Last week, I was honoured to be engaged to facilitate an Integrity Workshop with youth in Gaborone. Prefects from the senior secondary schools were invited to University of Botswana as Botswana Centre for Public Integrity sponsored and organised an event meant to build Integrity Champions!
My job was to spend the day with this wonderful group of around 80 youth to teach and instil ethical values with the hope that if we invest now into the moral wellbeing of our future leaders, we will offensively fight the corruption which is destroying our beloved nation! In today’s column, I want to explain why I think this was an amazing initiative and encourage us to invest into more of these types of events!
Psalms 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
The Bible is clear that as parents and leaders, we are encouraged to train our children in the way they should go. God even gives us further clarification on how to do this – by teaching them God’s word so that it remains a road map etched into their soul, warning them internally when they begin to walk out of the light and into the darkness.
At the end of the Integrity Workshop I was leading, when certificates of attendance were handed out to the pupils, a speech was given by a former Director General of the DCEC. He said something that both discouraged and encouraged me. He stated that fighting corruption once it is happening is extremely hard! First you have to find out it is happening, which takes whistle blowers – those are usually few and far between. Then, you must prove it is happening on paper with concrete evidence, which is usually very difficult to obtain. Then, using limited State legal resources, you must defeat and prove this case in court against people who have become extremely wealthy and are prepared to pay for the best legal counsel and find legal loopholes, not to mention use their power and connections to escape the wheels of justice from prosecuting them.
Then, he said that on the RARE occasion that a corrupt leader is convicted, the amount of money and resources it takes to seize the property and assets becomes sizeable and offsets that which is recovered! Honestly, it is a sad reality!
Therefore, he concluded, teaching people strong moral standards so that they do not WANT to participate in obtaining ill-gotten gain is the only real hope we have.
My fellow friends, please let’s not take God’s advice lightly! We can and should invest our time and resources into raising youth who understand WHY they shouldn’t participate in sins that will ultimately destroy themselves and their country.
During the workshop, we had fruitful dialogues discussing that corruption happens when a person acts in a selfish manner in which they care more about their personal gain than the effect their actions will have on others.
We then had a lively discussion as to what exactly the effects of corruption are on individuals and the community at large. There were group discussions and heated debates as we tackled questions like, “Is there ever justification in stealing and lying for selfish gain?” By the end of the day, after spending 7 hours hashing out these issues in detail with loads of interaction, games, sketches, and time for personal introspection, they got it!! I mean they really GOT it!
They weren’t just repeating back to me that living a life of integrity was important. They could articulate clearly WHY it is of paramount importance to our nation and our individual mental health that each one of us take responsibility to do the right thing EVEN WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING or we think NO ONE WILL FIND out! I praised God as some of the youth, feeling conviction, began to write down names of people they have bullied, teachers they have disrespected, school property they have vandalised, money they have stolen and were volunteering to apologise and make things right. They understood that acknowledging and then confessing their wrong doings was the first step in true repentance to change their actions.
They also understood that our merciful God is faithful to forgive and has His arms reached out to embrace the person who desires to walk in Truth and Love. They were beginning to understand the truth of 1 John 5:3 – that God’s commands are not burdensome but given to keep us from entangling ourselves in sin that destroys us!
They were grasping the significance in the command to love others as you love yourself means not participating in actions that cheat and rob others.
They were grasping that we are all in this country together. One person’s actions, even the ones done in secret and behind closed doors, will ultimately have a domino effect to affect many.
Role plays were acted out as we explored just how far the tentacles of one person’s selfish decision goes and how many families will eventually be affected and hurt.
Next week, I will go into more details of my discussions with the youth. Most of us know, on a national level, that it is like a cancer, slowing eating away at our nation’s bright future, but it seems we don’t spend enough time explaining that same cancer slowing eats away at the person who is deceived to think ill-gotten gain will lead to personal success and happiness. Next week we will go deeper into some of those issues.
Let me leave you with this verse that I pray often for our nation. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
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Ashley Thaba is a popular life coach, Team building facilitator and motivational speaker. She is also the author of Conquering the Giants and Dive In. You can view some of her work on her YouTube channel: Ashley Thaba.