One inevitably wrong fact which has outplayed over the course of human life on earth is the sad thread of ethno-religious hate or discrimination. I think indeed there is no nation under the heavens, in which so much has already been made and felt of this issue than our great Nigeria. This narrowness of thoughts and spirit on all sides has undoubtedly been the principal occasion of Nigeria’s miseries and confusions. But whatever the occasion, it is now high time we seek for a thorough cure.
In the US, a country which prides itself as the country of absolute liberty; just and true liberty; equal and impartial liberty, a country with as diverse ethnic, religious and socio-cultural groups as the sands of the earth, the tons of toxic ethno-religious hate and discrimination emanating therefrom in recent times lends credence to the tunes that generous remedies are urgently needed to calm the obvious distemper the world over.
Over the course of the centuries, different strands and shapes of thoughts have immensely affected the world — either positively or negatively. Thoughts — manifested as actions — remain the number one determinant of what has always been the place of man in orbital earth. Every right thinking person, at least, wants not to merely move through life like a sound-producing, perambulating object; but to develop, to improve, and to continue the mental development to the close of physical life. Thoughts shape our lives. It is fair to say that what defines and explains a particular group of persons or individual lies not only in the shared language, common culture, nor skin pigmentation, but also, in the manner a group or an individual places priority on their collective thoughts and perceptions.
Sadly and practically, indeed, there exists some special continuous degradation from the infinite speed of cultural assimilation, where a handful section of blacks, mostly in Western world are experiencing various degrees of discrimination only as a result of the color of their skin. Back here, it is because of the religion one chooses to belong to that would subject him to disadvantage or discrimination. This dangerous and unbecoming form of thought, which directly contrasts the equitableness and innocence of human living, calls for a major concern for everybody.
What makes it saddening however, is that such noxious thoughts and subsequent noxious actions are propelled more on religious excuses. That any man should think fit to cause another man whose peaceful existence offers no imminent harm, to expire in torment and that even in an unconverted state, would, I confess, seem very strange to me, and I think, to any other also. But nobody, surely, will ever believe such carriage can proceed from charity, love or goodwill. If, like the Captain of our salvation, they sincerely desired the good of other souls, they would tread in the steps, and follow the perfect example of that Prince of Peace, who sent out his soldiers to the subduing of nations and races, and gathering them into his Church, not armed with swords or guns, but with the gospel of peace and exemplary holiness of their conversion. What perhaps might be termed minute or little has tremenduously blown out of proportion today. The black skin is thus regarded by some Western thoughts as a communicable disease which ought to be avoided at all costs. A vivid thought brings the power to paint life; and in proportion to the depth of its source is the force of its projection.
In order not to engage in a sentimental and totally biased discourse, it is pertinent that we allow room for the presumption that maybe some Western views exist that share some sympathy for the black skin, the African black skin that is. But that, at best, is contained in a tiny fragment of the wide canvass of racial prejudice which are most often targeted at Africans. Their sympathy could at best be pretentious or futile. The international community has not only been partial in matters of racial or religious discrimination, but those also who have suffered under racially or religiously prejudiced regimes and climes, and have therefore endeavored to vindicate themselves through their rights and liberties, are for the most part restricted and subdued. It would be very hard for one that appears careless and reluctant about what happens to me, to persuade me that he were extremely and sincerely concerned about what I do. Now, I appeal to the conscience of those who persecute, torment, destroy and kill other men upon the pretense of racial or religious slants, whether they do it out of friendship and kindness, or not, and I shall then, and not till then, believe they do so, when I shall see those fiery zealots correcting, (persecuting, tormenting, destroying and killing), in the same manner, their friends and personal families for the manifest sins they commit against the precepts of the Gospel!
Bringing it down to our clime, nobody therefore, in fine, neither single persons, nor even countries have any just title to invade the civil rights and worldly possessions of each other. The devious Boko Haram sect should be made to understand this. Those that remain of a different persuasion would do well to consider with themselves how pernicious a seed of discord or war, how powerful a provocation to endless hatreds, slaughters, they thereby furnish unto mankind. No peace and security, no, not so much as common friendship, can ever be established or preserved among men, so long as this persuasion prevails. That dominion is founded on falsity and that ethno-religious superiority is to be propagated by force of arms.
Even with the Boko Haram’s continued effort to thwart the shared history of Nigerians, it is certain that they never succeed in their campaign. Nevertheless, it is apposite that the right path is maintained, and that is the path of tolerance. Tolerance strictly requires of us as humans to think of and see others as we would see ourselves. I will not undertake to represent how true or valid this assertion is, lest I should seem to reflect upon severed and non-consequential matters. But suffice it to be said that oppression raises ferments, and it makes men constantly struggling to cast off the uneasy and tyrannical yokes of oppression. Under whatever guise, racial or religious, the earth was not instituted to serve the purpose of one particular group over the other.
As we garner more and more experience on this journey called life, the more material we collect for shaping our thoughts and perceptions. And as for those who profess superiority in spirit and opinions, religion can only be adequately gleaned from the horoscope of religion itself. It is not left for men to dictate what or what should make up religious beliefs. The life and beauty of being a true Christian is what goes beyond ordinary explanation by one who isn’t a Christian!
WRITTEN BY ARIKOR COLLINS.