PEACE, PROGRESS AND PROSPERITY CANNOT BE ACHIEVED WITHOUT DISCIPLINE
Discipline is the basis of the whole universe. The sun and the planetary movements around it are all governed by a set of laws to maintain perfect harmony and beauty. Without this order, there would be utter chaos. Similarly, discipline is one of the basic equipment of a civilized society.
Societies which were not governed by discipline and order, fell prey to outside aggressions and degenerated. The strength of a nation lies in discipline. It helps to make progress, fight external invasions and maintain national unity.
Citizens of a disciplined nation work with a spirit of cooperation and unity. History tells us that whenever a nation is torn apart by internal strife, it morale drops and opportunist neighbours often take advantage of the situation. Discipline means mode of life in accordance with rules. It, however, does not mean negation of personal liberty.
Discipline means to subject oneself to control. In a democratic country with a small population, like The Gambia, progress can only be achieved if there is discipline among the citizens. In order to maintain law and order in the country, the Government makes laws.
This is to make the citizens disciplined and to maintain harmony in the country. But if people object to a certain law, then they can mobilize public opinion and force the government to withdraw it. But it is possible only if they do not take the law in their own hands. They must act with restraint and organize peaceful agitation; otherwise there is every possibility of violence and threat of life and property.
The importance of discipline in educational institutions is well-recognized. The temples of learning must have a serene atmosphere to enable the students to learn something. This is possible only if the teachers and student remain disciplined. In fact knowledge multiplies only when there is perfect discipline within and without. Unfortunately, we notice that discipline in our schools and colleges has considerably declined. Students are disrespectful to their teachers; they misbehave in class- room and organize strikes. This alarming trend has been attributed to the fact that there is a growing discontentment among the students.
Discipline is also the life-breath of the Armed Forces. Military discipline imposes upon the officers and other ranks a certain code of conduct. The code of the conduct demands from the officers and other ranks loyalty to the country, a spirit of fellowship and a readiness to cope with an emergency. No army can put up a brave front against the enemy if it lacks discipline.
The importance of discipline in the social and political life of a nation is also very great. The elements of apathy and sub-massiveness have been the causes of backwardness of our country. We have made much progress in the field of science and technology, but still as a people we have not been able to shake off our backwardness. Gambians are known for their warmth and friendliness, yet they are narrow-minded, bigoted and indifferent.
In the political sphere also, there is a need for discipline. Personal ambition and jealously are the driving forces for the men in power. This is a source of great agony to the people. The ruling party itself is divided by internal politics. It cannot set an example for the nation to follow.
This has lowered the image of the ruling party in the eyes of the common man. The government must take immediate steps to improve its image and restore people’s faith in the democracy. This can be achieved only if each party member follows a certain code of ethics.
Discipline is important even in the domestic life. Parents must raise their children in a congenial atmosphere and teach them the right values. They should set an example for their children by leading orderly and peaceful lives themselves. It is often seen that children from broken homes become very aggressive and indiscipline. They posed a danger to the other people around them. Children must grow in secure and happy homes to become responsible adults. Perhaps the best service to the country lies in an effort of parents to bring up their children in a disciplined manner.
Discipline, though difficult, is essential for personal growth as well as national prosperity. Absence of it can lead to failure, defeat and backwardness. In the present society, it is very important to learn to live in harmony with fellow human beings in a spirit of co-operation and mutual co-existence. All this is possible only if every individual follows a personal code of ethics and the one laid by the law for the prosperity of the nation and the progress of the society at large.
Momodou Alieu Bah
Brigadier General (rtd)