In Africa and particularly in this colonial space they told us should be called Gambia, if you are a member of any particular social media group, chances are you’ve been told not to discuss politics and or religion. Others also include tribe as another no-go area. We have groups that are solely dedicated to promoting particular religious ideals, groups formed specifically for political parties and groups formed to focus on the welfare of certain tribes.
Chances are, if you are not a member of a political party or an adherent of a certain religious faith, you’ll not be welcomed on social media platforms dedicated to that political party or religion. And that’s fair enough if you ask me. But if the social media platform is established to, for instance, advance the welfare of a high school, then the rule is that politics, religion, and or tribal comments are disallowed. The abiding consensus is that politics and religion are too divisive and if allowed on any platform, they slowly corrode and defeat the purpose for which the platform was established! Some claim that because not everyone shares the same political party or religious faith, bringing up politics or religion will destroy our associations. But is it religion and politics that we fear so much or is it our own intolerance to dissenting voices that we are so afraid of?
If you really think about it, I doubt we disallow political or religious matters on our group platforms in order to accommodate those who do not subscribe to our religious or political persuasions. I think we do so because we are simply intolerant. We are actually afraid of dissenting voices on our faith and politics. For what’s it’s worth, many of us are Muslims only because we were born in Muslim homes. It’s not as if we studied Islam deeply to arrive at our decision to be a Muslim. And because we are undereducated about Islam, we often cannot defend it with knowledge and so we choose intolerance and anger since those are far easier to express than knowledge. I can say the same about Christians and other religions too.
Many of us also don’t like it when others do not share our political opinion even though many among us who claim to be a member of this or that party can hardly tell you what differentiates our political party from any other party. We only know that our party color is different from the other party and that’s the extent of our knowledge. And so when someone says anything unpalatable about our party or party leader, because we have no knowledge of party policies to be able to coherently debate them, we resort to intolerance and anger or ad hominem attacks.
Here is the bitter truth: We are not as accommodating as we claim to be. We are not as tolerant as we claim to be. Couple our intolerance with our inflated egos and you’ll understand what obtains today. Try expressing your religious faith in any group where your faith is not the majority and you will see what I mean. Instead of trying to win you over, many will condemn you to hellfire. That’s because besides knowing that they’re going to heaven by virtue of their religious dictates, they don’t even know how to convince someone else about their religion. Like many, they probably only practice that religion because they were born into it, not because they took time to learn and accept it.
I think we insist on disallowing tribal, religious and political comments because we are simply intolerant of other religious beliefs, miseducated on tribal constructs, and mindlessly attached to certain political leaders. We prefer the warmth of our echo chambers and the comfort within the hugboxes we build.
As humans, we are tribal creatures and we all gravitate towards those we share some commonalities with. Tolerance therefore is our ability to accommodate those we do not share certain commonalities with. Let me also add that oftentimes, these commonalities are social constructs that are actually used as tools of oppression against us. And the more mindless people you have as tools of oppression, the more intolerance you’ll see.
Here’s the thing, when we dwell on our constructed differences, we otherize those that are not part of the circle we build around ourselves. It becomes us against them. We see those outside our circle as opponents or enemies. At the advanced stage of this us against them mindset, we dehumanize others and once we do that, we are capable of doing anything to them! And yes, that includes killing them, raping them and burning their homes! It’s easy to that because we don’t see them as human beings or we think they are going to hell anyway!