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Sunday, July 21, 2024

In a world of the blind, the one-eyed man is a King

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With Aisha Jallow

For various reasons, I have struggled getting back my inspiration. The last months have been stressfull, but finally I am enjoying my vacation. It always takes at least one week to recover from the ending of a school year. This year it has been more hectic than ever, but thanks to the grace of God, I have managed to go through it all and I am un-harmed. Stress is harmfull for both body and mind, but with time I have learned to be kind to myself. I was always the one who forced myself to do more, be more, know more, help more. With time, I have learned to enjoy doing a bit more, being more aware of myself, learn more and to help myself to help others.

What does all of this have to do with my headline? I will tell you. When I grew up, I was always told what to do, how to be, what to think and to never question any of this. As being the rebel of the family, I was often in trouble. You might think that it was my own fault, that if I only had been obedient I would not have been in trouble. You see; there is a difference between being obedient and being respectful. Obedience is based on fear, fear of the consequences, but respectfullness is based on love. If there is love and understanding in a family, there is no fear because there is nothing to be afraid of.

I promised myself, as a young girl, that I would never raise my future children as I was raised. I would never make them fear me, because I was afraid of my mother until I was 50! When I look back at my life, I can see how this fear has harmed my soul and my self-esteem. The rebel in me never allowed anyone to hold me down, but the beating from getting free was severe. The way we speak to our children and our spouses can be very harmfull. Children don’t want anything else but being loved. It is just as easy as that. It can also be just as hard as that, because all of you, who are parents, know that your kids know exactly which buttons to push to trigger your irritation.

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Our world famous author, Astrid Lindgren, told a story about her childhood. Her little brother had done something bad, so his mother decided to punish him. She told him to go to the woods to get a tree branch she could use to hit him. It took a while for the boy to come back, but when he finally returned he didn’t have a branch in his hand. The boy told his mother that he couldn’t find a suitable tree branch, so he picked a stone instead. ”You can throw the stone on me instead”, the boy told his mother. The mother looked at the stone and on the face of her devastated son and felt ashamed. She was so much older than her son, so she ought to be more sensible than to harm him in any way. After that day this mother never gave her children a beating again.

The mother in this story was raised the same way my own mother was raised. They were taught that little children must be obedient, no matter the cost. They didn’t know that the cost was too high and that the children were harmed for the rest of their lives. Corporal punishment is still allowed in so many parts of the world. Parents are taught that this is the best and the only way to raise your kids. Kids who are raised with fear learn to lie, to save their skin. A society full of grown-ups, who once were kids with sore backsides, is a society where everyone lies to save their skin. You expect your kids to obey, you beat them and humiliate them without a thought of the future consequences.

It is not easy to understand the consequences of you only have learned to act in one way, without a thought. In a world of the blind, the one-eyed man is a King. This saying can be interpreted in different ways, but right now my interpretation is that if you are unable to see, you follow the one who at least has some insight. This insight can be wrong, but how can you know? You can’t see, so you have to rely on someone else and trust that this person knows what he is talking about. To see something, in this case, is not seeing with one’s eyes, but with one’s soul. If something feels very wrong, then trust your instinct and question that.

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When I was doing some research for this essay, I had collected a lot of information about drugs and drug dealing. I know this is a huge problem in The Gambia, but the more I thought of it, I was unable to gather my thoughts around the case. Instead I began to think about the reasons for why people use drugs or other things that is making them forgetting their worries, pain and fear for a while. Growing up in a society where you are supposed to be your best, but you deserve the worst is harming our children. Small kids don’t understand that there is no future for them. They play and have fun, as they should, but the reality comes and bites their behinds when they grow up and understand more.

Through social media, the kids see that there is something else outside this world of dust, broken tiles and corruption. They see people who are well dressed, living in homes filled with nice furniture. They see rap artists covered with cool outfits and bling-bling around their necks.

Our young ones see a world they believe is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Some of our youngsters are desperate enough to flee the back-way in their aim to find a better world. They are so blinded by the images on social media so they believe the ones who persuade them that the only option they have is to flee the back-way.

As our kids are taught to obey, and never allowed to think independently, they don’t question those who assures them that there are no risks crossing the Mediterranean Sea by boat.

Have you begun to understand the saying a bit now, and also understand that blind obedience is dangerous? We must allow our kids to be free, both in body and in mind. Being free doesn’t automatically mean that we are allowing them to become anarchists. No, when we raise our children to become respectfull members of the family, they will become that in the society too.

In a world of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Can you see that now?

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