Sunday, November 20, 2016


Empathy is a great quality to possess. The ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is empathy that allows us to put ourselves in the shoes of others. Empathy allows men to understand the woes of women, and vice versa; it allows whites to understand the woes of black; it allows people who belong to a gender binary understand the woes of non binary people. However, empathy can be a problem. Too much understanding stands in the way of useful discrimination or necessary violence. Because let’s face it, discrimination and violence are important in keeping undesirable people away from us. Imagine a world where everyone had the same rights, where everyone had the right to believe whatever they wanted to believe, where everyone had freedom of worship, where every gender, binary or non binary had the same access to healthcare, sexual and reproductive rights. Wouldn't that be too much? Wouldn't life be boring without the hierarchies and discrimination that put some human beings above others, for order and structure? 

Think of minorities for example. Now as a person who belongs to a majority religion, you get to define what blasphemy is. But the great part is that you also get to blaspheme freely against minorities. For example, as a believer or a monotheist, you can blaspheme against polytheists, calling their gods “pagan” or disgusting or abominable. You are allowed to call them infidels and unbelievers because belief is defined by you. Hence those who do not agree with you are the unbelievers. It doesn't matter that from their standpoint you also are some sort of unbeliever and infidel. You are allowed to destroy their shrines to show the dominance and power of your superior deity. You are allowed to say that they are going to hell. However, being minorities they should never be allowed those same rights. Because you know how minorities are, you give them a Gala and then they want La Casera. Your criticism of their religion is the truth. Their criticism of your religion is blasphemy and must never be condoned. They must be attacked for believing strange things. So, what has all of this got to do with looking away and not feeling guilty? I just noticed that some people were beginning to feel uncomfortable with the rampant attack on Shiites led by Kaduna State. You really shouldn't feel guilty. If the governor needs to use state resources to inflict violence on them and some of them die, this is how to not feel guilty: think of all the roads that get blocked (don’t think of the roads your own religion blocks, it ruins the fun), think of all the beliefs they believe which you do not like, think of the all black that they wear in the heat, think of how much they must sweat in those clothes, and then find something else to do, like weed the grass in your backyard. 

Now at birth we are all assigned a gender. As soon as the doctor or midwife pulls us out and sees our genitalia, they declare: It’s a boy or It’s a girl. This is all that should matter throughout your life. If you have a child you must force all the rules we have made for the genders on your children. Do not allow your boys play with girls toys or with make up because, well just because. And if god forbid a child grows up preferring things different from what society has decreed, then you must feel disturbed even if this has absolutely nothing to do with you. Because without you, the world will be destroyed. So, if people attack a person who was assigned male, for acting like a female, you must look away and not feel guilty (that is if you yourself don't feel strong enough to join in the attack). Ask yourself: why is this man wearing female perfume? Why is this woman wearing male clothes? Why is he wearing a headscarf? Why does he want to ruin my life and that of my children by wearing what he likes? When you think like this, even if such a man or woman gets lynched, you will not feel too bad about it. At worst your will feel bad about that individual’s poor parents. 

When a person is being lynched by a mob, it is generally good to look away. To kill any guilt that may result from you just looking on as a fellow human being is being killed ask any of the following guilt-dissolving questions: What did he do? Why did he do it? What tribe is he? What religion is he?
Asking these questions will help you put it all in perspective. If they tell you the person stole a purse, it is nice to think, see ba, lynching is bad, but oh if only he was not a thief, he would not have been killed or oh, if he wasn't a criminal they would not have tortured him and set his squirming body on fire. These thoughts solve any issues about the mob’s culpability in murder. Just make sure to begin any justification with the fact that you do not support lynching, but. 

The word “but” is very important. In rape, or mob lynching or online attacks on minorities you can make sense of it by first denying that you support the said action followed by but. But allows you to get the PC obstacle out of the way while saying what you really mean. If a woman you don't like was raped, say an annoying woman who always likes to show her body, you get the political correctness out of the way by saying, no woman should be raped, but it is important to get all the facts of the matter. You see what I did there? Or if an unarmed person was hacked and burned to death or extrajudicially murdered by the Nigerian army or police, you can begin by saying, murder is bad, but we need to know the other side of the story. Or something like, killing civilians is not the best, but we need to find out what provoked the soldiers or police. You will never have to feel guilty again. 

It is good to feel empathy. But it is even better not to waste empathy on the wrong people so that we can have enough empathy for all the right people: our family members, members of our religious sect, members of our ethnic group, people who support our political party, people we are sleeping with, and people we generally like. 


  1. Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Hmmmm.

  2. El-Jo! Your satire, somehow, always evokes for me the telling words in 'A Modest Proposal'... Well done sir.

  3. How do you stand against a mob? I fear that they will lynch you both together. It's like why are you defending a thief if you're not a thief? A Lot of us just feel helpless, and feel like until you are ready to literally die for a cause, don't step out...


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