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Opinions of Sunday, 21 January 2018

Columnist: Samuel Adjei Sarfo

Our conduct does not reflect sufficient wisdom

Plato defined wisdom as knowing the consequence of one’s actions; but he did not aver that refraining from evil actions is a complement to wisdom. I do; because if humankind were to benefit from the supervening values of wisdom, not only are we to have knowledge of the consequences of our actions but we will also do well to refrain from evil actions. To know the consequences of our actions and refraining from all evil actions then is the full complement of wisdom which our people must pursue.

But you can assess where we stand as a people on the scale of wisdom if we listen carefully to our national dialogue. Is this dialogue going to lead to our national progress or its retrogression? There have been instances where what someone says is direly predicated upon one’s ethnic origin. In such a dialogue, one is merely pushing an agenda to demonize others or make them feel like criminals or deviants within the society.

What is the consequence of such a strident dialogue? To foster hatred, alienate others and divide the country in order to make it a theater for war and rumors of war. The person caught in this kind of ethnocentric chatter has not well considered the beauty of unity and love for humanity. Neither has that person considered the benefit to himself or his party in projecting a personality of diversity and acceptance. Such a person is therefore not wise.

Then also is that person following those prophets who are merely existing for their profits. Now remember that there is not going to be prosperity for anybody who crosses his or her fingers, expecting some god to throw down manna from heaven to sustain their lives. It stands to reason that mere cries to god and simple acts of supplication or prayers will not bring any prosperity to anybody.

By the same token, those who shower prophecies on us while we are making no effort to change our circumstances will speak those prophecies in vain since it is already established that our prosperity and freedom will not appear suddenly from the skies. We will have to work for every one of them. Thus if we go about giving our money to those prophets in order to enhance their profits, we labor in vain and enrich others and make ourselves poor. The consequences of giving our resources to those con men masquerading as the men of god is to impoverish ourselves and enriching them. And if we don’t know this fact, then we are not invested with sufficient wisdom.

We should also be aware of our superstitious beliefs which keep us in bondage and impinge on our happiness. It is altogether dumb to think of trees and stones and rivers as having the power to control our destinies. If we look at the matter carefully, the only way to become subordinate to these natural things is to keep it in your mind that they can control your destiny. Once you lose the confidence in yourself by relying on things in your environment, you are going to be psychologically subservient to them all, and they will indeed control your life.

We must therefore constantly question our environments and interrogate whatever belief we have about them. And if we do, we will master these environments and keep them fresh and clean. We will not ascribe any acts of god to their imminent deterioration while we watch others pillage them mercilessly for minerals and precious stones without any thought for their survival. Again, if we find things in the environment to worship as gods, we will leave the environment to cater for itself. This is how we neglect to stop the pillaging of the environment in search of short term profits. Knowing the consequences of our actions in the environment and taking the requisite actions to clean it up and protect it….that is the kind of wisdom that will bring progress to us.

We are also a nation of strict culture and traditions. But these could also signal foolishness unless we are asking questions as to what all these lead us. If our culture and traditions have outlived their purposes in our modern world, there will not be any need to stick to them. Remember the test of wisdom is the consequences of our actions. If those actions are harmful and meaningless, we should not be afraid to discard them. If all we are doing is protecting them in the name of our culture and traditions, then we should understand that we are fostering our stagnating and impeding our progress.

Those nations that have found themselves far ahead of us have developed ways to wean themselves off their so-called culture and traditions, and they are looking for those actions and conduct that bring creativity and innovations. Our insistence on some of our culture and traditions without questioning their importance is therefore a sign that we lack the kind of intellectual and logical endowments that will make for our progress and development.

But of all the foregoing, the most obvious factor for our lack of progress is certainly our over-reliance upon our religious faith as a means to all the solutions to our problems. Religion substitutes reasoning with faith and cuts off rationality as a sine qua non of our civilization. Religion broaches no questions; but when you take the ability to question from any person, you turn him into an automaton and controls all his faculties. But religion is altogether morbid in the sense that it asserts the supervening albeit archaic wisdom of ancient people and ask modern people to accept this implied wisdom without adding to it or detracting from it.

It is the cause of the savagery of the medieval times and the lack of imagination foisted upon the modern world. But the world is not at its heights by dint of any religion. If anything at all, the world’s civilization has occurred in spite of religion. Remember that wisdom is about questioning the consequences of our actions and refraining from that which will be harmful to us. If we take out the ability to ask questions, all of us become mummified idiots, going along with whatever those religious goons tell us.

That is how religion makes people backward. The more religion that exists in any part of the world, the more backward it is in terms of its progress and development. So civilization has never hinged on race but on creed. It so happens that we in Africa may not have developed in conjunction with others elsewhere because while those others have placed less emphases on religion, we have rather expanded its influence on our lives. That is why we are still struggling to grow. The shackles on our minds imposed by religion will keep us from thinking for ages to come unless we wake up and ask why.

And in asking why, we can overturn our religion into the art of constant questioning and thereby develop a faith in ourselves and our capacity to solve our own problems. If we continue to indulge in our hope that a god above will come to solve our problems for us, we will be left far behind as others take the bold steps to soar in all spheres of human endeavor

The solutions to our problems are within ourselves. They consist solely in the choices we make in eschewing ethnocentrism, obviating empty prophecy, overcoming superstition, ridding ourselves of ossified cultural and traditional practice and, expunging religious faith. For if we sit down to reflect objectively on the consequences of these enumerated factors, we will come to terms with how little they have helped in conferring progress and prosperity upon us. And if we cut them off from our lives, we will begin to enjoy the true fruits of wisdom and see clearly our way forward.