There has been a canker that has been growing gradually and eating at our moral fibre as a coun­try and it has a name. It is called intolerance and if care is not taken, it will destroy this nation in the near fu­ture.

All across the city of Accra, and I tend to believe across the country, every­body seems to be in a rush to go somewhere, such that the usual Ghanaian attitude of demonstrating care for another person is gradually being lost.

When two people are approaching each other in a narrow alley, the usual or normal attitude is for the younger person to wait for the older person to pass be­fore the younger person then moves.

The situation is changing and younger people are not observing this accepted nor­mal practice in the Ghanaian society. Just go through the Okaishie area and use the narrow alleys connecting the various buildings housing the shops in the area and you would easily confirm this behaviour.

In traffic, the situation is even worse. Having given an indication that you want to turn either right or left onto the next lane due to a broken down vehicle blocking your way, especially on three lane roads, the driver of the vehicle coming from behind will not slow down for you to join his or her lane.

The few seconds that one driver can give to another so one can pass and the other would also move, usually results in collisions. Most of the collisions on the high­ways are as a result of such incidents.

On the highways, this dis­play of intolerance graduates into madness, where some drivers decide to overtake more than one vehicle on a hill, when they cannot see ahead of them. If an oncom­ing vehicle happens to be speeding from the opposite direction, the obvious result will be a direct collision with its attendant loss of innocent lives.

Any observer of the de­bates on radio and TV would have noticed this phenom­enon of intolerance running through every facet of our society. Panelist refuse to observe the ethics of dis­course and interrupt other contributors in a manner that is so frustrating.

Instead of noting points of disagreement and offering a rebuttal when it is their turn to speak, they just keep on butting in to disrupt the train of thought of the one speak­ing. I was told of an incident at a studio of a radio station where a panelist was so incensed with the constant interjections by a co-panelist so much that he slapped him.

It is an unacceptable behaviour but if you put yourself in his shoes, you would not judge him harshly. On a number of occasions, I felt compelled, if it were possible to have entered the studios through the TV set to repeat what the gentleman did to his co-panelist.

In our social circles, this intolerance translates into unhealthy competition that has the potential of ruining people’s lives. The get-rich-quick mentality that is permeating our society must be urgently and seriously addressed.

This brings to mind the sad story, a few years ago of an incident at Kasoa, a suburb of Accra where two teenagers murdered their 10-year-old friend with the intention of using parts of his body for rituals to get money.

Everybody is in a rush to get ahead of his neighbour, friend, brother or sister re­gardless of the method used as if the world is coming to an end in the next couple of months. I do not know whether it is due to the difficult economic conditions prevailing in the country, everybody seems to be in a bad mood.

Any little disagreement turns into a quarrel of some sort. Parents snap at their children at the least provo­cation.

The religious leaders, opinion leaders, civil society etc. have a duty to preach tolerance to help address this behavioural menace afflicting our nation.

May God help us!

By Laud Kissi-Mensah

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