Column Opinion

Nigeria 2023: The Tunnel Of Reality

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

If you must buy a baboon don’t buy the one with a 10% discount.

Reality is a construct

At the beginning of the year, I had promised that for 12 months, In Shaa Allah, I will once a month X-ray the issues around the forthcoming General Elections in the world’s largest black population and sufacracy. This is number six, and six more to go.

So, there’s this theory we call the theory of the reality tunnel. The reality tunnel is a theory that, with a subconscious set of mental filters formed from beliefs and experiences, every individual interprets the same world differently, hence “Truth is in the eye of the beholder”. It is similar to the idea of representative realism, and was coined by Timothy Leary.

According to the theory, humans see the world through the filters of their experiences and beliefs. Upbringing, education, all the joys and failures that have ever happened to us are the building material for the tunnel of reality. And that’s why people react differently to the same things.

Take Leonardo da Vinci’s legendary painting, “Gioconda.” As you look at it, one person will notice the enigmatic smile, another will notice the mathematical perfection in it. And the third will see a complete woman without eyebrows. And none of this trio is wrong – they all live in their tunnels and sincerely believe they are right.

And all because, according to the theory of tunnels, there is no single truth. And cannot exist. Escaping from your tunnel is difficult. It is like a well-trodden path: comfortable and familiar.

Each exit from the tunnel is unusual, dangerous and unpleasant – but it’s in these moments that real creativity happens, in these moments you can become a creator who creates a completely new, unique reality. Nigeria is at a verge, 2023 presents an opportunity, and a new reality, if we take it, remains to be seen.

Looking out across the rolling wooded acres of Arlington National Cemetery, with its hundreds of thousands of white stones in perfectly ordered rows, brings an assortment of emotions that are impossible to escape. Sadness. Desolation. Pride of country. Anger over so many lost young lives. The stones represent tremendous loss as well as the gift of freedom we are able to enjoy.

Arlington National Cemetery is a United States military cemetery located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., in Arlington County, Virginia. Within its 624 acres, over four hundred thousand active-duty service members, veterans, and their families have been buried. In addition to the military heroes, Arlington is also the final resting place for a select number of presidents, astronauts, senators, and Supreme Court justices. Founded during the dark days of the Civil War, the cemetery now contains the remains of military personnel from every American war — from the Revolution to Iraq and Afghanistan.

But what about those of us who have never been called upon to lay down our lives in battle? Is the whole concept of “sacrifice” something for others and not for us? No!

Sacrifice isn’t just some dramatic final act of heroism. Sacrifice is also laying down our privileges, benefits, and pleasures for the good of someone else.

Nigeria and Nigerians are torn deeply by terrible segregated, divided, dichotomous, ethnic and religious schisms. The nation has as much as one million tunnels of reality. With barely a handful willing to make a sacrifice for a new reality.

As we approach 2023, very few persons are thinking, and by thinking, I mean this THINK stands for:

T–True: Is what I write true?

H–Helpful: Is what I say or do helpful?

I–Inspiring: Is what I do, write and say, inspiring?

N–Necessary: Is what I do say, or write necessary?

K–Kind: Are my actions, words kind to others?

I as a matter of me look at issues from the larger picture. I do not just dabble into matters, I THINK, I look beyond sophistry, anchored more on bare-face political partisanship, and ethnicity or group affiliation. I leave room for human frailties but I THINK before I write or talk.

Whether Atiku, Peter Obi, Wike, Buhari or GEJ,  Fulanis and the South, all are situated in dichotomies, APC is a Muslim party, does it make PDP any Christian? Our tunnel of reality is not a subject within the shores of this nation that one talks about without understanding, it evokes a lot of passions from the heated arguments which it generates, everyone holding dear to their values, and idiosyncrasies.

Again with 2023, our propensity to think as easterners, westerners, northerners, middle belters, all depending on the turns of event comes to bear.

Every nation has countless tunnels or the other, if it is not the north vs south, it is versus blocs, religion or even ideological dichotomies. There are several reasons why such tunnels exist. Sometimes it is a function of creation or political correctness like we have in the Nigerian case.

In our sensationalism, we have in every sense approached most problems sectionally thereby creating all kinds of unnecessary petty-culture-ethnic-religious-parapoism and bourgeois mentality in dealing with our national issues.

Tunnels and dichotomies are  one that is used by political apologists as a socio-economic weapon. Apart from the positive, our dichotomy has been used to exploit and bamboozle the masses without major consideration being given to the dynamics of the law of development which in essence deals scientifically with the unity and struggle of opportunities and opposites.

2023 provides in truth a possibility for a social revolution that can solve our problems, be they political, economic or social. In this sense we need more than a free, fair and credible election, what we need is the progressive element (Sadly that progressive element today is largely on paper only) to come together as a striking force. Because they have a revolutionary duty to this nation to help in striking a balance, to disabuse the thought pattern that has been built.

There is an ideology of hatred, one that props up again and again. This is a factor that reactionary elements within the system use in battling the progressives.

2023 again exposes us to one thing and it is the national question. What is a nation? We can not fully understand the implication of the drama of the delegates primary, the consensus drama, without answering the national question scientifically in relating this phenomenon to our socio-political economical development, it is important to look at the historical development of our national question.

The national question “is a question of solving vital national problems of social development, abolishing national oppression and inequality, eliminating obstacles to the development of peoples, including achievement of factual quality and internationalism in national relations.”

The general elections and the road to it brings to question the concepts of “national character”, “national culture”, “national consciousness”, ”national philosophy and psychology” all often used and discussed without carefully and critically understanding their contradicting class nature in antagonistic societies and their relative independence.

Nigeria should be a nation of a lasting historical community of people constituting a form of social development based on the community of economic life in combination with the community of language, territory, culture, consciousness and psychology. But are we?

Are we a nation of various ethnic groups moving towards greater realization of cultural togetherness, peace and stability for all?

The summary of this admonition is both a warning and a challenge on the basis of what I have outlined; it is only fair and fitting to direct our critical analysis of the Nigerian political climate in the form of serious warning that all is not well. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to do and say what is right and choose which battles to fight on the premise of parochial locus standi.

We need to come to grips with realities of the moment which point to the inevitabilities of the future, because time is running out, for us to initiate entry into a tunnel of social revolution. Are we ready, only time will tell.

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