There is this school of thought that says, “Show me a society where laws are obeyed to a large extent, and I will show you a society whose fore-fathers have bequeathed good conducts on her younger generation”. In our quest to have a better society, the need for young people to imbibe the culture of law and ethical values, cannot be over emphasized. Sociologists agree that the activities of deviants become irrelevant when the culture in any society is nothing short of worthy morals and conducts, i.e. lifestyle based on ethical behaviors. For such a society, obeying the law becomes easier. Little wonder, a foremost Greek philosopher, Plato, made the statement, “The rules that make society, possibly also make men good.’’ The facts in figures show that in most countries’ crime indexes, a younger individual is more likely to break the law, than an older person. It is therefore imperative for the younger generation to imbibe the habit of good ethical conduct and become conscious of the law. The consequences of the opposite are better imagined than experienced in the society.
Good societal ethics system are the foundation upon which laws that would be adhered to, are laid. Even in societies where laws are well publicized and people are informed; the way and manner citizens blatantly disregard the rules and constituted authorities, make one wonder what could be the problem. History tells us that the ancient Romans helped shape our modern view of law. In the 600 BC, citizens of Rome wrote down all of their basic laws on twelve bronze tablets. The Romans declared that no citizen, not even the ruler, was above the law. If logic is a key word in the 21st century, we should not expect the younger generation to imbibe the culture of law, talk more of ethical conducts in our contemporary social environment. In today’s societies, especially among the third world countries, political leaders, religious and traditional icons, openly disobey the laws of the land with impunity. Besides, almost everything is wrong about our value system. Children grow up learning bad attitudes from their parents. Leaders in the society flaunt their wealth – thus sending faulty signals to the young minds. In the same vein, these leaders constantly flaw their social contracts with the people, leaving them with the pains of social injustice. It is nearly impossible for people to regard the laws when they have been short-changed by those who made the laws. Also, societies where citizens become aware that there are laws, only when they become ex-convicts, are not the best. Cultures are imbibed at a very tender age.
Instilling the culture of ethics and law on the younger generation, as panacea for solving societal problems, is indeed a welcome one. In this light, it is essential to catch them young. At all levels of our educational institutions, civic educators must emphasize on the supremacy and sacrosanct nature of the law of the land. Parents and leaders at all facets of the society, must teach morals and live modest lifestyles, worthy of emulation. It is necessary to put legislation in place that would guide the ethical conducts of public office holders and defaulters should be prosecuted even while in office. Governments must ensure that its information, orientation and ethical agencies are not dormant. Huge funds must be budgeted for constant enlightenment and education of citizens on the laws, and not just for its implementation. Most important is the issue of social justice. Social thinkers like Socrates and Plato explained it by saying that social justice is a restraint on the individual’s capacities from doing things that lacked virtue or that made him a bad person. Leaders must deliver the dividends of whatsoever form of government they are running.
This ugly trend of crime and criminal tendencies among the younger generation can be reversed; all hope is not lost. Therefore, all hands must be on deck. It is not gainsaying to connote that “The Kingdom of God would be visible in our societies, if and only if, the present and future generations of humans exhibit good conducts and imbibe the culture of obeying the laws of the land. In fact, any society that has attained this feat can be said to be truly socialized and is on the path of sustainable growth and development.
Peter Jeremiah Osigbemhe is a member of CSAAEINC’s Network of Effective African Leaders (NEAL). He is a student of Electrical/Electronic Engineering, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria.