Recently, there have been intensified outcries and waged “War against Indiscipline” in the country with some media houses highly dedicated to the course. Much as this is commendable, it draws one’s mind to the view held by Miguel de Cervantes that “it is one thing to praise discipline and another to submit to it”.
Unsurprisingly, reports stemming from the media on this set agenda by a few concerned citizens tend to implicate law enforcers as the most culprits. Our law enforcers and policy makers undeniably have become confident law breakers.
Their level of unruliness is disgusting to be euphemistic enough. It ranges from careless driving and parking on the roads, to the abuse of the use of sirens; ignoring constructed foot bridges over highways to join the masses cross the roads carelessly at undesignated points; breaking and scaling over the defensive barb wires on the pavements of the roads and the occupation and narrowing of our roads by street hawkers in the glare of city guards whose presence and duties have been reduced to extortion’s from offenders in making their “daily sales”.
We are experiencing one of the worst seasons of flooding this year. Building along waterways is unquestionably one of the major causes of flooding in Accra and the other capital towns and cities. Whereas the sale of lands would not seize anytime soon, the respective Town and Country Planning Departments of the various Metropolitan/Municipal/District Assemblies (MMDAs) either deliberately or otherwise, have lost their role in checking and ensuring emerging communities and structures meet the standards and requirements prior to their construction or development. Lives and properties are being lost in the events of flooding. Yet, we seem not to place value on the cost we count when these destruction’s occur.
The men who are assigned to check and ensure permits are duly granted and are being paid from our taxes, sit in their offices and allow a few selfish individuals to top up their salaries with a few Cedi notes.
This favour is quickly returned by granting undeserved building permits without going to the field to conduct the needful assessment. And we all know how slow our justice system is in seeking to reverse a situation where persons who have “lawfully” built on waterways ought to be cleared. However a certain politician is assumed the only corrupt man amongst the living.
The journalists championing this course against indiscipline with the awareness creation are themselves no angels. Some of them sometimes forget their faces have become so familiar that even in the dark, we could ascertain their identities and wrongful acts. We have set several laws which we assume should order our activities for the existence of a sane society.
And these same laws we have failed to submit to, calling for more laws to be enacted. We are gradually building a crazy world. It is either you compromise and conform to the standards of the trending and emerging lawlessness or you become an enemy to the spectators in this country, who have eschewed their roles as citizens. You may be a victim of an unfortunate situation, often of mockery.
But just imagine how much time, energy, money and other resources both human and capital, that we could have saved if we each pledged a bit of self-discipline to the larger course of the nation. Just imagine!
Well, if you are wondering why my rant this morning, let me first admit I am no angel either despite being a strong advocate of discipline across all spheres. My wanton disregard for one just one-road regulation nearly caused me, when I came into close contact with death. Thankfully, I survived the scare. It taught me worth much; how a sense of discipline is priceless.
THE CRASH HELMET SAVED THE DAY
It is often said in this part of our world, “if a man knew the weight of trouble to descend the skies, he would not hesitate to wear a metallic crash helmet”. This piece of wise saying though may not be directly interpreted as so, made ordinary sense to me until the very moment death scared me in a motor accident I suffered recently.
Severally, the young man in me had caused my “disciplined” self to shy away from using the helmet. I fancied the good looks my combed hair would give me, to the detriment of my safety and wellbeing that the helmet assured.
It was quite irritating always keeping a small comb in a side pocket or a bag for every journey/ trip I made on the motorbike. This was so I could comb the hair again upon reaching my destination. I did this for years. A young man at my age should look neat and smart I often thought.
In a bid to protect my eyes against the flying tiny particles which swayed from the streets as a result of the moving vehicles, I preferred the shades (spectacles). I felt good in them. And I had some flattering compliments when in them.
For whatever reasons, the fact that I was yet to witness the threat of an accident cemented my comfort in maintaining my stance; desiring the shades to the wearing of a crash helmet. It did not rule out the fact that I was and still am one of those staunch crusaders against indiscipline in the country, particularly on our roads. I could ply my lane, heed to all road signs, including staying true to the red traffic light for as long as it remains so.
There were times bikers who met me in traffic, bypassed me and assumed my penchant for following the traffic light regulation to the latter was unusual. Perhaps to them, that is a “zombie” on a motorbike. Yet the simple rule of riding with a helmet over my head was the least of my worries.
It took the persistent conviction of a few thoughtful and concerned friends and relatives to reason and buy into the need for one.
One a faithful Friday two months ago, I had closed from work and together with a colleague, checked up on a visiting friend in town. I felt it was night, so why not drop the helmet? On a second thought I said to myself, it rains quite often in my locality so let me keep the helmet on.
Besides it could give my head and eyes a better cover, enhancing my vision in the event of a downpour. I have never really been scared of riding in the rains. So I put on the helmet. Unfortunately my colleague who joined me did not have one on.
Not long after our interaction with my visitor in town, we headed home with the hope of meeting the next day to hang out. Plans were advanced and we could not wait for the day to break.
Besides it was going to be a holiday and I may only have a half day to work at the office. While on the journey, another rider (Okada) coming from the opposite end who happened to have been signaled by a potential client in need of his service, tried a fast U-turn into our lane. I saw his attempt.
I was highly convinced from my little experience that the effort was a daring one and almost impossible. He was lost his composure.
Narrowing in from my lane, I applied my brakes having sensed danger. My colleague behind me suddenly became conscious of the situation.
He tried taking advantage of my slow pacing to get off the bike. The other biker (okada) lost hold of his bike. It dragged in flashes of light (fire) from its contact with the tarred street right in my direction and bumped into mine. We lost balance too. I tried hard to hold on firm to the bike, perhaps “to fall like a hero”.
I had to, but not for the glory. I was mindful of my colleague behind me who had no helmet on at that material moment. Like the sacrificial lamb, I offered my posture for a fall to reduce the impact our bodies could have in contact with the ground.
I ended up hitting hard on the street and being dragged a distance by the bike, while I still held on to the hand brake. It was as a though a movie production. But it was real. It happened.
Why did I not let go the bike? I thought of others who stood by the street and could have equally been hit by my bike in a similar fashion as the okada guy’s did mine. Many more casualties we could have had.
Luckily, my colleague also managed his fall in his escape and sustained a few bruises on his right knee and arm. I had my fair share of the injuries, all over my body. But the most significant observation was my helmet.
In that little event and with what I thought I had managed well to the best of my ability, my helmet was crashed open. It was divided into two! A wound right beneath my left eye prompted me on how serious an injury I could have sustained but for the helmet.
Obviously the helmet is harder and a better shock absorber than the human head. If it suffered that type of a crack, then one could imagine the head injury I would have sustained. Perhaps I may be alive but unconscious, perhaps I may be dead.
Severally, I have pondered over what prompted me to keep the helmet on that day. My confidence in saving my friend and other casualties stemmed from the helmet I had on. The situation would have been different if it were not so.
I would not have made such a self-assured sacrifice. And ever since recovering and returning to my bike, I have had to deal with another favorite quote of Jim Rohn that, “we must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment”.
To my discomfort, the helmet has become a valuable friend I look out for first when I think riding. I need no friends and relatives to urge me to do the right thing, to respect the very regulation I breached with impunity. I learnt my greatest lesson in discipline so far, after that experience.
I believe we all have a role to play in ensuring discipline thrives in all our endeavors individually and collectively as a country. We cannot stand for mediocrity and at the same time strive for excellence. We cannot promote vices and acclaim to be virtuous. We cannot support indiscipline and at the same time advocate discipline. We ought to stand for what is worth emulating so that it moves us to what do what is worthwhile.
And please do not fail to cite me as a source, anytime you find my last quote useful and applicable. To me, “a sense of discipline is always priceless”.