OPINION

Corrupt vocations

Remarkably, the government’s anti-corruption drive has targeted four professions whose practitioners are keen to trumpet their job as a vocation: politicians, judges, priests and journalists. The notion of a vocation means much more than just earning a living. A vocation is inspired by principles and ideals; it connotes a selfless contribution to one’s fellow citizens; it implies a benign and unblemished life. Corruption and impunity provoke resentment among law-abiding citizens. At worst, they urge people to imitate unlawful behavior on the grounds that in this nation sincerity equals folly. But the consequences of graft and impunity are more serious than that. The entangled politician, the perjurer, the corrupt priest, and the journalist on the take all undermine democratic institutions. The guardians of principles and ideals have regressed into corruptors of public conscience. We have all witnessed illegal actions by politicians, scandalous court decisions, disgraceful episodes involving a priest or a fraudulent report by a journalist. Such cases, though shocking to individuals, groups of people or local communities, are quite common these days, even if the custodians of these so-called vocations pretend ignorance, innocence or rage. People react with anger, but not just that. Depending on the office or the institution that the culprits represent, such scandals reinforce the opinion that corruption originates and is blanketed from above, that any anti-graft campaign is hypocritical, and that any resistance to immorality and degeneration on an individual level is futile. This sense of powerlessness and the ensuing apathy is the most alarming effect of corruption.