By Ozodi Thomas Osuji – We live in the age of science. The scientific paradigm of reality tells us that accidents, chance and randomness determine our fate. As this approach to phenomena sees it, the concatenation of events, from the Big Bang to the present, produced us and are responsible for our behavior and fate; in other words we were produced by chance, accident and random events; we have no free will and to the extent that we have consciousness it is epiphenomenal; our thinking is a function of the dance of neurons in our brains.
But there is another way of looking at phenomena. There is the religious and or metaphysical one. Here, it is assumed that there is consciousness and that although it is not fully understood that it plays a role in people’s affairs. I buy into both the scientific and Meta scientific paradigms of reality.
As I see it, the environment, aka nature, affects us but there is also something in us that interacts with the environment and affects our fate. In my metaphysics consciousness is real. Consciousness albeit unconscious plays a role in our fate.
I believe that human beings are actuated by both reason and unreason. Deep in our unconscious minds are both rational and irrational forces that make us do what we do. Sigmund Freud had similar beliefs. As he saw it, people were actuated by Id, ego and superego forces; the Id being irrational, untrammeled desire for sex and aggression; the superego being the repository of social norms in our minds telling us how to behave and punishing us with guilt should we deviate from the accepted norms of society that we were socialized to and incorporated into our self-structures; and the ego balancing both forces. After the First World War where he saw folks kill themselves for inches of territory he added what he called death wish, thanatos as one of the forces actuating people’s behavior.
I am not a Freudian. Although I understand Freud’s subject I prefer to see things my own way rather than say that this or that Western psychologist told me to see things this or that way. As I see it, people have a deep rooted desire for conflict in their lives. People desire conflict and unconsciously or consciously do what would bring them conflict. People seem to seek conflict and, in fact, thrive in it and if it does not exist do what stimulates it. In conflict people feel most alive and without conflict feel bored and do not know what to do with themselves. They want social conflict, stimulate it and get it. They have no one else to blame for their problems; they stimulate their problems.
In this light Nigerians desire to have conflict; they desire to have a little war going on between the various ethnic groups and do what brings that conflict on and get it. See, they have just had a presidential election and elected a nincompoop of a man as their president, a man whose election could only bring about conflict. If the man was a heroic character that actually stood for some glorious goals his election would be admirable. But the man is part of the thieving crowd that held Nigeria hostage during the past twelve years. Jonathan is part of the gangster government of Nigeria.
Common sense, if it existed in Nigerians, would dispose them to elect a person who would come in and rebuild their fallen house, do what needed to be done to straighten the mess that is Nigeria. General Mohammad Buhari would seem one such man. But, instead, Nigerians have elected a rat as their president and a rat infested polity they would have. They asked for trouble and got it and have no one to blame for their rotten fate.
Nigerians consciously and unconsciously desire conflict and conflict they get. Instead of making a rational decision and electing a man who would bring about economic progress in Nigeria (Buhari would have gotten a handle on the incredible corruption that characterize Nigeria…you cannot get anything done in the country without giving someone money… and when that corruption is controlled foreign investors would invest their monies in Nigeria); they elected a chop-chop politician. They have sown the wind and will reap the whirlwind.
These people desire ethnic blood bathing and will get it. One must therefore not be sentimental about what is happening in Nigeria for these people want death and dying and will get what they desire. What else would dispose them to elect a lousy man with no knowledge of leadership and management, a man who cannot organize twelve men and use them to accomplish organizational goals, a man who only knows how to get himself into situations where his bosses are eliminated and he walks in and pretends to be the leader!
You may ask: where is the evidence that there is such a thing as consciousness disposing people to make conscious choices? We live in the age of science and every idea is supposed to be empirically demonstrated as true or discarded. I do not have direct evidence that consciousness is real but if you are aware of quantum mechanics you probable have or should have wondered if, as Polonius told his son, Horatio, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, there is more to life than is studied in our philosophy (science).
Recall that in quantum mechanics observers or consciousness seem to play a role in what is observed. (Quantum mechanics was initiated when Max Planck discovered quanta in 1900…in 1905 Einstein talked about photons in his paper on the photoelectric effect of light, in 1897 J. J. Thomson discovered the electron, in 1911 Rutherford discovered the nucleus of atoms; in 1932 Chadwick discovered the neutron; in 1923 Broglie demonstrated the wave, particle functions of electrons and thereafter the wonder boys of physics, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Dirac etc. propounded Quantum mathematics.)
In the microscopic world, as opposed to the macroscopic world where Newtonian physics still rules, the mere act of observing something, in this case subatomic particles, seems to make it appear. What is not observed may or may not be there (in technical language is in superposition and observation collapses it to where the observer sees it). Neil Bohr’s complementarity is also germane. Particles have both particular and wave quality as demonstrated by split holes experiment. A photon or electron asked to go through a hole does so, as if it is a particle and if there are two holes seems to split itself into two and goes through both holes; meaning that a particle has both particle and wave functions (one thing is one and simultaneously many things, indeed infinite things). Heisenberg demonstrated that we can know either the velocity (momentum) or the position of a particle but not both of them at the same time. His uncertainty principle shows that probability rules in the quantum world.
For our present purpose, quantum mechanics indicates that the mind, consciousness, affects what is happening in the world. In fact, it would seem to lend credence to the old philosophical question: if a tree falls and there is no person to observe it fall was sound made or did a tree fall? If there is no human being to observe the existence of the universe does the universe exist or not? Materialism says that the universe exists independent of human existence but how would we know that if we did not exist? May be despite Dr. Johnson striking his foot on a rock and feeling pain and saying that that refutes Bishop George Berkeley’s solipsism, his idea that the world may be in our minds, or that the world is influenced by our minds, is true after all? You never know if Schrodinger’s cat is alive or dead until you pull the lever affecting its probability of being killed or not. Human beings influence their environment and are not passive objects acted upon, as classical (Newtonian, before Quantum) physics would have us believe.
Look, I am playing with you; I am pulling your legs. I fully believe that we have minds that are apart from matter and that mind does affect matter, and, indeed, that the world of space, time and matter are in our collective minds. In my metaphysics the world is like dream and what happens in it happens as in a dream; dreams are produced by dreamers, us. In reality we are always one, unified spirit self. But we desired separated existence and since we could not have that in spirit we sleep and dream and in our dream gratify our wish for separation hence see us as separated from each other. Separation means conflict. Union means peace. In as much as our world is a place of separation it is a place where we experience the opposite of union, love and peace; it is a place of conflict and war.
In this light Nigerians see themselves as separated from each other; each tribe fancies itself separated from others and therefore they attack each other, do bad things to each other and the result is conflict and war. Conflict is their inevitable experience given their choice for separation. Conflict must they have, as they currently are having. But when eventually they recognize the reality of union and love and love each other they would work for each other’s welfare and quit fighting for the illusion of separation and having different interests, and at that point return to love, to peace and happiness.
I have been reading explanations given why Nigerians voted as they did. In the main, their voting behavior is attributed to their damned ethnic animus. Buhari is from the North, a Muslim; Jonathan is from the south, a presumed Christian (even though he is probably as corrupt as the devil himself). Those Nigerians who see themselves as Christians identify with Jonathan and those who see themselves as Muslims identify with Buhari. Apparently, folks were not making rational choices based on who is capable of leading them from the Sodom and Gomorrah of corruption they live in to the sun light of economic progress they say that they desire.
In general, Hausas voted for Buhari, Igbos voted for Jonathan and Yorubas split their votes between Ribadu and the other candidates. Since Buhari lost Yoruba and Igbo votes the odds were against him in Nigeria’s ethnic based politics. This is truly sad for Nigerians have overlooked a man with the right credential to clean their dirty house and instead hired a fox to guard their hen house.
I tend to be idealistic and wish that human beings loved and cared for one another hence resent seeing people have bad things happen to them. But in as much as I see Nigerians doing what would generate turmoil for them and get it I must desist from feeling moralistic about what I see happening. These people will kill themselves and since the international community see them as niggers who have contributed nothing to science and technology hence are superfluous human beings (they only have oil to sell, oil that nature gave to them, not what they themselves manufactured) they would not come to their help.
White folk historically do not give a damn if black folks massacred themselves…they certainly did not give a damn when Africans killed each other in Southern Sudan, Darfur, Somalia, Congo, Rwanda, even 1960s Nigeria; it seems that white folks are not willing to have their young men go die fighting to protect black lives, lives they consider unproductive. They and the international organizations they control would allow black groups to butcher each other! African deaths don’t seem to count to the world!
If Nigerians start killing each other by the time the United Nations gets to them and pass an empty resolution condemning the killing a year would have passed; by the time they vote to do something about it another year would have passed; finally, they would ask for their members to contribute soldiers to go stop the killing and since white folks would not contribute their military that leaves Africans to do so. Many African countries have both Muslim and Christian soldiers and when they come they would take sides and rape and pillage the people they are supposed to protect, as they currently are doing in the Congo.
If Africans are smart they would know that the outside world does not seem to care for them and care for themselves, and do what serves their mutual interests instead of always harming one another and expecting the outside world to come to their rescue, a world that does not give a damn about them (those of them who consider themselves Christians actually have the delusion that the Christian West would come to their rescue; poor fellows, white Christians probably will not make sacrifices for black folks, go ask black Americans if that is true or not!). In so far that the West cares for Africa at all it is for what they get from it. If there is oil or other minerals then we are talking. They come and get the oil but not care for the people; if in doubt go ask folks living in the Niger Delta whether the western oil companies give a damn about their soil, what with oil flares desecrating their lands! Africa is only relevant to the West if money can be made from it; if not it does not exist and is not mentioned in the West.
One wished that Nigerians did not kill each other but, apparently, people must experience what they want to experience. Nigerians apparently want to experience tension, conflict and mayhem and so it is (of course, without my blessing, but since when did people ask my permission before they did what they wanted to do?).
PS: Given my penchant for detailed and thorough discourse I am tempted to expand this article into a full-fledged one, say, twenty five pages; but I will resist that temptation and limit it to under four pages although that means no idea in it is fully and completely developed; the paper seems scant and choppy; I apologize.