There comes a time when an entire nation needs to pause. Two weeks after the Westgate atrocity, this is such a time.
That savage terrorists could plan such a complex attack with such ease, and execute it with such disdain, should give us pause as a nation. For that cannot be done without willing internal collaborators.
That a handful of assailants (we still don’t know how many) could hold off an elite fighting force for days, and could only be finally defeated by blowing up the mall, should give us pause as a nation. For that inability to settle the matter on the day of the attack led to goodness knows how many additional deaths, and did immense damage to our credibility.
That mobs of onlookers would gather outside the besieged mall every day, and had to be cleared with tear gas because of suspicions that they were assembling to loot the shattered properties, should give us pause as a nation. That large-scale looting occurred anyway, in what was supposed to be a secured crime scene, should cause us to slam that ‘pause’ button with our fists.
The biggest reason to pause is not because we were attacked from outside. That can happen anywhere, and worse atrocities have occurred even in better protected countries. No, the reason to pause now is because we have to contend with an even worse enemy – the one within. And that one resides in the collective heart of the nation.
If we can come across mangled bodies, souls in torment and shattered businesses – and see only watches and wallets and cash-tills to plunder, then there is a great sickness in us. This is not really news – it happens in many a road-accident and crime scene. But to happen at the spot of a national atrocity, where we were under attack as a people, and where our law-enforcers were on guard, says a little too much about us.
We have become blind worshippers of wealth. It must be grabbed by any means possible. Those who don’t have it, dream of little else. Those who already have plenty, never seem to get sated. In such a situation, all morality is moot and all ethics are expendable.
Here’s the obvious question: so what’s the answer? What do we do to haul ourselves out of this putrid pit? Don’t just complain, I hear some say – suggest solutions.
No, I won’t. Actually, I have been detailing solutions on this page for ten years now, and nothing has come of it. Better people than me have provided comprehensive roadmaps and point-by-point action plans. So what has changed?
The truth is this: we are at the pre-solution stage. We are in a place where no suggestion will take root, and all answers will fall on rocky ground. This is not the time for detailed blueprints, for we will only pretend to implement them.
No, it is time to press the pause button. What do we stand for, as a collective? Can we accept this awful, systemic collapse in morality, or are we going to say “enough!” In our own lives, are we willing to stand for virtue and exemplify it, or we all just singing the hosannas of hypocrisy?
Here’s the thing: if we don’t press the ‘pause’ button ourselves, the ‘stop’ button will be pressed for us. No society without ethics and integrity at its core survives. We will steal everything and build nothing, and then we will fail as a people. You can have all the oil and water and wildlife and vistas and entrepreneurs and investment capital and visions and strategies in the world; but if you don’t have collective decency, you have nothing.
So press the pause button. At least in your own life, if not the nation’s.