International Anti-Corruption Day - December 9th
written by Jakeline Laureano
AAAHHH… The politicians. Yes. Whenever you think about corruption, what's the first profession that comes to your mind? If I were to place a bet, I'd put half of my money on "politicians," and the other half on "policemen," and I'd probably win the bet twice!
I live in Brazil. I've seen corruption firsthand. My whole life. As a 33 year old black woman living in a slum such as Rocinha, the biggest of South America, all my life I've been surrounded by the lack of 'something.' Only in the last 10-15 years has corruption really been investigated in this country - even fewer were the people arrested for it - and I could finally understand why we lacked everything so much, 'cause the amount of money stolen by politicians was so enormous that one wouldn’t even know how to write the ciphers down (the numbers are that infinite).
When at school, I didn't have the experience of working in a true science lab with all the things it should have - to dissect a frog, for example. The furniture was old and falling to pieces, and we didn't have air conditioning for the hottest days - and everybody knows how hot Rio can be. When sick, I sometimes had to buy expensive medicine at my parents’ expense, even though In BR we have a public healthcare system called SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde) that should provide us with the necessary care for every illness. It's paid for by all the taxes we daily pay whenever we buy something, even a sweet.
I could point my fingers and start numbering all the things that some of the nasty politicians and cops in Brazil did and still do since the beginning of the era. I could. Instead, what I want with this text is to propose a self-evaluation. If you think you’re ready, please proceed. If not, do it anyway! Maybe, just maybe, at the end, you will see yourself in a different light. Bear with me.
I reckon many people are corrupt. Probably the right thing to say is: all of us are. Nobody is a saint. Saying that, have you ever thought about your own actions towards the world? Haven’t you ever thought of yourself as an agent of corruption? I can state: We’re all corrupt. Some are more than others.
And whether you believe me or not is not the question, 'cause as sure as I am that the sky is blue, I am of my statement. We are all corrupt.
Have you ever taken an extra cookie from the jar, even though your mom told you not to?
I bet you’re saying “Oh, Jackie, but that’s not corruption!” If you’re thinking like that, then let’s focus on the definition of the word corruption.
Cambridge Dictionary says corruption is “Illegal, bad, or dishonest behaviour, especially [especially, not only] by people in positions of power” (emphasis added).
Have you ever offered something to someone in return for some kind of advantage, even knowing that some other person would somehow be harmed?
When you vote for the mayor, the governor, or the president, I wonder if you have ever put yourself in others’ shoes, looking around and thinking about who would be the best authority to lead the people, and not only you.
When I look at the world and observe who the people in charge are, I can't help but wonder if the voters were indeed thinking about the good of the majority, or if they were only thinking about themselves. Whenever I have these thoughts, I find myself in the same shoes of those who've come before me. Probably the same shoes you are in now, dear reader.
The world is becoming selfish instead of becoming a good place for everyone. It seems to me that corruption is taking root in people's hearts and harming everybody on its way. I know that through some people's point of view, I might be wrong. but there's something inside of me ensuring that I am not.
If you ever took advantage of something you know you shouldn’t have done, that’s corruption all the way down! When you take something you shouldn't or that isn’t yours, it's corruption. When you take advantage of somebody, it's corruption. When you don't vote on the people’s behalf, it's corruption. When you are a saint but don't give anything good back to the world, you are corrupted.
So on this Anti-Corruption day, I urge you, dear reader, regardless of who you are and what you do in this world, to take a look inside yourself and understand that through your whole life you've been taking so much from this world, so would it be so bad if you also leave some good behind? And if you already are, congrats, but please ensure that it’s the best you can do.