revolutions really do take time to ferment. Mandela did 27 years in jail even as the South African revolution took shape. Mahatma Gandhi and co spent many years ‘trekking’ for the India we see today. In Nigeria, someone needs to go out next month and vote his or her convictions as it has to do with the crying need for good governance, anti-corruption, real development and true change. This in my view is the spelling of our own revolution today.

  2. Chuma says:

    Can’t fault you there, Richard, it can be a long haul…
    though you can also get a clear shot at goal in the first minute…

  3. Ovo says:

    In school we were made to study a subject – CRM or Christian Moral Studies – where the objective was the constant announcement and inundation of what is morally right and wrong; at least in the Christian way of thinking. Moving away from this school of thought, into adulthood, one finds the tenets of this early education as rudimentary, and inadequate, in meeting the flexible demands of social life: where the distinction from what is right and wrong can only be made from the standpoint of the one who is speaking; the one who is more powerful; or the one who has the largest following. And since every action or thought can be rationalized, one is constantly shifting positions, going across in circles in trying to do the right thing – the socially acceptable thing.

    We can ask all the existential questions, and find all the moral answers; but we will always struggle to pitch them against the robust injustices of the real world.

  4. Wawa Kawa says:

    Change like space, abhors a vacuum. You replace one system of values with another. People often view revolutions not as the process; the before, during, and after, rather as the pivotal events that change regimes. Hence, it is not the event, rather what follows that determines success and give meaning to the spirit of the day. It is the enunciation, the unravelling of the heartfelt values which give meaning to revolutions that will ultimately determine their success. We remember the principles of Liberty, Equality, Egalitarianism for the spirit they embodied.


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