52 people died yesterday in Tikrit, Iraq. 130 more lie in the hospital desperately clinging to life. The entire community is flooding to the hospital to donate blood.
“This is corruption,” one of my Iraqi friends tells me. He didn’t lose any family members in the attack, this time, but he looks beaten into sadness.
His comment leaves me confused.
“Corruption? What do you mean?”
“The tribal sheikhs know who these people are. So do the big people in government. Yet they do nothing to stop it because they have been paid. This is corruption.”
He plain assessment makes it clear. When government officials and community leaders refuse to take action to protect their people, because they have been paid or are sympathetic to the political murder of their countrymen – the community decays into chaos. That is corruption.
On this particular occasion there’s no shortage of conspiracy theories.
I have heard everything from the idea that the Government of Iraq paid the terrorists to make the attack to weaken the Sunni leadership in the country to the idea that the Sheikhs arranged the attacks themselves to cast doubt upon the Government of Iraq.
I find all of these ideas troubling. Firstly, because so many people seem to think they are true – regardless of any actual evidence.
The mere existence of these ideas among large groups weakens the society. The decay of society is corruption.
A common government definition of corruption “abuse of entrusted authority for private gain” simply doesn’t apply.
Fighting such ideas should be one of the key goals of any government that is trying to build and strengthen its society.