Monday 4 February 2013

Thought Picnic: Finding significance in our shared humanity

A multi-cultural person
I always find myself at the point where cultures conflict though it is not as obvious as it is for those of mixed race ethnicity.
However, I am grateful that the conflict is externalised rather than internalised but difference is accentuated in voice and reasoning, I will not give up either to conform because the wonder of being a product of the influence of many cultures is that rather than get pigeon-holed, you don't get placed, categorised or judged too harshly if you refuse to be subsumed into a dominant cultural experience.
The inspiration of circumstance
Why have I started this blog in this way? I just read of a second suicide of a university student in Nigeria that no one could attribute to anything – the stories concerning the two young men who took their lives are sketchy and peripheral and knowing how the dominant cultural expression thinks, it is unlikely that anyone will get to the bottom of why presumably promising, quiet and academically able young men will take their lives.
Now, this is where my difference is, I was born an Englishman, it has a strong imprint, part of my formative years were spent in Nigeria amongst people who were not on my tribe and culture and then my late teens were spent in the potpourri of diversity that you will find in post-secondary education.
Proud of all influences
I only had to speak and my accent betrayed a difference but when my dad said, I have always thought like a Westerner and my brother suggested I was not really one of the rest, though my sense of belonging was challenged the innate ability to adapt and thrive wherever I have lived has stood me in really good stead, I belong where I choose to belong.
Roughly, I have spent a third of my life in England, Nigeria and the Netherlands respectively, all with much that has influenced my outlook to life and the most important one for me is to be more understanding of people, their circumstances, their decisions, their persuasions and their sometimes unfortunate judgements that fuel moralising, sententiousness and intemperate attitudes.
Understanding matters
Again, we may never understand why those young men took their lives but knowing what I know now about many things that I have experienced and observed of our societies, we will need to tackle some taboo subjects to appreciate these issues better.
I remember too many instances where what I needed was just some care and understanding when I faced some psychologically threatening issues but the circumstances real as they were to me were dismissed with frivolity that you internalised turmoil and found some sort of attitude adjustment – solutions are not easy to come by.
Have I ever contemplated suicide? I have and many times, times when you hoped the ground will open up and swallow you than face a situation, the wrath or live through a circumstance because you were badly behaved, you had been violated, you were threatened or you were not performing as expected of you – I read a comment accompanying the news of the suicide – “Everything will fail you, but Jesus never fails. Try him today.”
Walk a yard in my shoes
Such hit-and-run philosophical musings are hardly helpful, as we approach the Christian Easter, we should remember that the Apostle Peter in the most trying times of his followership of Jesus Christ denied his master thrice and his master was not even dead yet, nor must we forget that Judas Iscariot was as much an apostle chosen amongst men who saw all that deeds and heard all the words and still he committed suicide.
We sometimes believe we know all things though many have hardly walked a yard in the shoes of another nor are we the embodiment of the total experiences of the many that we see around us. If we all told our stories to the detail necessary to sympathise or maybe even dare to empathise if we could, we would realise that the second, third or fourth man from us has probably seen more of life than we could ever have the capacity to face that we would faint at a fraction of what they have faced.
Good Samaritan aspiration
I wrote yesterday that I do not want to be a better Christian, I would rather be just a good Samaritan, there is much to that realisation. It is commonly said that we judge others by their actions and ourselves by our good intentions.
The Good Samaritan matched his good intentions with his actions, he dug deep into his humanity putting himself in the state of the wounded stranger and doing all he could do to help that stranger than the more religious people who left the stranger for dead.
I dare say that the more religion we profess, the more likely we would leave people for dead, judge their actions, find reason to castigate them, give foundation to our prejudices and boldly expound on our bigotries.
Let your humanity show through
The core of humanity is a different thing, it is not subject to any belief system it is just the heart connecting to that of another thinking this simple thing – If I were met with the circumstances the other person is in, what will I do and what will I hope others will do for me?
Our society suffering the turmoil of negativity of abuse, expectations, criticism, dangers, threats, mistakes and much else piles on pressures that the simplicity of words will not assuage, it is  involvement, engagement, listening, touching, hugging, understanding that some people need to see beyond their clouds – before you so readily judge and condemn, be aware that that invincible and inviolable man within you might just in the right theatre be like the person we have suddenly rubbished, excoriated and condemned with disinterest and indifference thinking we are being helpful.
In all that I have written here, I have not even begun to tackle the issues that I had to mind when I started this blog, let us read this as an introduction, there is much to talk about on these suicides – if anything, just say a prayer for anyone you have until now been unable to bless for reasons of your religious beliefs without which you might have been more understanding.

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