What is the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the word corruption? Most Americans have no idea what real corruption is. Visualize a third world county hospital not having basic necessities like gloves because a high level official is refusing to accept the free donation? Why? Because he would rather show off his power than see his people helped? In the Concise Oxford Dictionary the word corruption means decomposition, moral deterioration, perversion, and deformation. But what does it mean in real life?
I will give you several examples of corruption. As you already know, I am originally from Ukraine. In order for me to get married to an American, my husband and I had to jump through so many legalistic hoops that you cannot not even imagine. At that point Ukraine still had a Communist mentality and if you wanted something to happen, you had to “grease its wheels” a bit! At one point we even wondered if it was worth getting married!
The road police did not stop you because you violated some law, but to see if they could find something wrong so they could extract a bribe from you. If you wanted a room in a hotel, you had to pay a bribe! If you did not want to spend hours at customs, you had to pay a bribe! If you wanted to have clean bandages and a clean bed at the hospital, you had to pay a bribe! If you wanted a pain killer during an appendectomy, you had to pay a bribe! I got a C in Algebra in my senior year at High School not because of my lack of knowledge, but because my family could not afford to pay $50 as a bribe to my teacher!
And now we are in Malawi. We watch as a once lush and massively forested county is slowly turning into a desert! Now the trees are cut in the protected national parks and no one cares a bit! Police drive by mountains of chopped wood and piles of illegal charcoal. Sometimes they will stop and buy some. Meanwhile a driver may be fined by the police for not having two triangles while a “junker” with no headlights or windows is waved on through!
Has anything like this happen to you in America? What makes you think that the government is corrupt? In America, corruption hardly exists! I have never encountered problems in America like I did in Ukraine and now do in Malawi. Inefficiency in dealing with the INS? Yes! But they never asked me to “help” them do their job! In order for one to fully understand and appreciate the whole meaning of this word, he or she needs to move into a third world country and live there for at least a month. Then, and only then, the meaning of this word will fully sink in!