I recently saw a movie titled “Lumumba” with a friend at the Kendall cinema. As I watched, I was moved to the point of tears. It is a movie about the independence champion of Congo (Zaire), Patrice Lumumba, who became Prime Minister after convincing the Belgians to leave Congo. His regime, however, was undermined and short-lived because of interference in the country by the Belgians, the CIA and the selfish desire of a former colleague named Joseph Mobutu Sese Seko. Anyone who is familiar with politics of the Congo knows the devastation the country went through under the dictatorial rule of Mobutu, who was supported by the Americans and later the French government. One only has to read the news to know that this devastation is not over, but continues until today as a war is being waged, ravaging the natural resources of the country and burying the people in poverty and despair.
Watching the movie reminded me of the continuous vicious cycle of bloodshed in parts of East Africa and other countries in Africa. There is a saying that goes something like, “He who lives by the sword will surely die by the sword.” If this is true, we are all doomed, for we are all offspring of violence and the sword.
Before you label me an overtly pessimistic individual, I should defend myself and say that I am one of the most optimistic people I know. I strongly believe in a God who loves the world and has a better rosy future for us. However, this is not about the God I believe in, but the human population that I have lost all hope in. I should confess that I am a hypocrite. If I were not, I would have lost all hope for mankind a long time ago. However I bought into the “management shenanigan.”
To put some meaning to my ranting, let me make some illustrations. History has shown us that we all have a bloody and chaotic past. There were (and still are) injustices committed by various groups in the form of slavery, genocide, colonialism, autocratic rule, holy wars, etc. History has also shown us that the oppressed group never forgets the injustices done to it; never mind that the generations who suffered might already be dead. The sense and need for revenge have led to much bloodshed in the past century. The violence just never ends; it is a vicious circle. If this is so clear, how come many people choose to be optimists? Well, I am neither a political scientist nor a psychologist, but I would like to propose two hypotheses. One would be that the optimists live in countries that enjoy fruits gained by oppressing some other group. Therefore, most optimists live in the west and tend to remain optimists as long as they live in comfort.
My other hypothesis is what I referred to as the “management shenanigan.” The management shenanigan is the ability of our leaders and governments to manage problems we face and deceive us into believing everything is fine and spiffy with the world. They do not solve these problems; they just manage them. Part of the shenanigan process is the United Nations, NATO, the Middle East peace process, various tribunals and courts of justices, and development aids. With all of these institutions and their incredible media exposure, I could be fooled into thinking there is hope for peace and an end to the circle of death and violence that has plagued our history. Alas, it is nothing but management, and there is only so much management one can do before the problems break out in the open. Wall Street did a good job of demonstrating this with the whole dotcom fiasco.
We are a doomed species living on borrowed time. We will not stop until we destroy one another. Just look at the Israeli-Palestine conflict, the North Ireland impasse, the recent tragedy in NYC and DC; the whole shenanigan is falling apart at its seams. Maybe it is because the managers are changing in the current age. Am I a pessimist? No, I am just a realist when it comes to thinking about the actions of mankind. I have put my optimism in a more spiritual quest, and I suggest you find something that is worth putting your optimism in, because mankind will not fail to show you that your trust was placed wrongly in the end.
Bukola Afolayan is a graduate student in the department of Nuclear Engineering.