This self-righteous journey into the mind of the troubled ones was triggered by an Al Jazeera special on the situation in Libya that I saw recently. It got me thinking about a lot of things, about the present goings-on in Libya, Syria, Ivory Coast, Japan, US and…in Nigeria. I realised how insensitive and selfish I had been through it all – the news headlines, gory images and the pure horror staring at me in every direction. I have been guilty of attempting to reduce all these to simple discourse, slight curiosity that gives way to little or no sympathy.
Now, as I sink in my guilt, everything has taken a bolder picture before me; the horror is in my face now and I can’t look away. In that Al Jazeera report, I saw private citizens, who probably had never had a history of violence their whole lives, walking into grenades and firefights, daring change with life and limb. It seemed that they had come to understand something that had eluded them all this while, something a lot of us do not still understand. I tried to imagine the courage it took to stand in their shoes and stare down the muzzle of a gun and cry freedom! Particularly, there was this picture of a man on a Gurney whose leg was visibly bloodied and useless, but somehow still found the strength to raise his hands in the air chanting away ecstatically. The passion I saw was raw and the conviction, riveting.
It does not matter that their lives are being wasted daily, what matters is that they are not going to quit till they are free of their burden – an oppressive government in this case. Then there are thousands of displaced people; house-owners turned refugees. Not just in Libya, but in all those other places, even here in Nigeria. That scared me beyond words. The terror that nature has caused and the terror of man against man has created a hell around us that we can choose not to see. That we can choose not to see it is horrific in itself. Thousands in Japan, hundreds in the US, religious fanaticism couched in the equally unsavoury ball of political unrest right in our nation, and I wake up in the morning with the first thing on my mind football or women. Do I have the right to ignore the troubled ones around me? Would it matter to them that someone unaffected is concerned? I most certainly take the affirmative on the latter.
The question of “what can we do?” is always going to come up. For starters, we can be concerned and really think of what all these people are going through. They might be as near as Bauchi or Kaduna here or as far as Japan or Syria, but human pain and desperation is the same everywhere. By writing this, I am showing concern, even if I barely have the means to support myself not to talk of launching an aid program. People are suffering and dying everywhere and I cannot pretend like it’s not happening. Any of the corpers in Nigeria could so easily have been me. I once told somebody that I thought a wish for world peace was not only shallow but idiotic, but I’d wish so much for world peace now, with the risk of being a shallow idiot. In the least, one can ask for things to be better, because it is hell around us.