07 Sep The Lottery of Birth
I would begin this little write up with a quote by British philosopher Bertrand Russell “Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.”
What if I told you that almost everything you had been taught since you were born could be wrong? Before we can shape the world, the world has already shaped us. On the day we were born, many of us (if not all of us) were included in a never ending battle of US VS THEM. We were included in a family and slowly we begin to learn about what being a human means, who is in our family, who is not, what tribe we belong to, etc. Now the ideal point for a democracy is to determine who best to rule the nation. But many times what we see in the world is voters making irrational decisions based on racism, tribalism or trivial issues like that. For example in the last American presidential elections, what we saw was a battle of sexes, a battle of races, people put aside the idea of the best leader but rather just wanted someone who they could call their own in charge.
I mean it seems absurd that a man who wasn’t sure of his economic strategies was selected as the face of the so called capitalist party and in a liberal party, a woman who has been supporting the elite class of the nation was selected over a man who had more liberal strategies. But let’s come back home to our dear nation Nigeria. Tribalism continues to be a cancer which keeps on eating at the majority of all Nigerians. Quoting David Ropeik: “Tribalism is pervasive, and it controls a lot of our behavior, readily overriding reason.”
How do we expect to move forward when a Yoruba man can’t deal with the idea of an Ibo man being his president? I mean I think it is pure stupidity that people would rather an illiterate to a well-qualified person cause of his or her race, tribe, sex, religion etc. It is quite appalling that some people can actually utter statements like “it is my tribes turn to rule” with pride and confidence or when parents tell their children they can’t marry people because they don’t like their tribe. Let’s delve into another aspect of our lives that has constant turbulence. Quoting Sean O’Casey “Politics has slain its thousands, but religion has slain its tens of thousands.”
Religion could be seen as one’s explanation for the supernatural. What’s amusing is that many of us choose religions without knowing why? I mean most people practice their religion cause of their families, and they never bother checking whether this explanation of the supernatural actually checks up, but are prepared to spill blood at the slightest push. A study by Vexen Crabtree found out there is a positive correlation between violence and religion For example, according to the economist, in Nigeria from 1990 to 2007, 20,000 have been killed specifically in the name of religion. No wonder Robert Maynard Pirsig said that “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.”
Now, here are situations that have occurred cause of religions which many at times claim they are preaching messages of peace;
2) Mohammed Merah, a French national originally from Algeria, whose story was told by The Economist (2012). His Islamic beliefs led him to the wild conclusion that in order to be rewarded by God and thusly to live forever in paradise, he had to conduct a series of terror attacks in France. He did so, killing four adults and three children.
3) The mass suicide of the people’s temple led by Jim Jones cause of fear of an imminent apocalypse over 270 children died and over 600 adults. On the flip side, this apocalypse is yet to happen.
Now, this isn’t to say we shouldn’t be patriotic or we shouldn’t be religious or things like that. Religion, for example, gives people inner peace and tribes give some people a sense of belonging but I believe these things shouldn’t remove logic and rationality from our mind. I think Barack Obama sums it up properly in his congratulatory speech for Donald trump; “At first, we aren’t republicans or democrats but rather Americans.” Taking this a bit further, at birth we aren’t Americans or Nigerians or Yoruba or Ibo or Christians or Muslims. We are all human. We should always remember this. If we aren’t able to realize this I fear for where humanity is heading.