“The moral derailment in leadership needs to stop”

Encounter: David D. White, Counsellor (Psychological) & Business Psychologist

* ‘Media feed us with our daily dosage of dopamine. The more we hear of scandals, the more is our appetite for dopamine, and we enter the cycle of gentle addiction’

* ‘The nation has been kept in darkness of its own history and this opens the gates wide for division, distortion and primitive reactions’

Our guest, this week, David E. D. White with his broad background and experience analyses the articulations between moral values and leadership and laments the lack of integrity, equity and dignity at a time when forces of change are disrupting our country. Those are magnified by social media, where truth and lies can be blurred and scandals slowly become a daily or weekly addiction, replacing deeper thoughts and reflections on how to improve the quality of human life in Paradise Island and avoid our despairing youth seeking an escape to other shores.

David White is a Pastor, Counsellor, Business Psychologist, Business Coach, and Trainer. As Learning and Development Strategist he combines astute strategic business skills with 25+ years track record in People Development. He holds advanced qualifications in Theology, Counselling and Business Psychology. 

Mauritius Times: I understand you have been back home this week after spending a few days in Johannesburg. What was the feeling down there, and how does it compare with what obtains here?

David White: The dominant feeling there seems to be irritation on account of the prevailing load shedding which I heard may last till March 2025.

The demand for electricity there nears available supply levels, so it is necessary to interrupt temporarily the delivery of electricity to maintain the integrity of the electric grid and to prevent catastrophic grid failures and extended outages for customers.

On a deeper level, people there and here are aspiring for integrity, equity and dignity at all levels. These are the DNA of positive peace.

* Those who have been away for quite some time usually say they miss their homes and all those things that are familiar to them on a personal level, but rarely the political palavers that make the news and are debated on social media or even the political actors. Did you experience that same feeling?

I have always stated that there should be a clear demarcation between religion and politics. This does not make me insensitive to what is happening in politics and other spheres of life.

Like many of us, I’m concerned by the political and societal dynamics happening in Mauritius. We are living critical moments in world History. The forces driving Change are disrupting our world and our country. Behind some of these forces, unfortunately, there appear to be particles of dark intentions.

One of the forces driving Change is social media. Abusers of all kind, use social media to blur the frontier between the truth and a lie. In many instances, truths are presented as lies and lies are presented as truths. We generate confusion at many levels as we lack media literacy.

* In fact, we are literally bombarded almost every night with the TV news bulletins about politicians and their mis-deeds, so it’s always interesting to get a different perspective from a pastor, counsellor, business psychologist, business coach and trainer of how Mauritius is doing. What are your thoughts on what’s happening in the country?

Until proven faulty and guilty by a court of justice, we cannot infer nor impute motives to anyone. However, there is a sheer lack of transparency, answerability and accountability at many levels in Mauritius.

If we have power, we use the mechanisms of intimidation and fabricated lies as truths to get out of any blunder we commit. If we don’t have power, we are either submissive and compliant to what we hear or we live in fear, narcotizing ourselves with social media intoxication or gambling in various ways or both.

Media feed us with our daily dosage of dopamine. The more we hear of scandals, the more is our appetite for dopamine, and we enter the cycle of gentle addiction. We look for our daily media-bread prior to starting the day…

* What about the people who come to you as a pastor and counsellor? What do you make out of their fears and apprehensions, or do they seem to be generally optimistic about the country’s future and theirs here?

My numerous roles lead me to be an agent of Hope. There is currently a general feeling of ‘doom and gloom’ in Mauritius. Our leaders are entrenched in short-term thinking, short-term gains, and in mutual destruction.

In spite of several opportunities coming our way, are Mauritians dreaming of a better Future? We badly need the much-needed impulse and self-agency to drive our nation in the Future. While immigration is inexorable, our greatest asset in Mauritius is People. What is the Hope of the nation?

Most people I encounter wish that their children do not come back to Mauritius after their studies overseas. ‘Ki pu vinn faire ici avec tou sa malpropre ki enan?’

This is an indicator that people are no more dreaming of a brighter Future for our country. We badly need to restore hope and dream dreams of a better Mauritius.

* Many of the younger generation seem not to be quite excited about their individual long-term prospects here and are contemplating to leave for other shores. Could they be right?

As I stated earlier, immigration is ineluctable and inescapable. Our youth may not necessarily be looking for money when they envisage leaving Mauritius. They want a country where equity, integrity and fairness are practised, felt and seen.

For decades numerous leaders have made a mockery of these elements. In spite of the good appreciations and ranking on multiple indexes of governance, etc., deep down we know that we practise lip service when it comes to equity, integrity and fairness.

* There are times when one gets the feeling that the old demons of the past are coming back to haunt us: the offensive (modified) sega song of a couple of RCC students and the aggressive reaction that followed, and the latest incident (downplayed by the media) relating to opposition to a cremation by a group of inhabitants in Rodrigues. It’s difficult to imagine that these things could be happening in 2023, isn’t it?

There is a general breakdown of respect in our country and moral leadership is crumbling. Had these students been taught the History of our country, they would not have done what they did.

Each community has produced emancipators not only for their respective community but for the country. Each community has produced emancipators of the calibre of the Bissoondoyal brothers, and we should be grateful for their sacrifice.

The nation has been kept in darkness of its own history and this opens the gates wide for division, distortion and primitive reactions. When are we going to see ourselves with a common core?

*Those who care passionately about the country’s progress and the well-being of its population, the survival of our democratic institutions, etc., would certainly not be comfortable with the bullying in our schools and in Parliament, with the alleged mafia infiltration of our institutions and the media reports about the proliferation of drug trafficking along the western coast and, it would seem, all over the place… What’s your take on that?

There’s a saying that says: ‘The fish rots from the head’. It is time for a spurt, a startle in leadership in all spheres and at all levels. We need nation-builders everywhere and we need to reduce the nation-scavengers to silence.

We have lost the spiritual dimension of leadership. Without this dimension, there cannot be integrity, equity and fairness which is most yearned for by everyone.

* The last time we spoke was during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, and many people were then experiencing distress, uncertainty and fear, but we have gradually come out of it. But we do not seem to have learnt the lessons about the fragility of life and the futility of worshipping false gods. What do you think?

You are absolutely right. We worship money, liars and their lies, inappropriate powers, and are contaminating everyday our operational beliefs.

An example of what I’m saying is: ‘Bizin coquin pu réussi’. Our nation seems borne by cupidity.

* We have travelled a long road with both achievements and disillusionment, but today things on different fronts seem to have hit bottom. How do we come out of that?

The nation seems to be rocking between aversion and falling sleep. We have substituted spirituality for greed of all kinds. Our leaders, whoever they are and, in all fields, need to reconnect with a deep sense of ethics.

Nations like Singapore and Scandinavian countries are far-sighted, score high on practically all indexes of business and the quality of human life because they do not despise ethics and morality.

It is within our reach and it is achievable. Our Hope must be in that direction as our country is truly a paradise. The moral derailment in leadership needs to stop.


Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 21 April 2023

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