By Fred M’membe President of the Socialist Party
The destruction of our people’s homes in Chingola is not a small thing and shouldn’t be played down. It shouldn’t be hidden in the afterthought of DMMU small reliefs of foodstuffs and promises of new land reallocations.
Without compassion, everyone is worse off.
What happened in Chingola is what happens when a government loses its moral footing, when elected officials seem to be operating without compassion. This is what happens when our politicians and their officials lack any semblance of compassion. Destroying more than 300 homes inflicts terrible and needless trauma and stress on families, especially on young children and that hampers and damages their development, causing long-term damage.
This destruction of people’s homes is morally unconscionable. That such egregious actions be employed in a nation that calls itself Christian and is supposed to put human beings above all other considerations is unjustifiable on any level. When compassion is absent, all suffer, including those who withhold it. What happens to us when there is such an extreme deficit of compassion in certain quarters of our country? I am convinced that harm results for all.
We know that compassion enhances the welfare of those who receive compassion and benefits those who are compassionate. It even benefits those who simply observe an act of compassion. Compassion is one of those experiences that deeply affects us —whether we give it, receive it, or observe it. When compassion is absent, all suffer, including those who withhold it.
We also know that being compassionate upholds our moral principles. When we restrain compassion we feel that our moral identity is compromised. That’s because compassion is central to being fully human. It is the key to reducing systemic oppression and nurturing a culture of respect, civility, and belonging.
Please know that I am not a moral philosopher. Yet understanding the nature of integrity and morality has been an important part of my life.
When I was an undergraduate university student, I discovered that there are many moral platforms. Ideas of what is right and wrong vary from culture to culture, even from person to person. But the Catholic social teachings have also given me a different way to understand human dignity, and integrity, one that looks at it through the lens of suffering. When we cause suffering to others or ourselves, our integrity is violated. When we alleviate the suffering of others, our integrity is affirmed.
At this time in our country, when we are witnessing an unbridled capitalist approach to life, we need strong moral sensitivity. We need the ability to recognise moral violations and discern which government actions are morally justifiable and which are not. We also need a large dose of moral nerve, a term used to describe someone who has non-negotiable virtue when standing above the abyss of harm.
If we do not take action against these abuses, if we hide out in apathy and do not manifest moral nerve, we will experience profound moral suffering. This is the harm caused by actions taken in our name that transgress the tenets of basic human goodness. Whether we uphold our values and ethical principles or not is what affirms or destroys our integrity, and thus our character.
As I consider what is happening in our country now, I believe our standing as a Christian nation is being seriously compromised by a serious deficit of compassion and a pervasive absence of integrity. We are facing a moral crisis that is reprehensible. We need to manifest moral nerve and compassion, now, for the sake of all.