Badmus: Fear and loathing at lent
THE philosophy of many of our politicians at this election period is rather straightforward : repeat the ‘big lie’ sufficiently often until it assumes the posture of ‘truth’ and it sticks. The dangerous undercurrent of this sort of game was not lost on their role model – Goebbels. The intention was to redefine the very basis of society itself in a way in which democracy is eventually undermined and then truncated. In the case of Goebbels, the policy subordinated an entire society to the interest of a political party, unleashed a war, and the world would never be the same again. It is very instructive.
For a democracy, the convergence of these tactics is fraught with great dangers.
We all know that electoral contests are by their very nature divisive. Nevertheless, an election should not be positioned in such a way as to destroy the very basis of democracy as well as by cynical manipulation whose end result will be to tear apart the fabric of society.
Elections ought to be conducted within the context of a pre-existing national democratic arrangement.
In the true manner of the template set by Goebbels, all the fault lines are being ruthlessly exploited. Ethnicity, religion, regional differences, no holds are barred and there is obviously no intention to take prisoners. For a democracy though there is, has to be, a critical issue. This is, what happens after the elections?
Much of the big lie on offer is not just offensive to the sensibilities, it is meant to create a permanent rupture undermining the very sustainability of the democratic ethos and of constitutionalism. In this way the republic is imperilled.
For those like the author who are Christians, the hate speeches coming during lent provide food for thought. The hate maestros do not just resemble Goebbels, which is bad enough, they also bear a sickening resemblance to the ultimate bogeyman Pontius Pilate.
Through the ages, every Sunday school pupil has been taught to regard Pilate as a ‘bad man.’ Pilate was in actual fact a ‘chancer’, his eyes firmly fixed on self-preservation. His successors today demonstrate the same trait. Those who use hate speeches and divisive politics based on exploiting divisions, based on religion and tribe follow in the footsteps of Pontius Pilate. They have completely abdicated their responsibility to any concept or form of society especially one that is based on Christian principles. This is dangerous, for as Bob Marley said ‘when the rain falls it won’t fall on one man’s house.’
It is difficult to reconcile this mindset with any interpretation of Christianity. It is precisely this abdication of any sense of the ridiculous that has led us into our present predicament in the first place.
Now that we are in lent might we ask: in all of this, what is the light that surprises the Christian as he prays?
It cannot be about enveloping the polity in the politics of hate. That is not within the context, meaning as well as the interpretation of this seminal season.
The light that should guide the Christian at this time is clearly foretold by St Francis of Assisi. The words of St. Francis were recollected by Mrs. Margret Thatcher on her first day in office as Prime Minister.
‘Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.’
It is obvious that those jumping from pulpit to pulpit while at the same time promoting hate have never really thought about the import of St. Francis’ prayer. Quite honestly they should.
• Badmus wrote from Osogbo