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The signs of the time

Sep 30, 2013, 10:36 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. Almost on a daily basis, our courts are dealing with cases involving theft, forgery, land issues, robbery, impersonation, among others.

It is clear from these examples that stealing in all its forms is now the order of the day. Whether it is some lazy jobless people selling people’s land that do not belong to them or some desperate young person trying to swindle people of their hard earned money, 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 over 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 streets. 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 regard, the authorities should create the enabling environment for self-enterprise to flourish in our society.

‘‘No people is wholly civilized where a distinction is drawn between stealing in office and stealing a purse.’'

Theodore Roosevelt