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The Signs of the Time

Jul 15, 2008, 6:14 AM

It was Thomas Paine, the English essayist, who wrote, "These are times that try men's souls."  Paine was referring to the social difficulties his generation had had to grapple with. Some of these difficulties included unemployment and its attendant ills. To drive home Paine's point, we say that no age is easy if you have to live through it.

From what we read in the papers, see on television and hear on radio, we are worried that our time is just as trying as those of Paine were. Take the following headlines from yesterday's edition of The Point newspaper, for example. "Four Men Arrested for Impersonation";  "BAC Sues Former Kombo North Chief";  "Four in Trouble for Stealing Empty Petrol Gallons"; "Robbery Suspect in Court"; "Passport Impersonation Case in Court".

It is clear from these headlines that stealing in all its form is now the order of the day. Whether it is some lazy jobless people posing as public health official in order to confiscate foodstuffs to stave off hunger; or some desperate young man passing off somebody else's passport as his own in order to get to 'Babylon', it is stealing, all the same.

Why are these things happening more and more nowadays? Apparently, it is a sign of the difficult times we are living through. A bag of rice is now around one thousand dalasis; fares have gone up; rents are also soaring. Everything is just going up and up. And once they go up, they never come down again. And to worsen it, unemployment is biting hard. Youth with sound qualifications are not able to get jobs. They could be seen roaming the street. In their frustration, they either do whatever it takes to get to Europe or North America or take one of the many pathways into crime.

These are worrying signs. When young people are out of school due to financial difficulties, and those who are educated are not gainfully employed, then society should brace up for the unsavoury aspects of life - crime, prostitution, etc.

Though poverty should not be an excuse for going into crime, people's morality lowers when they are poor. Because they are poor, they become easy prey to temptations, doing things they would not ordinarily have done.

But there is a way out of this malaise that is slowly creeping into our society. The school system has to place some emphasis on self-reliance. Students should be made to believe that they could create their own jobs when they leave school. In this regards, the authorities should create the enabling environment for self-enterprise to flourish in our society.