Letters: Does God choose our leaders? – A rejoinder to Toney F Mendy

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Dear editor,

I would like to respond to Mr Mendy’s article, published in The Standard newspaper on Thursday May 23rd 2019, entitled “God’s Voter’s Card”. Comrade, I hope you appreciate that this issue is not only culturally sensitive but also intellectually complex. To debate it requires coherent wisdom and maturity.

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In my opinion, the intention of your article was to dismiss the belief that God exists. But since your main objective was to ridicule the widely held belief that it is God who chooses our leaders, be they religious or political, I shall attempt to debate only this matter below.
From times of antiquity, faithful people from all backgrounds are of the view that Almighty God created the world and its inhabitants for a divine purpose known only to Him. During the process of creation, He favoured the human race as the superior beings. In addition to that, He ordained certain individuals to become leaders through divine selection. Consequently, the idea of destiny (the divine right of kings) was conceived many centuries ago: leaders are chosen through this divine selection, in stark contrast to the Marxist school of thought, which believes otherwise.

Despite this, common sense dictates that divine intervention in human affairs does not automatically diminish the power of human free will. Rather it nurtures human free will, and strengthens our ability to flourish socially and become productive. As a result of divine intervention and rational thinking, human consciousness was able to invent concepts like democracy and the social contract. But occasionally due to our muscular ego, which often trumps logic, we can have a tendency to exaggerate our ability. We think we are really at the head of the pack and God’s influence in the political process is entirely absent. To reach such a conclusion is actually ridiculous.

Examples are many, but for now the following will suffice. The current Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, was never a serious contender to replace his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull. However, during a power struggle in Australian politics, at the last minute Morrison threw his hat into the ring and against all odds, he won the leadership race. Again, miraculously, a few months later he won the general election despite a firm prediction in the polls that he was to be easily defeated by the Australian Labour Party. Without predestiny, such a notable achievement wouldn’t have been possible.

Of course, I recognise that modesty is important in all human matters, which makes it compulsory for us to nurture our young democracy properly in order to create a better Gambia for all. However, the political education you suggested ought to include taking care of our African values in accordance with our religious convictions. First and foremost, what we have to understand is that each and every component of our fragile republic is the human fabric which belongs to conservative families. In all of our affairs, God is always present, and rejecting that entirely is not helpful in fostering a spirit of social cohesion.

Recently I noticed that certain people in our midst are claiming that our religious conviction and faith in God causes poverty and misfortune. I deem such a narrative absurd and nonsensical. A great number of people living in the United States, Canada, and Australia, for example, are devout Muslims and Christians, yet every aspect of their lives is ‘milk and honey’ compared to ours, with countless accomplishments. And let me not mention the achievement of GCC countries!
Though our potentials are far greater than you can imagine, our troubles are also too many; laziness, jealousy, envy, and external interference in our social, political and economical matters top the list. We should begin by addressing those issues: our religious conviction is never a hindrance to meaningful progress on these matters. I see no evidence which could convince me that godless societies are much more prosperous than their contemporaries. For many centuries now, the concept of God is significantly present in our day-to-day life, and we speak of Him in our mother tongue with love and sincerity.
It will take much more than a mere newspaper article to erase that from our lips.
One Gambia, one people.

 

Yaya Sillah

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