We have heard the phrase: Live an exemplary life. The Bosses, Supervisors, Politicians, and “champions” of social rights hammer this phrase in high pitch; as if the sterner they sound, the more likely people will scramble to living exemplary lives. But let’s ask these “champions” and so call advocates of “exemplary lives,” what is an exemplary life? Are these so-called champions living exemplary lives?
Or are they like those who profess to be morally upright, but at night they are seen in dark corners and alleys with young boys and teenage girls? Or should we ‘do as they say and don’t do what they do? Well, well, well; that will be quite difficult, because “Exemplary Life” itself means living a life that is an excellent model for others to follow. In short, you must show, demonstrate, display, exhibit exemplary life, and not tell it.
Take for example Ms. Rose claims that her husband is “cheating.” Rose’s husband insists that he is being accused falsely. Rose maintains that her husband is not living above suspicion – he comes home midnight, claiming he had been at the office. But the office doesn’t have electricity after 6pm. Is Rose’s husband living above suspicion or is he living an exemplary life? Is he living an life that is worth emulating by his children and other household members? What can your spouse, your colleague; your boss, your pastor; your teacher; and your Representative do to live above suspicion, but model an exemplary life? And if that person is not living above suspicion, are they living an exemplary life? Ask your representative whether the life they are living is worth emulating. Don’t allow them to tell you what is worth following, but insist that they show in their ways of living what they want you to emulate.
Why should I live above suspicion; why should I live an exemplary life– the places I go, the people I associate with and the way I comport myself? Should the governors, the preachers, teachers, wives, husbands and champions of social rights live above suspicion? The ancient Roman Julius Caesar is supposed to have said “Caesar’s wife must live above suspicion” when asked why he divorced his wife. Caesar said his wife was suspected of some wrongdoing, so he could not associate with her anymore. Was Caesar wrong? Was he right?
In our society- post war life, fraudulency appears to be a more acceptable way of life- both in the professional and private sector. It seems professionalism is being eschewed, and ethics recoiled, and truthfulness spurned by some of the same people who professed to hail these great values in our national reconstruction and sustainable development program. Should we become corrupted or weakened by those who balk at professionalism and productivity behind closed doors, while publicly they pretend to be advocates of these great qualities?
It is obvious that living a life that creates suspicion and living an exemplary life two opposite sides of the coin. However, to achieve one, one must completely move away from the other. To live an exemplary life, one must live above suspicion and reproach. That is why Former Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuor asked members of the Ghanaian Electoral Commission to remain above public suspicion. Kufuor’s comments came in the wake of bribery allegations and court cases that bedeviled the Electoral Commission.
What are the traits and characteristics that make someone exemplary? What separates the exemplary few from the exemplary majority? Are you living an exemplary life? We all know that to lead effectively, public figures and all associated with them must be of flawlessly impeccable conduct; completely beyond reproach; without even the implication of impropriety. They must live exemplary lives by first honoring others’ opinions. An exemplary life treats others with value. But what’s about when they treat others unfairly, or when they intentionally stifle the progress of others? Additionally, an exemplary life is the same in public as it is in private. Who are we when we are behind closed doors? Do we have the same integrity in public as when no one is watching? An exemplary life also encourages others to achieve their full potential, and promotes creativity. It’s not threatened by another’s success. Instead, it celebrates the achievements of others even if the achievements surpass theirs.
As we strive to live exemplary lives, let us constantly examine ourselves by asking: “What am I doing?” If this were made public, would I be ashamed? If others knew this, would it bring reproach on my reputation?” How would I feel if my children or my neighbors saw me? What we say, what we do, how we live, how we treat public positions, how we talk to people, how we handle our finances, staff, workers, how we spend our time, how we dress… everything must be constantly examined to make sure that we are above reproach, and that we are living exemplary lives.
Every society has its heroes– cultural icons, or role models–whose lives are taken to be “exemplary.” Such heroes served not just to inspire others, but to teach them: they are much-admired not just for their achievements, but for the “exemplary” qualities they preached and demonstrated. Take for example Florence Nightingale, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Liberia’s own Arch-Bishop Michael K. Francis – they lived exemplary lives. You can do the same!
Precisely With Musue Haddad