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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Are we fighting our enemies, or have they become our allies?

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With Aicha

This is how I finished my article some weeks ago.
I have been thinking a lot about how to continue because I felt that I wasn’t ready to leave this topic. Do you remember I told you about the philosopher and theologian Abu Hamid Ghazali, from Persia, who lived 1058 to 1111 AC?
The following is one of the wise things he has said, and I based my last article on it: “Declare your jihad on thirteen enemies you cannot see – egoism, arrogance, conceit, selfishness, greed, lust, intolerance, anger, lying, cheating, gossiping and slandering. If you can master and destroy them, then you will be ready to fight the enemy you can see.”

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People of all times have always the old times were better. It was better when I was young… or when my parents were young. Young people of today don’t know how to behave… in the old times, the good old days, people knew how to show respect to each other…”
Hmmm, does it sound familiar?
Are we speaking about the true facts or have we forgotten how things actually were?
We must remember that life is a process, life is not static so we and our society change with time.
When I read the daily flow on Facebook I am amazed, or should I instead say, ashamed?
I don’t feel ashamed for my own sake, I really try to be as polite and respectful as possible when I am sharing my opinions there, but I wonder what is wrong with some people?
Haven’t they got any home training at all?
Sometimes I need to tell someone that his mother needs to wash his mouth with soap. Why is it mostly guys who spew their anger, their prejudice, and use very foul language? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging girls to write like that too.

No, it seems like the girls are a bit wiser when it comes to spreading dirt.
The guys, of all ages, don’t seem to understand that what is spread on the Internet remains there forever.
Employers in Europe have began to check the social media flow of the people they are wanting to employ. This can happen in The Gambia too, so be a bit cautious with what you share with others.
It is not only a matter of bad spelling and grammar, it is also about cursing, using sloppy language and the message you spread.

Now when I get a friend request on Facebook I check out that person first.
I look for common friends, common values and interests. If the person only shares new profile photos of her or himself I am not interested because it is obvious that this person is mainly interested in her or himself.
So-called sexy photos turn me off immediately; pouting lips or flexing muscles are the worst.
I look for the inner qualities of a person and if I see that the one who has contacted me seems to share my values I accept the request.
I would like to stop for a while at each of the thirteen enemies the philosopher mentioned, and I will begin with two of them which I feel are similar.
These two are egoism and selfishness.

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Is there a difference between those two and in that case, what is the difference?
The word ego comes from the ancient language, Latin, and means “I”.
Egoism is an ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality.
Selfishness means that you only care about what is good for you.
I can give you an example to try to explain the difference between an egoistic person and a selfish person.
The egoistic person can share as long as s/he gets more than anyone else.
The selfish person can’t share because s/he wants it all.

Neither of them are very nice people to interact with, but at least there is hope that the egoistic one can change for the better. These two lead us to the next two: greed and cheating. When you think of a greedy person you will automatically assume that s/he is cheating.
There is no chance to get the full pot every time without cheating, no one can be that lucky. A greedy person is selfish, it is about all for her or him and nothing for others. What is the opposite of a greedy person? The answer is a generous, kindhearted person who feels solidarity with his/her fellow human beings.
A selfish person is always prepared to cheat others, it is normal for this kind of people. They feel that others deserve to be cheated on because they are so stupid. Greed is possible when we give it the possibilities, as the saying goes: “The opportunity makes the thief.”

I follow Gambian news every day and I also follow the political debate and actions as much as possible. It saddens me, and I know so many others too, to see that greed and cheating seem to be the keywords. They are not outspoken, of course, but the promised transparency Gambians were longing for, is nowhere to be seen.
Where is the solidarity? Where is the focus on the common good?
Does power automatically transform people from committed and passionate people, with a will to do something for the country, to selfish people with themselves as the main focus?
Thank God we don’t have a dictator in The Gambia anymore, but it is not hard to see the sources of corruption. The solidarity is among those who have some kind of power and who can gain from it.
It is not hard to understand why people have problems trusting politicians and others. The words and the promises are beautiful but there is no substance behind them. The people of The Gambia have the right to feel well taken care of. Too many have suffered for too many years. Too many are unemployed, can hardly afford one meal per day, struggle to make ends meet. Too many try to live on extremely low income; they are glad if they have shoes on their feet and then to hear that some anonymous giver has handed over a large number of cars to the government is too much to handle.

So why is no one willing to speak out about the vehicles? Because they are protecting each other and no one wants to lose a fancy car. The benefits taste too good and if we only close our eyes hard enough we don’t see the poor guys walking in the dust with holes in their sandals. Greed is one of the deadly sins according to the Catholics. I’m sure the Holy Qur’an has one or two things to say about that too.

It seems that there is no will at all to speak openly about anonymous donations. Is it because those who have got the gifts don’t want to lie so they just avoid speaking about it and hope that people will forget and stop asking? But is not hiding the truth one form of lying? Food for thought. We are expecting those on the top to be role models, and rightfully so, but it seems like the wheel of corruption never stops spinning. Are we trying to make it stop or are we giving it a small and discrete spin with the hope that some of the fortune will spill over to us? Well, as long as people can’t make an honest living, the wheel will keep on and on. There are so few opportunities to get some extra cash, so of course people try to take every opportunity. It is an instinct, a matter of survival, but it is 2018 now and people shouldn’t be forced to live like that anymore. We know that everyone is trying to fool everyone, so who are we fooling? No one!
Gossiping and slandering: In this case I should only need to use two words – social media. Oh, how easy it is to spew out hate, anger, envy and lies and hide yourself behind anonymity. You create an account with a fake name and a fake photo and then you begin. It might take a while for some people to understand the problem with that behaviour: it is like throwing s*** in front of a fan – it hits you back.

People have at all times been speaking about each other; that is a part of our socialising process, but we need to be aware of what we say. What has been said can never be taken back, what is written on Internet will stay there forever.
Arrogance, conceit and lust: These three words are both connected and solitary, depending on how you choose to interpret them. I will begin connecting them by giving you the following scenario:
A young and very beautiful woman who has always got a lot of attention for her looks got so many comments of her beauty so she began to shift focus from things that earlier on were important to her to the way she looks and appears to people. Lust comes in to the picture by the boys and men who look at all this beauty. They comment on it and try to come near her, the men want her and she wants what they can give her. They feel lust for different things, a lust that can lead you into actions you hadn’t anticipated. A lust that can lead you astray.

A rose is beautiful and has a wonderful scent, but when it has been in too many hands it gets soiled and thrown away.
Intolerance and anger: Tribalism still shows its ugly face! For what purpose? Is it leading to anything good? The Gambia has around 2 million citizens and the country is one of the smallest in Africa. You are all mixed, no family is purely Fula or Mandinka or something else and that is what is giving you strength. You are like a small EU; you live together in a great mix and because of this mix, where you depend on each other, you don’t want to fight or kill each other. If you should fight – who would be your enemy? If you are a Fula you can’t fight against the Mandinka because your mum is Mandinka. Should you kill her family? That would be like wanting to kill your own mother and who wants to do that? You would instead do what you could to save your aunts and uncles and cousins and so on. You need each one! You need to keep together, stay strong together against the outside world. If you are occupied with arguing with each other the wolves will sneak in and strike you when you are vulnerable. Belonging to a certain tribe is giving you the foundation for your life but you need to build your life on the top of that foundation.

What gives me hope for the future of The Gambia is to see youth movements, the passion, the commitment and the drive to do something good for the country no matter your tribe. My sweet little sister Lala Touray won an anti-corruption contest. She is officially crowned as Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity’s 2018 Anti-Corruption Champion. This sweet young woman, only 20 years old, is a role model for all of us. Let us leave our old and dusty enemies behind and focus on the new and fresh future. Let us follow the examples of Lala Touray and her friends instead.

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