"..let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God"
Have you ever killed someone?
Have you ever gotten someone killed?
Do you think you will ever kill an innocent person or get them killed?
If 500 people come from a village and beat your family up, will you encourage a retaliatory attack on that village?
These rather giving questions are the necessary questions to ask in recognizing "Genocidal thinking."
So what is genocidal thinking?
Genocidal thinking is an individual to collective mentality that directly or indirectly results in the death of a person or group of people.
Most of us, hopefully, immediately reject such association. We will never kill an innocent being. We are not killers. We do not get people killed, we quickly say, and reside in comfort zones within our minds, insulated from being genocidal thinkers. But how true is this?
Like you, probably, I used to reject being labelled a genocidal thinker. A great individual I respect, though I can't claim I always agree with, Dr. Rotmi Adigun, used to tell me that my many statements were genocidal thinking. I strongly and vehemently rejected such 'preposterous' accusation.
"They do it to us." "I am only giving them back a piece of their own medicine," I used to say of my pronouncements against certain groups or societies.
"They," is the underlining feature of genocidal thinking. It all starts with the "they," "that group," "those people." The minute we as human beings separate ourselves from others, castigating "others," as a different "they," we have entered the realm of genocidal thinking.
The Latin expression, Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat which means: the burden of proof lies with who declares, not who denies. And is the foundation of the global legal, "presumption of innocence," principle, which is crucial to appreciating how we get into genocidal thought by easily throwing in that "they."
Can we with one hundred percent confidence, substantiate our accusation that all of them do so? That all of them would do such to us. Every last person? How we love to judge!
But we are ready to have them all punished for what, let's say, just one of them crusades against, and what in most occasions, only few of them do. How do we feel that we led to the death of that single innocent person- who begged them at risk of his life - not to go out and ravage our community? "Guilty beyond reasonable doubt," and "innocent until proven guilty," is the standard in law and the standard we should apply. Do we ever?
As genocidal thinkers, we have decided, without much thought, to sacrifice that one innocent person in our fulfillment of our anger towards the supposed majority.
But what of when we are "that innocent person," in our community who tried our best to stop the majority from going out in ravage? How would it be for us when the "other people," come over and possibly find "me," alone, unfortunately, walking alone, and kill me for what I denied and discouraged?
None of us really wants the blood of innocent people on our hands. This is not what we wish to live the rest of our lives remembering. But unless we seriously train and condition ourselves to reject genocidal thinking, these things happen so fast - and we can be among the rioters who rush out to "revenge," and in our chaos and commotion, get innocent people killed.
A Genocide of One
A verse preached by Muslims from the Quran goes: "whoever kills an innocent person, it is as though he has killed the entire human race." This is very correct. Because for that one person, the world has ended. Armageddon has occurred. And while we go on with our business, and while the global community counts him as just one, or a few victims - not yet a genocide; for him, he is everyone. For his family, things will never be the same again. Biblical "thou shalt not kill," is explicit.
Now, I know many of us are still feeling we are not partakers in Genocidal thinking, but have we really considered the impact of our utterances? Have we weighed the implication of the thoughts we spread? Dr. Rotimi cautioned me, "these things you say about them, do you realize that it reinforces the confidence of those who kill them?"
I am still in the process of purifying myself of genocidal thinking. It has been a year since I got sensitized to my genocidal thinking and I can not yet boast of being non-genocidal in thought. But I am happy with my progress. I see beauty in it and recognize how important it is to sanitize ourselves of genocidal thought. Now, I refrain from promoting hatred based on grouping, ethnic categorization, religious affiliation. It is not until you promote murder directly that you are guilty; there is a build-up of negative thoughts towards a particular group, that reinforces the genocidal enactors to commit their atrocities. A Hermatic principle states that a stone thrown into a pond, generates a ripple that goes on -sets a vibration- to affect and change the entire galaxy. Meteorologists explain that hurricanes in the United States are set off by a mere kicking up of sand, by a girl playing at a beach in far off Africa. This is how interconnected our world is. Our words here, reinforce the reality somewhere else.
Every individual is ultimately responsible for his actions, but how do we feel knowing that we contributed to the death of a person or people?
Legendary Bob Marley made the following song of late Emperor Halie Selassie's words:
Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And abandoned -
Everywhere is war -
Me say war.
You Are the Prophet
This message is for you. Even though you may believe you will never be responsible for genocidal violence. What of your friends? Every genocide occurred and occurs in communities like ours. Yesterday two bombs exploded in Turkey, killing over 40 people. The Turks picked up sticks and went to beat Syrian refugees in Turkey. A day before, had you asked the Turks if they would participate in genocidal thinking, they probably would have said, never. Genocidal thinking happens all over the world, in Nigeria, China, even in the United States, where police are oft called "pigs."
It takes much desensitizing to learn not to accidentally kill or punish innocent people in moments of anger. And if we have the spiritual development and the training to resist genocidal thinking, what of when tomorrow night one of your friends whispers to you in the quiet of the night that, "he just killed someone," during a riot. Could you have prevented this? Did you discuss genocidal thinking with him and encourage him to aspire for all the levels of restraint not to have had that possibly innocent blood on his shoulders? The headline quote, hopefully many Muslims would know of, is from Quran 5 verse 8. Unfortunately so many act in direct contradiction of such standards. We get pushed by the perceived hate of others towards us to get unjust. And the cycle self-perpetuates.
Wise words: God put us together of different races on earth to "get to know each other," and our being "better" "is only by our good actions." Let our only reference to group, ethnicity, religion, culture or country, be for good and never brought up in bad things. These groups we belong to, even religion, are only meant to be institutions of good, for our benefit and the benefit of humanity. But too often we drag them into the bad within us and the bad thoughts we harbor for others. It is better to not have these groups than ever use them for bad.
It is you that must take the message of genocidal thinking to all the people in your life. This is why God put us together on this planet, and not a person -per-world. We are the prophets in our communities. The world is at a time more than ever where we need to aggressively look for the good within us and gather good together to be stronger to challenge the unfortunate evil. This is what ENDS.ng promotes, this is what I am doing and so also many others.
Shall we put an end to genocidal thinking?
Dr. Peregrino Brimah