“When you see your neighbour’s beard on fire, fetch water for yours.” – Akan proverb
“Open your eyes and look within: Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?” These words of Bob Marley taken from his ‘Exodus’ song not only stirs self-reflection, but are actually a rousing call to make the world a better place. All throughout our history, the acquisition of education and the institution of democratic governance have always been touted as the most elemental tools which free individuals and groups to live in dignity and at peace with one another.
Sadly, these view have only worked in theory. The reality is that many within our humanity have struggled for those elemental tools and yet continue to experience the devastating effects of oppression and discrimination.
The worst part is religion – which is supposed to “break (this) downpression rule (with) equality, wipe away transgression, (and) set the captives free” – has been infiltrated by commercialisation and lost its footing. Many are those touting themselves as shepherds and devouring the sheep. We live in the twenty-first century, wherein we have made staggering triumphs in our humanistic, scientific and artistic imagination; yet a significant population of our humanity live with injustices. Many are those who live with prejudice and violence against them.
We have enshrined human rights and freedoms into our constitutions, and creatively devised methods and processes which ensure these same rights and freedoms of some humans are plainly violated on an everyday basis. We have structured our societies in layered classism and smoked it as dreamy and aspirational achievements. Yet, three score years after Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, our humanity is fettered with the same shameful conditions of injustice in our economic, social, religious and technological systems. Is it any wonder that ‘success’ for many resembles a mirage?
What are we really afraid of? That is the question we need to ask of ourselves. Why do we live with prejudices and violence against each other? What is really stopping us from dignifying every human being? Why do we have to suppress others, till the only way out for them is a fight for their survival? Can anybody tell us why any “generation (should) trod through great tribulation?” Over the centuries, common-sense gleaned from the revolutions and uprisings have taught us that “legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating (season) of freedom and equality”.
So, why do we want to prolong the inevitable? In this age of enlightenment, why do we desire to and actually continue propagating the darkness of discrimination and inequality against some others? What happened to “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father?” When is justice going to become a reality in our humanity?
We do not need all of eternity to create just societies. All we need and have is today. And all we need to make that difference is this moment. Many of us think of ourselves as decent and good individuals, yet we are the same ones who are slow to speak up for justice. We see an injustice and tell ourselves we need time to digest it through.
You make an observation of ‘evil attempting to grab power’ and you restrain every impulse inside you to counter it. What evil can be greater than such an act? If you care to know, you are one of the many reasons evil exists. You are not decent when you keep quiet about any injustice! Your silence makes you an accomplice. It makes you “lukewarm, neither hot nor cold”, so God says “He will spit you out of His mouth!”
For too long, many of us have been engaged in the business of ‘turning a blind-eye” when it comes to injustice in our homes, communities and societies, with full knowledge that such conduct only agitates and enhances evil. If you can think about it, you need to ask yourself, “how much more evil can we be?” Why do we allow evil to triumph when our happiness is tied to the happiness of all others? How can you think you are a better person when you choose to be insensitive to the injustices meted out to others? If you can imagine and actually think of yourself as better than the next person, then you need to question your belief in God.
It has been drummed into our ears that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. So when you look down on another person, you have looked down on God. Is that not the reason Christ said, “Whatsoever you do to the least person, you do it to Him”. Life is a movement of Jah people. It is not a race.
It is a destination, and Bob Marley put it brilliantly when he sang: “We know where we’re going, we know where we’re from. We’re leaving Babylon (the oppressive system of injustice), we’re going to our Father’s land (the creation of a just system for all). That is why a meaningful life is one of appreciationfor the good we offer in the moments and glean out of every experience. And “when you see Jah light”, you will understand it is poorly-esteemed individuals who need an unjust system to thrive…
>>> the writer is a management consultant and a life coach who inspires individuals, groups and corporate bodies to think and feel that which is true, and empower 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]