Where to look when everyone in the family walks with a stoop

Author, Gawaya Tegulle. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • ‘‘In Israel there was no budget for conferences and seminars about how to be good” 

It was very easy to measure the spiritual temperature of Israel in Bible times – you simply took a look at their status quo: powerful and prosperous when the Israelites obeyed the Lord. And when they disobeyed, they’d lose their wars, the state and economy would collapse and they’d be carried off into captivity, or suffer slavery in their own land, under an army of occupation. Sound familiar?

The Israelites were sometimes pro-God; at other times, worshipping pagan gods. So the entire Old Testament of the Bible is a tale of ups and downs of the Israelites; successful because of obedience and complete wrecks when disobedience set in. 
Fortunately, there is a very simple pattern that one can follow in terms of causation: the Israelites simply copied the lifestyle of their king of the day. If the king was righteous, all the people would be righteous.

If the king was evil, then all Israel committed evil. All they had to do was look at what the king was doing, and they’d readily follow suit. If the king went up to Shiloh or Jerusalem or Samaria to offer sacrifices to the Most High God, then all people would happily join him in the worship, and they’d do exactly as their king did. But then again, if another king came in and departed from his father’s philosophy and chose to worship the pagan gods, the people didn’t bother asking why – those very same people would happily follow him and worship whatever there was. 

So you have Hezekiah a very Godly king who revolutionised worship and led Judah back to God; then he was succeeded by his son Manasseh, who sinned more than any other king before him, doing even worse than the pagans whom God drove out of the land for Israel to take over. The same people who had worshipped God with Hezekiah, happily worshipped idols when Hezekiah’s son took charge. 

Social conscience was, therefore, directed and determined by the spiritual standpoint of the political leadership. In fact from 1 Kings to 2 Chronicles, the documentation is very clear: when a king is introduced, his spiritual leaning is also proclaimed – whether he followed God like David, or did evil in the sight of the Lord. And even if you stopped reading at that point, you’d quite easily work out every detail of the story of his regime…and how it all ended.

There was no need to take Israelites to school to teach them about how to commit sin. Neither was there need to teach them about how to be good people. So in Israel there was no budget for conferences and seminars about how to be good, God-fearing citizens. No need to spend public funds teaching people about things they could learn by simply looking at the leaders, or even hearing about what the leaders were doing.

It was quite fascinating to read a few days ago that State House would, at the end of this past week, host yet another National Youth Convention, concerned with “Our future, our values: navigating through the changing moral culture” - or something to that effect. Clearly, there is a concern in State House about the state of morality of the country and that the young people need to be redeemed. The leadership is so concerned about this that every year, the government is spending billions of shillings in some very interesting ventures. One of them is to “teach patriotism” to the people. The other is to “fight corruption”. Then there is a billion-rich project on “mindset change”. The Ugandan leadership is innovative when it comes to designing such projects. 

Absolute waste of time and money. Comedy and irony!
Monkey see, monkey do! Righteous leaders, righteous people! Corrupt leaders, corrupt people. When leaders throw virtue and values out the window, the people do the same. When leaders cheat, steal and bribe to win elections or when they buy off opponents, the people copy and paste…and save changes! When the leaders torture opponents, people do similarly – to rivals, neighbours, or even wives and children. 
Because, like our forefathers oft said, when the head of the household has a hunchback, all members of the family will walk with a stoop.

Mr Tegulle is an advocate of the High Court of Uganda