Before we delve into this its topic matter, it’s well…controversial? I’ve been careful in selecting content for this blog, but I think its time to rock the boat a bit.
Nigeria is a country which has deeply religious and cultural ties, the origins of which go not only back to the time the country itself was founded and colonised, but to when more “traditional” religions were the norm. Most of the people you’d meet these days are more likely than not to be either Christians or Muslims with a small percentage subscribing to other beliefs.
This creates an interesting dynamic within the society itself, the interaction between different people and their belief systems, as culture and morals are altered by an ever transforming world. There’s alot to talk about, ALOT. Too much for a measly blog, and certainly I doubt I’m in any position to take up this ardous task. So forgive the skimming and brushing off of some rather important parts of this immense and complex topic. Anyway, religion plays an important part in most people’s lives and its deeply rooted in their identity and sense of self, this consequentially helps to shape and mold their world views, opinions and ultimately decisions.
But here’s the problem, this creates a peculiar phenomenon, people are generally unable to accept or comprehend anything outside the religious and cultural views around them. Whenever you meet someone new, you’re almost always eventually asked this question “are you a muslim or a christian?”, filling out a form for school or at the bank? there’s two options: christian or muslim? A one-dimensional world view in which only two ‘true’ religions exist. You’ll see its influence at social functions having nothing to do with religion but some how a multitude of “prayers” are inserted in. It goes on and on in practically every facet of everyday life,the world beyond is forgotten, and we all pretend it doesn’t exist. Perhaps this could be forgiven some would argue, since the point of society and its institutions are to cater to the majority, and in a way they would be right. But that’s addressing the ‘symptom’ not the ‘disease’.
The “disease” stems from something created accidentally, I’m not saying the religious integration of a society is a bad thing, I’m saying a closed minded culture which has the motto “I’m right and everyone else is stupid and going to hell” is well…stifling to say the least. There’s always some sort of division between one religion and another, one religious sect and another. But worst of all is to be a ‘non-believer’ to be condemned in unity. Biases and prejudice are so common they aren’t only acceptable, they are commended and encouraged. People fear that which they do not know or understand.
I must say I don’t entirely agree with Bertrand Russell, but I must contend he has a point. This fear he speaks of, In my opinion is anxiety, religion creates a safe intellectual haven, as long as you do not doubt anything, as long as you go where you are supposed to go all is certain and known. This trains the mind to think of all subject matters with this doctrine. Metaphysics or not people become unable to think outside a fixed “loop” and there is reason for this, outside this “loop” is uncertainty, an infinte abyss of darkness where there is little hope, or so many are lead to believe. Here I admit I must tread carefully, else I be crucified on an intellectual cross and quite possibly a real one. So once again, understand that I am not admonishing religion, but what the culture around it has created. This creation has many names and forms: ignorance, closed-mindedness etc and this is what I wish to change, somehow. Not everyone who is religious is haunted by this ghost, I have to add, but far too many are afflicted.
Agree? Disagree? Have a different opinion on the issue? Comment and share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you, until next time.
If you’re wondering what my answer to the Christian or Muslim question is, I’m an ‘agnostic existentialist’.