Corruption By The Hopeless
Today’s world with a massive global GDP of over 75 trillion dollars coincides with the highest ever and yet rising inequality rates. Both of these factors combine to create irresistible motivations for corruption among the people. Today’s luxuries could not be thought of by the pharaohs of Egypt or conquerors like Alexander the Great. Unfortunately, these luxuries are not cheap and their craving is making people mad all over the world. Yearning for more luxuries, more style, more glamour and more control over such resources is the norm which is prevalent in every region of the world as technology has also made the world a global village. Such attractions are making people inclined, more than ever, towards amassing as much wealth as possible without considering the means to it. The result is massive corruption all over the world, sometimes even leading to huge financial crises gripping the entire financial system and affecting various countries and millions of people.
Even though corruption tears apart any organization or governmental structure however strong it may be, its presence in countries like Pakistan not only smothers the financial systems which are still in their infancy, but also evokes frustration in the public, hatred among the people due to widening inequality, and frequent crimes. Reasons of widespread corruption could be many but the most dangerous aspect of corruption is its rationalization among the people.
Rationalization is a dangerous aspect of corruption because once people start rationalizing their acts of corruption and fraud, there is little anyone can do to make them better citizens or better human beings. Once people are used to rationalize their corrupt actions, they start accepting their wrongs as rational and logical acts. This phenomenon is the most difficult to cater to because once people get comfortable in doing such acts and still consider themselves normal and rational beings, then rooting out such menaces from them becomes very difficult. When such a stage arises in any community, battling corruption becomes a herculean task.
Unfortunately most of the people in Pakistan in either government departments or business circles have fallen in this vicious trap. The most common rationalization here is that “everyone is doing it”. Then there are some who also say “this is how it works”. Some rationalize their corrupt behavior by the logic that they are not being paid enough and that’s the only way to get their compensation (as if they were hoodwinked into such a job or work as bonded laborers). Some people satisfy their conscience by justifying that the employers can afford it and a small percentage won’t matter. The list goes on and here we arrive at a situation where everyone gets involved and those who don’t are subsequently marginalized.
In the above circumstances, the gravest corruption is that done by those with greater responsibilities, better education or more resources. There are two reasons for that. One, that such people are the role models for others in their circles. People in general want to be like them. Their families, their friends, the people of their areas and, depending upon their popularity, the general population follow them in different aspects. The second reason is that because of their control over bigger resources, their victims increase. A fruit vendor or milkman, whom we often lambaste, has only a few victims with small losses, but when a someone like a magistrate fails to take action, or a police officer sells his or her conscience over such a matter, the vice is bound to affect thousands. When a Prime Minister or a judge of the superior court sells his or her conscience or fails to take action, the vice becomes a norm and the whole nation suffers.
Corruption by the educated or more resourceful people is also difficult to detect. Today, with automated systems and advanced technology along with complex accounting and financial structures, corruption done by the top executives often goes unnoticed. It may come to the surface at some stage but usually such big frauds are caught only when the damage has been done and people start suffering from that loss. It is not shocking that a 10-year study by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the United States found that most frauds were not isolated to one fiscal period, rather periods of fraud averaged 31 months[i]. Moreover, somewhat shocking was the finding that all 347 fraudulent firms received unqualified opinions from their auditors[ii]. The failure of those who had bigger responsibilities caused bigger losses.
The victims of such crimes are the most innocent of all because they never get to know what happened to them and how they got affected, even after the culprits are caught. The sad gravity of the situation in such cases is that neither the criminal nor the victim sees the wrongdoer as the one directly responsible for the sufferings of victims.
Corrupt people are actually hopeless and very weak individuals. Hopeless, because they have lost hope in religion, hard work and honesty. Weak, because they don’t have the brevity, guts and strength to tread the seemingly hard terrain of hard work and honesty that actually leads to eternal bliss starting with contentment and peace in this world and continuing ever after. Hopeless people become pessimists. They don’t find the strength from anywhere to resist any temptation of corruption coming their way. They stumble at every opportunity of corruption. They fall in every manhole. They see the mirage of easy money through corrupt means but finally fall in the eternal pit where darkness starts from this world and continues ever after. We, the ordinary people, remember their ephemeral holdings but forget their eternal fates.
[i] “Corporate Fraud Continues Unabated Despite Sarbanes-Oxley”, www.researchrecap.com.
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