Each time politicians get cornered in Africa, they invoke God and attempt to appeal to our faiths in efforts to deflect pressure, exculpate themselves from responsibility or blatantly seek to mislead by pacifying the masses. As Karl Marx state; “religion is the opiate of the masses.” So each time our leaders revert to religion, atheists in our midst have a field day on why religion is bad. But, just like it can be said for ipiods, religion is not bad in and of itself but on how it is understood/used/practiced/adhered to etc. The difference lies in use and abuse.
Here’s a simple example (and it’s just an analogy that does not make it universally applicable). As humans, we have emotions, just like other beings (animals for example). That’s nature’s gift to us; what you call nature I call God.
A man in Texas physically punched (repeatedly) another man to death. The victim was molesting his child when he encountered him. He blacked out and started beating the man, when he came to, he realized that in his fit of rage he beat the man so hard he lay motionless, he panicked and called 911 for an ambulance. “Come on! This guy is going to die on me!” the man yelled at the 911 dispatcher. “I don’t know what to do.”
The father was arrested but charges were later dropped because in Texas deadly force is justified in order to stop an aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault. The father nonetheless felt bad for taking another man’s life even though he was justified in doing so. He clearly did not want to kill the man.
Emotion got the better of him; animals attack us to protect their babies because of emotions. That natural component is at the root of a lot of the things we do. We are not in charge of our emotions, we can control or regulate them but the triggers for any emotional response are usually external and we have no control over that.
It is very common in our part of the world to revert to “Allah la keh” (it’s God’s will) especially in situations whose outcome we are not so thrilled about; and if that situation is seemingly accidental. Although in most of these cases there are actions that, if avoided, could have averted the situation from unfolding. But in our limited human capacity, we may not always get it right despite our best efforts. In most cases, this is when people surrender the case to the divine; “it was predestined.” Trying to explain what that means will not be adequately addressed in this post, but it is an essential element of faith to believe in predestination.
Believe in predestination also does not mean mindless inaction with complete faith that what is to be must be. Cause and effect still play a an integral part, but in that continuum between cause and effect, there are external factors that none of the actors can influence. If at the confluence of your sincere best efforts is an external factor that negatively influences the effects of your actions, or leads to an undesirable outcome, that is when the faithful will say “Allah la keh.” That should be understood to mean that “despite my sincere best efforts, I could not get the desired outcome I was aiming for”; so instead of submitting to misery the faithful comforts himself or herself with the believe that there are elements outside of his or her control.
What happens next is largely dependent on personality or level of determination; do I give up, or do I make another attempt but this time prepare myself against those negative external factors?
This, to a large extent explains our attitudes in the fight against tyranny. Some gave up and resigned to fate, others became indifferent and others yet refused to settle for inaction. We tried in 1996, we failed and learnt lessons, prepared for those experiences in 2001 but failed and got confronted with new challenges that became new lessons to learn from for 2006, then 2011 and finally in 2016 the persistence paid off. Now, the other side can say “Allah la keh” that the tyrant’s reign ended when it did, it was predestined to end there even though they fought to extend it. As Yaya Jammeh himself stated in 1994; “my term will not extend even a second beyond what God has destined.” The rest is history.
People committed their times, resources and bodies (actions) to end tyranny (a desired outcome) but had to contend with issues outside of their control such as the tyrant’s support base, resources and strategies (external factors). Somewhere in that state of affairs is the use of our senses and emotions to recognize the difference between our desired state and the status quo triggering the need to take action to alter the status quo. If we are so literal in our interpretations then why bother trying to dislodge him if he was in fact supposed to be there by divine ordainment? Believing in destiny is not always so literally interpreted.
So Madam Vice President, we may be a nation of believers but within our beliefs lies the understanding that we are all tasked with responsibilities, the President nonetheless. We have been endowed with the capacity to recognize where those responsibilities are not being carried out and to take action to remedy them. That action starts with sincere good advise from whence came the terminology CDL (Coalition Defenders League). We are now at the stage where we recognize that the President has no desire or inclination to take any good advise on board so he set a collision course for himself against the masses and that can only end one way; the masses always remain standing.
To my atheist brothers and sisters; our problem is not religion; it’s a lack of capacity to be tolerant; to disagree yet be respectful. Let’s reason well and help each other where we can, that is more productive than constantly seeking to denigrate others just because we see their views differently.