By Talemoh Wycliffe Dah
Given our love for religion, its practice (ritualistic observance), overt and covert proselytization agendas or actions and heartfelt, actively fatal defense, one would have thought ours will be a country that can boast of a people with an arête of virtues. But we are not anywhere and anything near that. For us, lying and hating are twins from Siam, joined at the heart region.
When you hate someone, you believe anything said against him. You cannot see anything good from him. All of his good intentions are seen as part of an orchestrated ploy to deceive people. You demonize him and believe he is not capable of any good. So any fake news about him is seen as true without checking the source and whatever the source is. You celebrate his misfortunes, some kind of schadenfreude.
When you hate someone, you generate fake news about him or her.
Hearing from one side and taking actions therefrom is submission to the tyranny of ignorance. Put another way, it is like being cornered in the darkness of your ignorance and forced to perform the act of naming colours. You are most likely going to be wrong. Not checking some information further before drawing conclusions is the reason a child will think the hedgehog is only thorns and the tortoise is a hard stone with designs on its surface.
Thus not verifying an information is to choose to act blindly, to make foolish decisions and to be childish with all the consequences.
Those who originate falsehood do it as jokes, simple mischief or planned evil, each class riding on our avidity to be provoked. The jocular stories are often pretty obvious, meant to generate laughter. These are sometimes mistaken for truth but at other times they just deepen the dislike people have for the subject of the story.
In Nigeria, the jokes are often about highly influential persons especially serving or past leaders but also traditional leaders and the clergy. A cursory look at the jokes shows that they are often sheer disrespect for the people concerned. That usually offends those who are on the same cultural or religious divide with the leader and worsens or creates divisions among us.
Falsehood created and disseminated as simple mischief often achieves its aim, sometimes to proportions the originator (call him or her small demon) never meant it to get to.
For example, during an Ebola era, life loving Nigerians were asked to bath with salt water and drink same as some protection against Ebola. We did and some people with heart disease and hypertension died after drinking the salt water. At another time, someone sent text about a political party’s ongoing primaries result. We quickly noticed that the numbers were more than a hundred times higher than the people at the party primaries venue. We called back and told him and he said he was misled.
Evil intended falsehood is, as expected, the worst. At Yuletide some years ago, a false story was circulated that meat at the abattoir was poisoned. No one bought meat that time and the butchers incurred a lot of losses.
Presently in Nigeria, some killings are falsely arrogated to a certain people and this has led to devastating consequences as locals attack their neighbours and lots of life have been lost.
When elections are rigged, false figures are announced and sometimes clashes occur. Even when clashes do not occur, wrong persons rule with their warped ideas that everything has to be manipulated.
While hatred generates falsehood, the latter breeds hatred and this vicious cycle can widen like the wave a pebble thrown into the middle of a pool does. It reaches the end of the pool and comes back to where it started.
▪Dah, a medical practitioner based in Abuja, sent this via email@example.com