By Abdullahi Usman
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty – Mahandas Gandhi
Besides the obvious and imminent danger in the form of the immediate and continuing personal threat to life and limbs that it poses to those of us who are unfortunate enough to be caught up in crisis prone areas, the current sustained state of insecurity in the land is gradually destroying our respective individual and collective humanity. It is often said that whenever people do bad things, it tests your faith in humanity. That faith is tested even more when people continue to commit those bad things in a coordinated and sustained fashion. To paraphrase the words I picked from an in-flight magazine I read recently, almost on a daily basis now, “Nigerians – both the old and the young among us – are being exposed to “gory scenes of extreme violence that are almost surreal in their severity, as well as being almost normal in their everydayness”.
The inherent danger in all of this, which may not be very obvious to any of us at the moment, is the fact that we are slowly but gradually being stripped of our respective natural human instincts of empathy; so much so that these horrific acts will eventually become normal, tolerable, or, worse still, even acceptable to us at some point. One would hate to even contemplate how nasty, brutish and short life would become under such a Hobbesian state of nature where everyone is at war against everyone else. This is because even those directly responsible for the ongoing needless carnage and many others who may insidiously be stoking it from behind the scenes will eventually come to regret living in the kind of society they would have helped create for themselves and the (un)fortunate ones among us that would have survived long enough to witness it!
It is thus very useful, at this point, for all of us – the perpetrators, innocent victims and security agencies alike – to constantly remind ourselves of the inherent message contained in a popular refrain that says, “be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it!”. ’ We must, therefore, collectively rise to end the current madness and halt our painfully slow but gradual advance on this perilous journey along the dreadful road to our own Golgotha. Indeed, as the famous China-based US novelist, Pearl Buck (1892 – 1973), rightly observed, “every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied”. ’ May God, in his infinite mercy, save us from ourselves by granting us the courage to seize the moment, while we still can, and arrest this needless and avoidable slide along the dangerous path to our self-inflicted ruination! ’
Abdullahi Usman sent this article from Abuja.