Better Isn’t Always Good But It’s Always Better 746.2

I am recording this Lagos, Nigeria. I’m here to meet with private citizens and government officials to talk about bringing CHARACTER COUNTS! to Nigeria’s schools.

If you grunted a cynical “good luck” and thought about scam e-mails, street vendors selling counterfeit designer purses and sun glasses and the country’s reputation as one of the most corrupt in the world, you’ve proved the prevalence and perniciousness of stereotypes and the tendency of those of us who think we are immune from this form of prejudice to believe them.

A Nigerian poet and novelist, Chimamanda Adichie*points out that the problem with stereotypes is not that they are not true but that they are incomplete. And this is definitely the case with Nigeria. Of course, the stereotype is grounded in evidence. Despite recent efforts to reduce corruption, it’s still endemic and the e-mails keep coming and the vendors keep selling. This view of the dark side of this huge and diverse country of 140 million people is only part of the truth.

Few outsiders know that there are millions of articulate, well-educated, deeply decent people who are appalled by their country’s reputation and the portions of it that reflect reality.

But the people who invited me here are not only concerned with the criminal elements of their society; they are worried about the next generation. They are profoundly aware of the erosion of common values like honor and integrity and they believe CHARACTER COUNTS! can help schools do a better job of building character and instilling core ethical values. They believe this effort is a good in itself and that it is the best hope to reshape the culture of  their country so it can achieve its moral and economic potential.

Nigeria is only in its tenth year of democracy after a repressive military dictatorship and they have made major progress in the fight against ingrained habits of kickbacks, bribes, appreciation payments and out and out embezzlement.

While there is much more to do, how can one not be hopeful after seeing the impossible happen in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya?

But it’s not just hope that fuels this effort; it is a matter of duty rooted in pride in their country and love of their children.

Everyone I’ve met is aware of the challenges and difficulties in trying to strengthen the moral fiber of a culture that has been adrift. They are certain, however, that doing nothing is unacceptable and that whatever they do will make things better.

Better is not necessarily good but the moral quality actions pursued for a noble cause is not determined by when or even whether they achieve every goal; the effort itself is a moral action.

The way of honor is to do all the good you can, when you can with what you have. And if it makes things better they are well on their way to good.

*Ms. Adichie delivered an absolutely wonderful talk at a TED conference. It’s well worth your time. www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg)

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Comments 6

  1. I have been a constant listener to your daily broadcast on KNX Radio Station. I have thought of how to get you into the Nigerian society. Somehow, someone beat me to it. It means I was not the only one thinking about it. Your presence in Nigeria would be one of the best things that has happened lately in moral regeneration in young people in the country.

    They would have nothing to lose. Thank you for venturing!

    Austen

    1. Post
      Author

      Austen, thanks for your encouragement. Please encourage folks you know in Nigeria to connect with us online in all or one of the following ways: become a fan of my official public Face Book page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Michael-Josephson/43153740519 and the official CHARACTER COUNTS! FB page at https://www.facebook.com/CharacterCounts and subscribe to and regularly visit the What Will Matter website and receive our weekly newsletter.(www.whatwillmatter.com)

  2. Thanks for coming to Nigeria. I read your articles online and they inspire something in me. I believe your coming to Nigeria would be worth the while. And you will see truly that there is more to Nigeria than all the scams and all the fake vendors all around.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Becky, my trip to Nigeria was very rewarding but also quite daunting. It is such a big country. I hope we can expand the program there. Any help you can give us by asking your friends to follow us on this blog or our Facebook pages will help. Thanks

  3. Your help is also desperately needed in South Africa! When I first heard of your organization and work earlier this year, my immediate reaction was that your programmes were desperately needed in our Government, Schools and Cities. I sincerely hope that you will at some stage be able to visit South Africa and assist us with the moral regeneration of this beautiful country!

    1. Post
      Author

      Melanie, Thank you so much for your interest. We are spread pretty thin. We were able to go to Nigeria because several folks from there came to our training in Los Angeles and expressed a desire to champion the cause in Nigeria. We’ve had a few visitors from South Africa and there are a few schools using CC! but we need a strong partner to bring our program to another country. Do you know anyone who might fit that description?

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