Our national culture has become highly materialistic and ostentatiously so. Not only do we want to own more and live a life of indulgent luxury, we want to do so in a conspicuous and show-offish way – we want the world to know that we are leading the good life!
And because wealth and ‘good living’ has become our supreme deity – immaterial of tribal or political inclinations – anything that is done in the pursuit of wealth has been legitimised. So long as one is rich, and ostentatiously so, all their sins are forgiven and forgotten. In fact, any sins that they may have committed in pursuit of that wealth are obliterated from record and memory – and they are hailed as saints and exemplars for the rest of us.
This attitude has of course filtered down to the younger generations who are only now beginning to accumulate earthly possessions – they too dream of similar wealth by any means necessary, but most preferably where those means do not involve long and arduous struggle, sacrifice, planning, patience and inconvenient principles that serve as hindrances!
Poverty has all but been criminalised, made unbearably painful. The religious allege it is a sign of God’s disfavour, and the prosperous take it as an indication of laziness or lack of entrepreneurial intelligence, or even poor genes! Either way, the poor are made to feel and understand that they must do everything possible, legal and illegal, humane and inhuman, to get out of poverty – and failing to do so condemns them to bottom-tier citizenship of the nation and ‘sewerage membership’ of society.
It is this culture that may lead those that are not ethically fortified to engage in acts that are truly abhorrent, even abominable; acts that demean them; acts that may even make them hate themselves and further lower their self-esteem. Acts like prostitution and the making of pornography. And of course because we are a society that is already built on materialistic falsehood, when these acts do happen we are quick to condemn and vilify, and sensationalise and misinform and disinform – as if in some way this deluge of hypocritical outrage redeems our own sordidness!
Personally, I refuse to condemn the poor and the desperate that are forced to make these appalling choices without also condemning the society that has made it nigh impossible for them to lead a dignified and upright life concomitant with the values that the selfsame society hypocritically defines. We must not blame the victims for landing in the very situation that the victimiser destined for them.