I have often wondered why it is that despite the fact that we all came from Africa it is usually black Africanness at the bottom of the racist pecking order- from Italy where a Nigerian man was killed in a racist attack to the United States where there have been more shootings of innocent black people than I can count.
Why is it that you can easily YouTube the murder of an innocent man who did not make any effort to resist and despite the evidence there will be people who will still demonize him instead of accept that our society can do better and needs healing?
Surely it must be some form of self-hate as a society. If we all came from Africa evolutionarily, do we then hate ourselves?
What is the cost of these illusions we create as a society?
Why is it that instead of acknowledge the role that slavery may have played in the current state of affairs in America, we scapegoat the victims?
Why is it that so often we talk about the health and social problems faced by natives in Canada without it being framed in light of how they were abused?
Why do we choose to be myopic?
Why is it that instead of creating a real conversation about the Biafran war or the economic and environmental damages the people of the Niger Delta have sustained, we simply label them as miscreants once violence and extremism is created in the void where sincere dialogue could be?
We would do anything other than put our pride aside and make amends. We will scape goat, we will close our ears, we will create an illusion of safety, of certainty, of perfection, of control.
We create dichotomies- who is in and who is out- then we create armed guards to stand at the gates of our illusions to keep them pure.
That is a lot of work. The other alternative is to kick the ground beneath our feet and accept uncertainty and the mess that reality is.
But who wants this?
When our identity is so rooted around nationalism how do we accept that our nation has failed?
When we consider our identity pure, what other choice but prejudice and scapegoating do we have to make sense of those who will taint our purity?
We fight for the purity of our tribes and texts and pledges and constitutions because were we to admit the humanity of them how will our identity built around them survive?
Even at the expense of the humanity of others we want purity, we want hierarchies, we want clear cut lines – outsider here, insider there.
When we create illusions then we need to invest so much energy in protecting them. Even when it is obvious that our illusions are no longer working for us – even when the cost is so high to sustain it, even when it literally kills us and others, we still choose to hold on and go off into la la land.
I could also make that question personal. When it costs me being a decent human being, when it limits my experiences, when it makes me right at the cost of perhaps hurting others and myself, when it is easier to simply put my pride aside and change, why is change still hard?
To change is a sort of death and when we as individuals or our society are so tied to our false self, it is even harder to embrace that death.
I know this because it is true on a personal level. As an imperfect human being, I know how change can feel like a death. Even though it is the constant in my life course, change is often a death to something – very often my false identity- and it can be very hard. I can kick so hard against it sometimes.
From that perspective of reflecting on our own personal struggles with change it is not so hard to look more compassionately at our society and understand how we as a society prefer our illusions to dealing with reality.
But if we knew the cost to ourselves and to future generations of holding so tightly to our illusions would it be easier for us to let go and choose change instead?
For surely we are more than our illusions. And maybe we can find our real self as a society and as individuals once we stop trying so hard to hold on to the false.
I am a Doctoral candidate who graduated at the age of 18 with a Bachelors in Honours Science and got a Masters in Science the following year at 19 years of age. Excited to share my best skills here with you:)