“Every man’s character is good in his own eyes.” – Yoruba proverb
Collectively, we always invoke God to “Bless our homeland, Ghana”. The supplication is for our good. It is a deep-seated desire for truth and justice for ourselves; and then the good of the public interest. But in our day to day interactions, many of us keep finding ourselves being carelessly partisan. We almost always never think through issues independently or ethically. Instead, we are always on the lookout for direction from the parties we support to inform what our conclusions about the subject should be. We have taught ourselves to ‘depend on partisan affiliations as an essential tool for measuring who is likely to think like us and with whom we should bond’.
It is no secret many of us have never really given a thought to the machinery of partisan politics we brand ourselves with. Whether we are politically left-wing or right-wing, the surprising majority among us do not understand that our attachment to the left-right political doctrines go a long way to shape the way our mind works in public interest – even at the basic level of perception and cognition. We see every issue according to the colours of our parties because, fundamentally, political parties exert pressure on the wider public and their supporters by means of propaganda. And as Simone Weil, the French philosopher, mystic and political activist puts it: “the avowed purpose of such propaganda is not to impart light, but to (simply) persuade”.
Such insight reminds us that the partisan mind-set is a hindrance to a free and just society. Sadly, mainstream media continually project such individuals as our educators and informers of that which is good for our nation. And it does not matter which side of the political divide these individuals belong to: their mentality is rigid and their mind-set, their preoccupations, attitudes, thinking styles and emotions are similar.
When you take into consideration the diversity of our humanity, it is dangerous and improper to let individuals whose views are at the extreme ends of the spectrum lead the discussions on national development and societal growth. To bridge diversity, we should engage individuals whose views are more aligned to the centre to enable the aspirations of all to be considered in the way forward.
Research after research has revealed that individuals who are mentally rigid tend to perceive objects and issues in purely black-and-white terms. It is either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for them. They do not appreciate the ‘maybes’ or the crucial shades of grey in-between the black and white. This attitude makes it difficult for them to switch between modes of thinking or adapt to changing environments. The partisan-minded individual falls within this category. The only good they perceive is the good their parties preach to them. They do not necessarily have any vested interest but to see their party in power. And for this, they will go to extra lengths without regard to the damage their actions and inactions cause society.
Maybe we know or know not, but every political party – irrespective of their leanings or the society they operate in – has as its foremost object its growth. All they desire is to grow till they can become the most dominant group in society. Contrary to popular opinion/teaching, they do not have the nation at heart. To this end, they focus their energies on pressuring the minds and hearts of the wider public to subscribe to their cause in order to gain more followers. And this pressure, Weil asserts, “is very real; it is openly displayed; it is professed and proclaimed. It should horrify us, but we are already too much accustomed to it”.
When it comes to politics, it is our emotions rather than our intellect that determines our leanings. That is why many among us do not see anything wrong with the activities of political parties, and thus lend them our blind support. But it does not take much to see through them because history has shown that “all movements, however different in doctrine and aspiration, draw their adherents from the same types of humanity; they all appeal to the same types of mind”. The political parties follow that same methodology. They seek to engage those who are poorly esteemed and those who have a sense of personal frustration with the way things are, and impress upon them as being the vehicle to provide the goodness that ends their plight.
How can groups that seek to divide us actually lead us to any goodness? As individuals, and citizens, we have a duty to educate ourselves about goodness and how it can be achieved. We need to understand that it takes flexibility in our thinking and attitudes to unearth and implement the creative and constructive solutions we need for our challenges. We must recognise, all of us, that being partisan is akin to being blind and deaf to the wonderfulness in other views and other people. And we must learn to recognise that despite the differences in our likes and preferences, we are more similar within than we think …
Kodwo Brumpon is an author, a life coach and a philanthropist who inspires individuals, groups and organisations to think and feel that which is true, by helping them to positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions.
Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]