My Hands Are Clean

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"Bribe Detector Test" - Asking the Youth the Tough Questions

I had the privilege of joining the team from Corruption Watch at the VIP Youth Festival in Johannesburg for a bit of fun, and a large dose of realization. #AreYourHandsClean? #Really? #AreYouAbsolutelySureOfThat?

Enter the polygraph, and let’s find out.

The My Hands Are Clean campaign was a theme launched by Corruption Watch for 2014/2015 as a call to young people to commit to taking responsibility for their own actions and to stop the scourge of corruption in our society.
So during the VIP Youth Festival young men and women were given the opportunity by the team from Corruption Watch to wash their hands in celebration for an honest future in a ceremony that had them laughing; and one that really got them thinking.

One by one they entered the polygraph ‘office’ for a bit of questioning and a mock polygraph examination akin to taking a long hard look in an outspoken and unapologetic mirror. The examination of course nothing really more than a bit of fun, excitement and some smoke and mirrors, a bit of fun however that left people with some serious questions.

The questions started simple: “Did you ever cheat on a test or examination at school?”, “Did you ever buy a cold-drink for a traffic officer?”, “Have you ever given an officer of the law something to skip that fine?”, “Ever drove over the speed limit?”, “Did you ever drive after having that drink or two?” “Did you pay the driving school that extra few rands for that guarantee?”, “Did you ever try that joint at a party?”, “Did you ever lie to an officer of the law not to get caught?’”, “Did you ever lie to an officer of the law to protect a friend doing wrong?” . . . “Were you ever involved in any illegal or criminal activities?” Did you answer yes to any of these questions? Are you one of ‘Them’?

Just of of curiosity, how many of those questions did you answer yes to?

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It’s easy to think of yourself as a good person until someone starts listing your wrongdoings, one by one filling up that page in front you. As innocent, tiny little colourful dots can create a picture of staggering horror or breath-taking magnificence; so too do we as individuals create the society in which we live. Oh but the hard truths didn’t stop there as person after person admitted to knowing some of ‘Them’, driving with some of ‘Them’, living with some of ‘Them’, loving some of ‘Them’ and even lied to protect some of ‘Them’. Think of this question: “Did you ever see anyone doing any of the above questions and if so, why didn’t you stop them?”

The real truth that the polygraph pointed out during the festival is that none of our hands were as clean as we thought and it left us we a cold realisation that we ourselves are responsible for some of those dreaded criminal statistics, either by direct action, or simply by ignoring the preventable.

“I didn’t think it was that bad”, “Everyone was doing it”, “I thought they seemed okay to drive”, “I felt intimidated”, “It wasn’t my car and I needed to get home”, “It’s not like I hurt someone directly.”
It’s always a case of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’, with ‘Us’ being the honest law abiding citizens, and ‘Them’ being the dishonest and corrupt criminals that should be locked up. How comfortable it is to forget that ‘We’ are actually a mushy mix of both, and the real question we should ask, is how much of ‘Me’ is actually a part of ‘Them’.

What a great initiative from the men and women at Corruption watch and I have to say that I was glad to be able to play a role in a campaign that has some real significance for each and every person of this country.