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Of power and our intrinsic failings

28 Feb 2021 at 08:56hrs | Views
Like so many of you, I too could never quite wrap it around my head. Just how does arguably the world's most developed nation connive to vote into the most important leadership position an unabashed bigot, a dimwit, a racist and an abusive, self-serving nicompoop with no shame to publicly brandish his celebrated idiocy? Just how? For a while, my mind settled with those that advanced the protest vote theory - that racist America had been shocked livid not only by the ascendancy, but particularly by the unparalleled success of a black president . . . and that triumph of virtue and decency had riled the racist instinct and provoked a collective unanimity of evil into action.

You would expect four years of Trumpism would be enough national shame to embarrass the soul of a people and to jolt the American public into some unanimous rejection of such repugnant leadership idiocy. But no. The rascal whose legendary self-worship was plain for all to see, the radical isolationist who at every turn tore down ever pillar of integrity, common purpose, global camaraderie, who skipped taxes, bent the law to suit himself and used public office to build his personal empire with unashamed disdain and zero consideration of the greater good of the society was still voted for by millions. I mean the bigoted pervert who groped women at will and clearly considers womenfolk a God-given object of man's wanton pleasure. He secured no less than 70 million votes! Seventy million sane adults think such a kind is most suited as a moral yardstick and leader of their society.

Although, rather luckily, Joe Biden commanded a significant majority of sane votes, the protest vote and race theory seemed to fall off. There appears to be an emerging or consistent trend of inexplicable apathy, self-worship and downright idiocy in America, in Europe as here in Africa and elsewhere in the world. A consuming wave of human idiocy. Surely, some other set of behavioural factors must explain these rather weird human phenomena. The moral core of any society rots irredeemable at that point when it loses its capacity to be annoyed and repulsed by increasingly untoward and anti-social conduct of any of its members.

Several times this thought has struck me as I watch in horror the inexorable social dissonance that surrounds us, the deplorable decline of basic decency, of ethics, social decorum, the rot in governance integrity and in common goodwill in our country. Is there a single bone of decency at all remaining in the entire moral architecture and body politic of our country? The thought struck me several times when Prof Welshman Ncube pointed out, rather poignantly, a few years back how everyday Zimbabwean citizens do not relate their everyday experiences and struggles in any way to the election decisions they make on the ballot or to the leadership and government of the day. The two are decidedly disconnected in the Zimbo psyche. The thought hit me several times when Dr Nkosana Moyo observed repeatedly that Zimbabweans outside the sphere of power, whether in opposition politics, in civil society initiatives or in the everyday hassle, are neither adequately abhorred by the culture of mis-governance, nor truly desire a government change, in spite of all the noises they may seem to make on the immediate eve of every election, they do not, in their hearts verily condemn corruption, looting and governance impropriety.

As individuals and groups, they only envy those in the gravy train, they simply regret exclusion from the looting orgy and they are clamouring for their turn at the levers of power and control that will allow them the same access to abuse and unbridled rape of the public purse. For this measure, the collapse of society cannot be simply about those in power and their legendary propensity for looting and abuse. That is too much common purpose to harp on. The actual horror must be found in the numbness of the rest of society, the incapacity of citizens for anger, the loud collective silence of citizens at the repeated incidence of otherwise infuriating abuse.

Life is too short and brutish, the soul and very fabric of society is at its most vulnerable when its members are consumed by self, immediate family, by the ethic affiliation and that ring-fenced allegiance to private purpose which turns a blind eye to the common utility of public governance and politics. This dysfunction, confined prism of kwangu-kwangu where one prefers to look the other way and hardly ever thinks of the implications of their behaviour to greater society is defined in ancient Greek philosophy as idiocy. Social idiots are the basic and most prehistoric form of humans that are motivated only by self and most immediate circle. It is the very antithesis of public life and democracy which are secured on social accountability, public scrutiny and premises on the regular court of public confidence and consensus-building.

The thought hit me several times along our hard road when our governance at local and national level hit rock-bottom at every juncture of our 40 year history. The thought of national idiocy struck me anew when I noticed that far from appealing, Donald Trump has  revealed the sincere American psyche. His worst undoing may have been the bold frankness to act the true American on the world's most public stage. The shocking, yet warm reception was a muted acknowledgement that Trump is a warrior of a 100 million American racist bigots who have not had the decency to declare their deeply enshrined values of bigotry openly before. The thought of our hypocrisy and national idiocy hit me these couple of weeks when I noticed that in fact the every day Zimbo is not moved by the vice-president's moral shenanigans at all. At his very worst.

He is only an honest mirror of who a Zimbo man is and how your true Zimbo is wired. I realised how entrenched and how widespread the power-play of sexuality at household level, in our classrooms, at community level, in our churches, at the workplace, in the boardroom across marital and age boundaries plays out. How a whole country connived to reduce what would otherwise be a monument governance scandal and a moral bombshell into a social comedy, now as in many similar cases before became obvious to me.

We played enlightened and civilised at the core level. We play concerned by the next human being's condition, experience and plight. We commit to hold one another to account and to play our part for the good of all. We know all the politically correct things to say and posture accordingly. Yet our human intelligence has not delivered us too far from the state of them, selfish and barbaric idiots that our primate brothers called "abaseguswini".

A consumerist Me, Myself, I global media crusade sponsored by global capitalism has been chipping away at what remains of Africanism and Ubuntu.  It is reducing the young generation to selfish human islands and robbing them of the collective willpower to rescue their common future of colossal moral failure.

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Zii Masiye (ziimasiye@gmail.com)

Source - the standard
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