The vital few, the trivial many

The vital few, the trivial many

Doubt that friend, who always croons sweet praises in your face, for his dagger will run deep once you turn your back. Apparently, there is a little Judas in almost all of us. We are very deft at putting up appearances that are contrary to our true characters and intentions.  We are decadent hypocrites at best who are oblivious to the impact of our actions. 

There are those, however, who are openly impish. They don’t see the need to play good while they harbour evil intentions. These individuals are true to themselves. But given the opportunity, they are quick to breach the arbitrary social contract that allows communities to thrive in peace and harmony.  Which of the two evils is better or lesser than the other is up to individuals to decide on their own.  To make use of oxymoron, I seriously doubt if there will ever be benevolent evil. Bad is just bad and can only get worse.  Hypocrites come in disguises. They will lead you astray without your knowledge.

But they are also fearful, that’s why they prefer to remain furtive in their sinister endeavours. Once exposed, they are easy to deal with. Plus they are always driven by ulterior motives: greed, jealousy and other petty causes.  Those who are openly bad are a whole different species. Once they get the upper hand they literally enslave others without apprehension. They are pertinacious and act with malice aforethought for no apparent reason.  

There are only two ways routes out of their grip, to live on your knees and forever hold your peace or die on your feet and be relegated into oblivion. Any attempts at converting such individuals have always proved painfully futile.  In governance they create a culture of impunity. This is when people, both as private individuals and in their official capacities, believe that they can do as they please and never to be held accountable. And oh how deeply rooted that culture is at home here!

A section of our society now actually believes that they belong to a clique of the ‘vital few’ and the rest of us are the trivial many. Since our opinions, needs and sufferings are insignificant, why should it matter then if we live or die? True manifestation of a culture of impunity is a recent report that over 400 standard seven leavers who failed their exams were found in government secondary schools in Kigoma Ujiji. One had over 160 students who all admitted that they were not supposed to be there in the first place.

How such a not-so-difficult-to-detect number of students managed to find their way into government schools remains an issue of contention, but one thing for certain is that someone (or some people) felt they could bend a few rules and get away with it and they went ahead and did precisely that. It is very rare to see people being held accountable here.

I have a strong feeling that nothing will become of all those found responsible for enrolling failed pupils into government secondary schools. Let’s wait and forget.  The culture of impunity has led to intractable corruption and patronage structures that are entirely without morality. Sadder is even the fact that morality here has not been used to substitute functionality. You know, where the end makes good of the means. 

On the contrary, lack of morality in its entirety is slowly and surely turning ours into a dysfunctional society. And as testimony to the aforementioned fact, doctors have gone on strike, for the second time in less than two months.  They want the Minister for Health and Social Welfare and his deputy to be axed from the government. As it is, we have one of the lowest doctor to patient ratio in the world: one doctor to 30,000 patients, or the whereabouts. 

The figures alone show that there is an already shortage of doctors even when all are on duty. Humility would have dictated that a strike is not an optimal option; there could be better avenues for the doctors to address their grievances. By virtue of being ‘the vital few’ coupled with lack of morality, the consequences of the doctors’ actions do not seem to bother them, that the trivial many will suffer and perhaps die as a result of the strike is not a matter of substance vis-à-vis their pressing need to see the two ministers exit.

Similarly, under current circumstances, conventional wisdom would also have dictated that the dear minister and his deputy resign out of their own volition to spare us, the trivial many, great suffering and perhaps unnecessary deaths.  For two individuals to be blamed for the great suffering and deaths of an unknown number of people would seem like an unbearable burden to the ordinary conscience. These are trying times and indecisiveness will have grave consequences.

Still, one wonders if it is worth it for one to remain a cabinet minister at the expense of countless innocent souls. And if that is the case, it surely gives a whole new meaning to public service. 


Author: Kilasa Mtambalike

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