February 26, 2004
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Slackness may be described for the purpose of this editorial as a lack of discipline and an unwillingness to comply with the law in any shape or form, be it the rules of the road, the law against noise nuisances, the law of libel, the copyright law, building regulations, the law against littering, city bylaws, the tax laws including customs duty, indeed that whole legal structure that undergirds a well established democratic society in which the rule of law prevails.
Regrettably, slackness in now a fairly widespread condition in this society. Part of it is due to the slow and inefficient manner in which the courts function so that transgressors can get away with a whole lot of things which would not be possible in a more structured society. Part of it is due to our turbulent political past, the upheaval in the early sixties and the subsequent rigged elections and the paramountcy of the party, slackness became almost a way of life. Part of it is the self-contempt that is a lingering inheritance from colonialism.
That slackness explains so much of what is now wrong with the society. There can be no real development without discipline and rules that are enforced. If the law is openly and regularly breached it breeds a deep cynicism, apathy and despair. People begin to feel that nothing matters, nothing is really serious, it's all a big rather lawless game and anything goes.
It is one thing to describe the pathology, quite another to prescribe treatment. The fragility of the culture is a severe impediment to nation building. Half the country is looking outward for salvation in the shape of a green card or a visa, the other half is marking time and waiting to see what will happen. Few have the energy to try to think things out, fewer still have the vision to build for the future. Far too few feel even moderately hopeful.
Even the apparently overwhelming ethnic problem is ultimately a diversion arising from poverty, a sense of futility and a lack of real achievement. Perhaps the slackness in all its manifestations is partly a visible, churlish manifestation of hopelessness and alienation, a throwing in of the towel, a confession of defeat and, at heart, a cry for help, for something useful and worthwhile to do, a revolt against foolishness, trivia and the backward and shallow attitudes that are so prevalent.