Feature Article of Thursday, 13 December 2012
Columnist: Marcel, Gideon
"I'm not afraid to take a stand" - Eminem (Recovery Album, 2010)
Within the last three days, I have switched off everything environmental activism, just so I could take a journey to the polling shrine to outdoor my thumbprint. However colloquial it may sound with a smirk of pun, explains how we have ritualized the electoral process. So I didn’t miss it, else I wait for another four (4) years to ink my thumb in a make-shift brown paper box full of some men am not supposed to trust.
I don’t support any political party because I have always believed that within our current partisan political system, no single political party in power can deliver a transformational change. People strongly disagree, I accept their views. But because I do vote anyway, this belief and experience is an occasional nightmare. Maybe I don’t know what I want as it is with many people, but at least I do know very well that I want something different, a set of different values, or at least a chance at different values.
It was amazing the level of passion and wild-eyed sentiments that characterized the voting exercise within the last few days. Citizens were adrenalized both for the right and wrong reasons. Tempers flared and insults were traded as emotions took wings to fly against logical gravity. I shudder to envision the post election electorate-interaction with the same political system. Historically, our post election engagement zaps the hoopla for all the puff, propaganda and hysteria of the election itself, no matter how you slice it to make meaning to an unassuming greenhorn. After voting, we retreat to our most comfortable la-la land with drowsy eyes.
When activists resurrect issues of political accountability, transparency and sustainability, we speak to the issues with a voice in italics, with sly gestures matching a face muscled by question and quotation marks. Our democracy keeps on growing, but fails woefully to develop. It is in perfect equilibrium with a hypothetical photoshop display of a cow walking in a china shop in confusion o’clock. Politicians continue to damp hot water on us, we pat with cold water and life goes on.
We haven’t received accountability because we haven’t asked for it loudly and ‘forcefully’ enough. The fact is that we all enjoy some rights and privileges today because some people challenged the prevailing status quo and argued that life can be lived differently. Unfortunately, leadership crisis amongst our politicians and educational crisis amongst literates and illiterates alike have teamed up to produce and direct a 3D box office that questions our own commitment to the change we all profess we need. So the insults, tribal sentiments, foul mouth and baloney language have become part of our democracy. Oh we accept it is.
Of course, we can’t complain, and we shouldn’t. The fact of the matter is that the ‘marginalization of dissenting narratives and the narrowing of the scope of political imagination couldn’t have happened without our silent consent’. That said, corruption is not the cause of our poverty, it is just a symptom of it. The cause is not even the apathy in the courtroom receiving a trial on this paper. The real cause is lethargy. Too many of us really do care, but we don’t care enough, as caring is only shown in action.
We will continue to talk about transparency, we will preach accountability and channel through sustainability, no matter how small our audience might be. We don’t mind if activists are only 1%, what we care about is that small fraction making our voice heard consistently. “Psychologists have found that people absorb information selectively, picking and choosing those facts that fit into their already-established worldviews. Yet psychologists have also found that familiarity breeds fondness: Repeated exposure to a new idea leads to progressively lower fear and avoidance and even, eventually, sometimes, to acceptance”.
So history is on our side, transformational change will eventually come, then we can smile like a Cheshire Cat. Say Amen to that!
Gideon Marcel (Community Organizer, Writer & Poet)