There is a cunning paradox that places conflicting elements within the same societal context, resulting in an undeclared contest. It constitute a major part of human anomalies passed down from generations. Consequently, we now find ourselves at a time when the society is highly stratified like never before. It is a scenario that gives credence to the class struggle expounded by Karl Marx. This in a way correlate with observable quantities that serves as precursors to internal explosion.
We are already witnessing a shrinking middle class, and mobility across social and economic spectrum seems to be strictly regimented and confined to a few. This imparts divergence and a clearer classification of the society into rich and poor, powerful and weak, etcetera. Those who falls on the wrong side of this divide becomes perpetual victim of oppression and injustice. On the other hand, those who occupy the upper echelon of the society harvest the opportunities meant for all, leaving only tiny crumbs behind for the rest.
This phenomenon itself is nothing new. Societies are always stratified along social and economic classes, arising in competition for already scarce resources. History suggests that such realities are stepping stones for chaotic coexistence in the long term, which may result into violent revolutions if not properly managed. Moreover, it is the existence of such tension soaked realities that inspired the pursuit and design of social systems by history’s early thinkers, the purpose of which is to proffer methodologies that can even out those imbalance.
However, the Nigerian scenario takes this further. We are seeing a gradual elimination of the middle class, and a continuous decline of our moral strength. Opportunities and wealth that belongs to all are cornered by a select few. Those in power flexes their power to oppress the weak. Injustice and corruption are at their fullest sway. Justice is denied to many while those who are strong enough perpetrate heinous crimes with impunity. Consequently, poverty is fattened as our poverty rate currently stands at over 70%. Insecurity is on the rise. Even more so, we are fast losing our moral values which should have preserved our sanctity and sanity.
In the midst of this is a crop of elites who are not directly involved in the corruption and injustice that reduces the dignity of men and women in Nigeria, but whose silence indirectly sanctions such oppression. These are men and women whose voices would have been heard only if they were willing to offer it. They are not cognizant of the fact that their indifference in silence perpetuate the suffering of so many. These men feel at ease and secure, and actively avoids anything that threatens their security. They are unwilling to bear any risk that may be associated with speaking for the oppressed. Thus they maintain a consistent policy of silence and indifference. Howbeit, this is a misguided notion, for when violence eventually erupts, not many will be spared.
This indifference by these crop of elites, is one of the major reason why the society continues to deteriorate. We continue to suffer today partly because those whose voices would have been heard are unwilling to offer it. At some level, it is simply an act of betrayal. They hide their voices in silence most times as an act of cowardice, being unwilling to entertain the mildest risk. In the end, we will reason them as been accomplice to those who benefit directly from the rot and decadence to which the society has been subjected.
This phenomenon itself connotes an inherent injustice in the dynamics of the society as we reward vices and punish virtues. We recoil at the idea of good works because it is seemingly of little reward. How much longer can we hold up in a nation so full of contradictions? Our proclamations and actions contrast each other. We are sliding through a valley of dishonor as we openly applaud contemptible behaviors in order to earn the favor of those who have the means. We embark on a voyage of shame and dry our dirty linen in the full glare of the world. We reduce our abode to a haven of wanton greed and edaciousness and suffocate whatever ray of goodness, spirit and genuine desire for the common good that sprouts within our walls. When the center can hold no further, a collapse will be our reward in which sanctity and serenity will give way to utter anarchy and chaos.
We have witnessed the capitulation of conscience in the face of unrelented oppression and injustice. The clenching of the skin to the bones no longer arouse compassion. Kindness flees. We sit unfeeling and stony, watching lives been smashed, wasted and washed away. We witness the corrosion of our collective humanity and look the other way. We now feel at home with unhindered tyranny and injustice as they eat up the honor of men. We have no innocence left. Our claim to civility becomes invalid as we neglect our duty to defend the sanctity of our collective humanity. If the dignity of the human life is but of little worth to us, how dare we then lay claim to being wholesome?
Human misery no longer elicit compassion because it has become an everyday norm. Cruelty against our humanity does no more than garner cheap reactions which are short lived. We are incapable of being shocked to action.
Beyond this is a cruel culture of individualism where each strive for the protection of his individual portion within the common lot. Curiously, we have failed to see that this is a self defeating notion, as no individual right or privilege or portion can long endure where the lot of the collective has been subverted. Striving for individual ends is therefore of little worth until the common good is guaranteed. Our chances of success is therefore hinged on the ability of individuals to suppress the relentless instincts of survival pulsating through their being.
More importantly however, we must come to understand that when we fail to actively oppose injustice, we conspicuously sanction its existence. As David Henry Thoreau beautifully expounded, the disobedience of unjust law is the just duty of all just men. We therefore have a moral obligation to resist oppression and injustice in whatever form. It is the negligence of this moral duty, especially by those who feel secure and at ease, that inadvertently authorizes the continuance of injustice and oppression.
The negligence of this moral duty comes with consequences, some of which we have already experienced, even though we have not yet connected all the nodes. We have seen moral decadence spinning at alarming rate and the electrifying corrosion of our intrinsic values. We are fast approaching a crescendo where we feel no constraints either by subjection to our common laws or by the moral force of our shared values. Most unfortunate is the fact that we are blinded to the possible consequences of reaching such a crescendo in a manner such as ours.
We sit on a keg of gun powder, deceived by the illusion of security and the opulence of uncertain riches. We are not mindful that when the last violence erupts, neither the poor nor the rich, neither the weak nor the powerful, neither the obscure nor the popular will be spared. If we indeed arrive at this junction, the unfortunate incidences of the past will be of no worth in comparison with the calamity that awaits us. It’s therefore imperative that we are not oblivious to the choices that lay before us today, and even more so, of the consequences of those choices.
May we know sooner than later that indifference at injustice precede anarchy and the silence and inaction of the just foster utter chaos. May we know the urgency of our time. May we know sooner that in perilous times, silence is as much repugnant as the stench of oppression.
While time surely thicks away slowly, we glide through each day, nearer to that day, when the scale of the disillusion of security will vibrate off in a forceful shedding triggered by the trump of the crusader, blasting from the mountain tops, on a determined note, summoning the beleaguered soul to the battle field in a furious surging against the foes that entrenched their drudgery and the benefactors of ease during the long days of turmoil.
We do still indeed have a faint chance of redemption. If we prepare ourselves to act now, we can cause a new rose of peace and progress to blossom and spread its fragrance to every heart. We can reshape our destiny and veer back to the path we have for long deserted. We can recline to the dreams of our forebears and forge the vision of a scintillating future garnished with the flavors of tranquility, justice and abundance. A new life is possible at the cost of our involvement.
Beyond our dismal realities, I am persuaded beyond doubt that if those who are seemingly at ease and secure will get concerned as though they were the very victim of oppression and injustice, and will offer their voice, and stand together with those at obvious pain, we will begin to experience change that will set the foundation of a new future.