Without civic morality, communities perish; without personal morality, their survival has no value – Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British Mathematician and Philosopher
The spate of kidnapping and ritual killings in the country has taken a different dimension as youth, mostly teenagers are now involved in the dastardly act. In an attempt to make sudden wealth, these young folks, with dead conscience, indulge in acts which are capable of destroying their lives and causing an ineradicable blemish on the family image or reputation.
Sometime last year in Abeokuta, Ogun State, three teenagers were arrested for beheading and burning the head of their female friend for money rituals. The teenagers confessed, while being paraded by the police, that they saw on Facebook the guidelines on how to perform the rituals and become rich. The boys admitted that they strangled the victim and then dismembered her body parts.
The other day, a 24-year-old undergraduate of a Nigerian University was arrested for allegedly killing his 20-year old girlfriend in the same school and harvesting her organs for ritual purposes. Could it be said that these young ones have lost their conscience or that they were never taught good morals? We need not ponder much as the reason is not far fetched – poor upbringing. The family is to be faulted as parental functions have failed woefully in many quarters today. It all started from greed and metamorphosed to theft at an early age.
Not too long ago, it was revealed that mothers of these young internet scammers and fraudsters have formed an association. Shocking! Mothers who should be moral and ethical guides have turned the other way. Maybe the association is to unashamedly enable them to celebrate the unexplained wealth of their children. A new dimension of criminality which involves making rituals and harvesting of human organs, popularly called Yahoo-Plus, has now become the order of the day as compared to the regular internet scam activities known as Yahoo-Yahoo. Your child is not a dry cleaner, yet brings bales of cloth home and you as parents do not question that act. It brings to fore the question of parental functions.
The glitz and glamour of a good life are the main things the society looks forward to. No matter the way or manner an individual, whether young or old, acquires or amasses their wealth, the society applauds them with huge respect. Only the rich have a say as they are always celebrated even if their wealth is ill-gotten. Material possessions are glorified while moral values are vilified and less talked about.
It is important to state that the society is a reflection of various values portrayed by different families. Whatever obtains among young people as values prevalently speaks volumes of the families they originate from. Whoever we have become as an adult is a function of who we were at childhood. Unfortunately, attention isn’t usually paid to how good values could be instilled in children at an early stage of their lives. ‘The branches of an Iroko tree should be pruned at nursery to prevent a future damage if bigger than expected’ states a Yoruba adage which explains why a family is expected to teach their children good morals early in life.
There is no doubt that moral values form the foundation for a healthy household and in turn a sane society. The family values are good morals which include love, respect, honour, sharing and forgiveness. When a family fails to give their children the time and attention they need, it is the society that suffers the consequence. The society then begins to breed unbridled, unlettered and uncultured products.
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Some factors responsible for eroded values in a family may range from physical to psychological and could be faults of either parents or the children. They include moral value decline, social attitudinal change, family formation, social media addiction, job loss, divorce, economic hardship, infidelity, sexual/physical abuse, extended family, adoption, peer pressure among many others. These factors also explain why the society at large is threatened and remains where it is today due to the negative consequences they have on our collective well-being.
How then can these numerous challenges that are eroding important values and family units be tackled head-on? There is a guiding principle in the Holy Bible which says: ‘Train up a child in the way he should grow and when he is old he won’t depart from it’. Becoming parents isn’t just a mere status couples attain, it comes with huge responsibilities. Parenthood is not all about parenting a child, it encompasses taking charge of the whole life of that child from cradle to the age of accountability.
The erosion of family values is a pressing issue that demands urgent attention and action as the bulk does not stop at the table of government alone. The onus therefore lies on every family to be responsible for its members by preserving and enhancing good moral values. There must be a collective effort from individuals, community leaders, religious organizations and policymakers as they prioritize family values. Measures to alleviate strain on struggling families should also be put in place by concerned authorities. This way, the family can transcend adverse challenges besieging it, then by and large, we rebuild our society and restore those deteriorated values in the family system.
Ojewale is a writer based in Lagos. He can be reached via [email protected]