Digital dep #4: Two revelations on korruptshun

I tossed up as to whether to write this post, mostly because I wanted to watch what I say on this public forum. So I’m going to talk more generally about the topic. The two revelations that I share in no way should be taken as my support of korruptshun, nor do they diminish the horror that korruptshun creates. They are more me understanding more fully this phenomenon. As an aside, I’ve decided not to write the full word, not because I’m worried, but better safer than sorry. I’m sure a sophisticated search could find this post (not that there is anything really controversial in what I’m saying here). BTW if you’re still confused by my misspelled topic for today, try saying it aloud, it’s spelt phonetically.

My first revelation is that I think there is a grey area in relation to korruptshun than I had previously thought. Say I have to get some documents through an agency. To speed it along I give more than the expected amount. In this sense those with money are treated ‘better’ than those ‘without’. Before, if I had come across this scenario I would have called this an example of korruptshun. And I still might. My thoughts are still being worked out on this topic. But two things that I now know that make it more complicated than the simple example I just gave. The first complicating factor is in relation to a similar practice in Australia. If I want a package to be delivered faster, I pay more than the usual amount. It’s called the ‘express’ rate. And so again, those with money are treated ‘better’ than those without. Now this we all accept and just call fast tracking. And the fact that it is standardised and transparent does eliminate some of the greyness surrounding this topic. The second complicating factor is that in Australia so many of our processes occur outside of relationship. Think of how many things we can do without interacting with people. I can order a product, have it delivered and not have any contact with any person in that transaction. While this is a fringe example, it’s still possible. Contrast that impersonal transaction with the relational nature of Cambodian life. Nearly everything is done in the context of relationships. And we all know that relationships are messy. They are not clinical like a formal procedure. And this helps me to see some more of the grey area in relation to korruptshun. Further, understanding the relational nature of life in Cambodia makes more sense of the bargaining that we see happen and that I fail miserably at.

My second revelation is much briefer. When we think about korruptshun and poverty, we often see that the two go together. I think my first reaction is to say that korruptshun creates poverty. And I think there is truth to that. And yet I think the converse is also true as well, and I don’t often think of it in this way. That is, korruptshun arises in conditions of poverty. Proverbs 30 has a saying-slash-prayer where sage asks for neither opulence or poverty and the reason for not wanting poverty is that as a result he will steal. Again, this doesn’t remove the responsibility we have in each of our circumstances (including poverty). But it does highlight a valuable point: poverty creates korruptshun, just as korruptshun creates poverty.

My thoughts are still evolving on this topic. Would love to hear what you think, both on where you think I’ve missed it or on thoughts that came to you from reading this.

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