|Danger of perceptions in nation-building|
|Written by P. Rudolf|
|Wednesday, 15 August 2012 20:59|
People inherit perceptions from birth; grow into adulthood with these discernments about almost everything and everyone.Many at times, images are created in the mind, more often than not, a primeval caricature, distorting our true being. It is the perceptions and the prejudices that steer us, keeping us in a box. Unbiased people are rare; our society marginalizes them quickly and their own groups radiate such members. The majority do not understand them because they don’t want to be known.
Perceptions and prejudices are a mental prison in that no one can move far in a prison as there are walls all around you. Outside, there is freedom of space where one’s mind can run beyond any limit. In the context of nation building, the perceptions we have of each other are debasing many honest efforts to build our young nation, to unite us and to live together peacefully.
Today, we see what our ancestors saw after they have met and clashed in ancient times, and what they remembered and told their children. Our ancestors’ most terrible moments, their suffering, how they were deceived and maltreated, their tears and sorrows, are the bulk of our inheritance and this is what we too pass on to our children. It becomes an ever growing perception, a one-sided picture that is the foundation of generational mistrust and the wish for revenge.
Whether we are uneducated or under-educated, it is impossible to escape our perceptions. Even accomplished people fall prey to them. We have to accept that such an understanding of each other is not a solid ground to build on. It is a bottomless quagmire that has to be avoided at all cost if we want to liberate ourselves from the past and grow together to become one healthy nation.
Although we have to do away with the ghosts of the past, we have to think about the past to understand what happened then with ideologies, believes and superstitions - which other peoples elsewhere in our world have already overcome. Time is dynamic and we should learn to move on with it!
How to overcome perceptions
There is an urgent need to correct the images we have of each other. We look down on those without work, those who are sick and the poor who are living in miserable shacks or eating from dumping sites. We look down on others because of their color, languages and customs. We look down on those without a proper education and we still do not ask the question ‘why’ there is this huge artificial inequality between us. What we really see is the ‘baadjie’ and not the human being wearing it. We still do the same that others did hundreds of years ago to us.
We should make use of a mirror before we try to analyze others. This is important because we are all human beings sharing the same human aspirations, needs, desires and shortcomings. We were all created in one single image; one master builder used one blueprint only. The moment we accept this knowledge consciously, we will be able to understand the underlying problems of our poor world better and we will be able to do something to solve our problems.
We also have to understand that the environment in which our ancestors lived for untold generations affects us all. And by this we do not only mean the sun, wind and rain, but the all embracing environment that forms our ancestor’s color and our different ways of life (culture).
The environment protected and isolated the people of the subcontinent well, a fact that still affects us today. Others, from other parts of this world are different from us, but they are not better or worse than we are. Therefore, we have to learn to know each other better since there are no other alternatives. If we eventually know each other; if we know who we really are and how the environment shaped humans in different ways, we’ll be able to accept each other. Knowledge breeds comfort!
Humans born under favorable and unfavorable conditions
For some, life was easy; the climate was always friendly, the sun dominated the weather and Mother Nature gave in abundance. Others were never so lucky where they roamed; the weather was cold and hunger was a constant companion. The environment forced people to plan, to store in good times and to us meager resources sparingly in lean times.
Warm climates, fertile soils, natural pathways for the exchange of knowledge and skills and products are ‘favorable’ conditions. Man sought, grabbed and defended them. Warm weather, plenty of water and a diversity of natural plants and animals brought about agriculture, and desert dwellers had to adapt to their environments too. The hunter-gatherers also eked out a comfortable life then and co-existed peacefully with others.
The unfavorable conditions refer to long cold winters, short summers, infertile soil and impenetrable woods that made the survival of the fittest possible. Individuals and communities needed to make enormous efforts, both mentally and physically, to simply keep alive. However, these conditions brought about a hardy, flexible, enterprising and technically minded people. After billions of years, eventually some of the global communities became the conquerors of this world.
Then there are regions we can describe as extreme. To survive in deserts, in rain forests or in icy regions, and without animals to domesticate means that people in the northern hemisphere had to concentrate on survival only. These regions became the home of those banished by their own kind.
People living in harsh areas avoided to live together in great numbers because many mouths would have added to their hardships. Everywhere on earth, we find people living on the very edge of life and death.
Materialism and corruption
It is clear that easy-life will certainly corrupt man. If there are not enough constant challenges, one will not take initiatives to overcome problems like others who live under stressful conditions. Indeed in a ‘fool’s paradise’ life is idle and luxurious.
Living an idle life left some people mentally weak, while some disappeared altogether. Initiatives are born out of urgent situations. We can thus safely say that an easy life lead to people’s natural abilities to stagnate and degenerate.
In modern life, we see that the most materialistic favorable condition is sometimes the most morally corrupting. We see that money and power corrupts, spelling repeated disaster even for whole nations.
Thus, it does not matter to which language group one belongs; we all have to be vigilant to protect ourselves from any form of corruption; be it ideological or materialistic. Knowledge and skills are prerequisites to achieve happiness in our overpopulated and exploited world. Perceptions that obstruct progress and happiness should be discarded. It is not easy to do away with sensitivities, but if others can do it, why can’t Namibians?
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 21:01|