Recently I was part of a Zoom Meeting themed JOY OF PHILOSOPHIZING.
It was quite stimulating that I felt compelled to share my thoughts with you.
The disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought has caused the world to SCRAMBLE. This word, ‘scramble’ was used in Michael Sandel’s article in the New York Times titled “Are We All in This Together? The pandemic has helpfully scrambled how we value everyone’s economic and social roles.” It was the thought paper used to stir up conversations in a group of 30 people.
For me the word scramble makes me think of the analogy of a glass bottle. Let us say, the glass bottle represents the set structures that currently exists in our world today. For some, the bottle is pristine, clean inside and out, very functional – the system works. For others, it looks so clean outside but filthy inside – it’s all branding and marketing. Until you engage with that structure, then you understand what that structure is truly like. For another, this bottle is dirty inside and outside and there’s no apology for its inability to function. Regardless of how pristine or dirty that bottle/structure is, Corona Virus set in and has broken the bottle. Some bottles are more broken than others, but the fact still remains that the bottle is broken. It doesn’t matter how well structured the bottle was or how clean and pristine or pretentious, the bottle is scrambled. Now, the problems and beauty that existed is even more amplified and the breaking of the bottle due to the pandemic in and of itself is painful.
Do we continue to lament about how scrambled the world has become or do we begin to think of what to do with the broken pieces? Fact: Even if we unscramble the broken bottle and attempt to piece it together, it cannot be the same again. So, isn’t it time to create something NEW? A symbolic or functional work of art, an upcycle or a complete recycle of our failed systems; health care, education, finance e.t.c.
The question we must begin to ask ourselves is ‘What is the new construction post COVID-19?’ Will it be better than what existed pre-COVID or will it be worse?
I am particularly moved by the Character Development that I see among everyday people, in Alicia Keys Words “The Underdog.” Seeing a country like Nigeria talk about palliatives and welfare, I consider a good character development for my country. State Governments, making efforts to provide food for the vulnerable, is a good development but truth be told, it shouldn’t take a pandemic to let our leaders know that there is hunger in the land. So, how do we build on these things? How do we ensure that this development is not a flash in the pan?
With the aforesaid, is a new world being created? If Yes, what are we creating? A shadow of the past or a revolutionary character that places no measurement on the worth of a human being. Just simply the fact that we are all humans, so our economic and social roles in society should be valued, period.
I listened to Rev. Al Sharpton's message during George Floyd's memorial service and I was moved by his analogy of cockroaches. We all know when we keep the light off and everywhere is dark, cockroaches will feast on your dinner table but when the LIGHT is turned on, you can see the cockroaches and you can chase and stop them in their tracks.
We've got to keep the LIGHT on — on the injustices. Track down and stop the roaches causing mayhem in our world today. Even the Bible references the importance of LIGHT in fixing the world. In Genesis 1:1-3, after the darkness, void and lack of form on earth was expressed, the next thing GOD created was LIGHT and then GOD began to CREATE all the things the earth needed.
So how do we shine our LIGHT?
It's the season and time to speak up, strategize, march, fund and do all we can to shine the LIGHT on corruption, social injustices, rape, domestic violence and broken systems in our nations. Silence only encourages evil in the world to fester.
Since I was young and now I am getting old, the same problems still exist. Why? Selah.
SHINE YOUR LIGHT!
How can we reconstruct the We? Since our culture has always been about I? Yes to the We!
This is not a time to be selfish, it is a time to build community. Together we are stronger. Together we will win.
The beautiful thing about being child-like is ones openness to PLAY. It frees up the mind of all the weight that comes with living life. I remember vividly when I worked for an Advertising Agency as a copywriter, constantly brainstorming ideas with my art director to sell brand offerings, we often hit a brick wall in the process - a block, where ideas don't flow. When this happens, WE PLAY - we talk about things unrelated to the job, joke about things and engage in anything that will take the pressure off work.
Then boom! Something happens, some one says something or does something that stimulates a round of creative splurge and we get back to the groove of creating compelling stories again.
Play lends itself to imagination. Image + nation. Our mind is a nation of images and play stimulates our mind to create. Note, PLAY isn't just for children, it's for everyone, everywhere. With all that’s happening in the world today, we hardly engage in Play. You may even ask, what is there to play about? EVERYTHING. Play, helps us stay sane in an insane world.
Have you played today?
I have always been fascinated about a large crowd of people organised in a march for a cause. I always wondered why the optics of advocacy marches in other parts of the world seemed more compelling because of their numbers, compared to Nigeria. Well, except for the Enough is Enough movement of which, I proudly held my placard and marched along side other Nigerian citizens to exercise our power for what we believed in. The outcome, I am not inclined to address now because of how disappointed I was with the negotiations. However, community organising is a phrase that I have come to embrace and hope that as citizens we understand our collective power in causing a shift that will impact our nation positively. #blacklivesmatter movement is top of mind right now and the impact is so visible in the current trend of things.
I am quick to learn however, that organising anything takes time. It's an intentional activity. Structures are required, the coming together of people with a common purpose is essential to its existence and sustenance. With consistency, you're bound to reach your tipping point.
So I encourage every organiser, don't give up! Keep organising, keep believing, keep recruiting believers of your cause. One day, you'll reach that tipping point that gives you leverage to make the shift happen, to cause positive change in your community and society at large.
I had an in-depth conversation with my class mate Steven T. Licardi, a couple of days ago about Mental Health in Nigeria. I responded by sharing personal stories on the subject matter and I hope one day, our society will be safe enough for sharing mental health stories in public forums. I hope one day that the stigma attached to persons dealing with mental health issues or families who are saddled with the responsibility of managing the mental health of loved ones are not labelled as cursed, possessed or untouchables.
In the world today, racism is a topical issue born out of biases that makes one human being feel they are more superior than another human being because of the color of their skin. In like manner people have biases against persons who exhibit mental health challenges. It's about time we stop whipping the demons out of persons who may be schizophrenic, bipolar, autistic, dyslexic or suffering from panic attacks. Steven said in our conversation "People are afraid of what they do not know." My response to that is if you do not know, seek knowledge.
There's a place for medicine, therapy and spiritual interventions in the holistic treatment of mental health. We cannot afford to have tunnel vision or be judgemental on this subject matter.
With all that's going on in our world today, many have experienced some form of mental health challenge; depression, anxiety, suicide tendencies. In these times, just asking "How are you?" is so important. We all need to do a self-check.
My co-brigadier Sean Kwan from Hong Kong, said in one of our meetings, with the visual of an oxygen mask in an aeroplane as his zoom backdrop "Before you take care and save somebody else, ensure you take care of yourself first". So I ask you today, HOW ARE YOU?