The Liberating Power of Transparency

The Liberating Power of Transparency

Tope Popoola

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence.– Genesis 2:25(AMP)Once upon a time, a little boy and his sister went to spend their holiday with their grandparents. One day, the boy decided to take a walk through the large expanse of woodland on the farm. He was given a slingshot to play with while out in the woods. He practised several times; but he never hit the target. Discouraged by the futility of his many attempts, he headed back for dinner. On the way, he saw Grandma’s pet duck.

Without really expecting to hit it, he let the slingshot fly. Unfortunately, the shot hit the duck square in the head and killed it instantly. He was shocked and grieved! In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile. What he did not know was that his sister, Sally, was watching it all but she said nothing.

After lunch the next day, Grandma said, ‘Sally, come and let’s wash the dishes’ But Sally said, ‘Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.’ Then she moved close to him and whispered to his ears, “Remember the duck?’ So Johnny did the dishes. Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing. Grandma said, ‘Johnny can go with you but I need Sally to help with supper.’ Sally just smiled and said, ‘Well there is no reason why I cannot go Grandma because Johnny told me he wanted to help with supper’ Again she leaned close to Johnny and whispered, ‘Remember the duck?’ So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help.

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s; he finally couldn’t stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck. Grandma bent down, gave him a hug and said, ‘Sweetheart, I know. I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing, but because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.’

Lesson? Those who don’t want skeletons should not bother to even have cupboards! Transparency is a virtue that is largely missing in every facet of our national life. I have heard of several cases of one spouse embarking on a project without the knowledge of the other. Husbands keep secrets that wives dare not know about. Ditto wives. Parents hide things from their children and of course children religiously do all they can to keep many chapters of their lives hidden from possible scrutiny by their parents. I have come across several cases of people who have children out of wedlock without the knowledge of their spouse. Imagine a situation where a woman’s son was staying with her mother and grew up to call the real mother ‘Auntie’. He was a teenager before the Mum’s husband found out. As you read this, ask yourself, ‘What about me; does my spouse not yet know?’ It is instructive to note however that whatever areas of our lives lack transparency become veritable tools for blackmail. Blackmailers thrive on secrets.

More often than not, many of our attempts at cover-up are nothing but fig-leaf therapy. Recall Adam and Eve in Eden after the Fall? We keep secrets because we do not want to take responsibility for possible consequences when the truth is known.

Life becomes easier for both the follower and the leader where there is transparency. Why for instance has our National Assembly been foot-dragging on the Freedom of Information Bill? Afterall, truth requires no defence. Transparency fears no discovery and experiences no surprises. What you see is what you get. To my mind, it is because there is so much rot in the system that the rest of us must not know about! As a Yoruba proverb indicates, whatever we discuss and request that no one else must hear about it is nothing but a tissue of falsehood!

As a nation, we find ourselves in this precarious position because our leaders have been largely clever by half with issues of governance. If governance is predicated on honesty and transparency, identifying with policies would not be a problem because there will be TRUST.

As a boss, can you TRULLY tell your subordinates how you got to the top? Can those you mentor replicate your success using the same strategies you shared with them? Or is there another story behind the story? The web of falsehood is like a never-ending maze. Better not to enter it than to try and get out once in. Only lies need support systems. Once you tell one, you will have to creatively construct others to back it up.

If you want to achieve sustainable success, live your life as an open book and you will have less explanations to make!

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