*By Jomo Sanga Thomas
(“Plain Talk”, May 22, 2020)
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
“I won’t tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world’s voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely — or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!’ — Oscar Wilde
We are at a crucial point in our society where political correctness has become permanent features of the political firmament. The sole intent of the political class is to intimidate a large swath of society, friend and foe alike, into reluctant obedience.
All of us must decide what kind of future we want for ourselves and our children, our neighbours and the nation we call home. We must decide to speak up now or risk being enslaved by an overbearing orthodoxy that desires strict conformity. Speaking up does not mean blind and mindless opposition. As Ta-Nahisi Coates says, “it must mean placing our leaders and nation under unrelenting scrutiny because they are all we have got”.
We must never become so complacent so as to allow extreme minority voices to rule over the reasonable majority. It is a truism that the world will not be destroyed only by those who do wrong or evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.
Many of us went to the best schools, pursued outstanding careers and made successes of ourselves. However, we have been indoctrinated to believe the mind-benders. We may have been trained, rather than educated. We cannot really claim to be educated if we never question prevailing reality or take life alternating risks in pursuit of the common good.
Too many of us are afraid to speak our minds? We stand by, sometimes cheer as friends, acquaintances, family members are shamed, intimidated or brutalised into submission for speaking their minds? We practise self-censorship, afraid to rouse the maddening mob, even when that mob is perceived, often incorrectly, to be the majority? How many of us are too scared to have our lives ruined, simply for standing up for what we believe in?
People who try to silence dissent against “popular belief” are scared of individual thought. They attempt to silence contrarian views not because their ideas are intellectually superior, but because they are fragile. They don’t know how to coherently and confidently defend their ideas against scrutiny. They offer rage and slander instead of enlightening conversation. Their mantra remains, wrong forum, not here, not now!
They shut down debate so that they can stay safe and certain in their conceited and deceitful bubbles. They don’t want to doubt their current beliefs; they refuse to grow and to acknowledge that they might be wrong.
They confuse and conflate their views with what is right for the nation and its people. They have complete disregard for informed debate and policy opinions that differ from theirs.
We need people to speak up, now more than ever.
In this COVID-19 period and beyond, the interrogation of those controlling of our financial, educational, religious and power corridors must become a permanent feature of our lives.
*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].