Monday, June 17, 2013

Emotions, cynicism should not rule over ideas
By Editor
Fri 14 June 2013, 14:00 CAT

There is need for civility, calmness and rationality in our political discourse. And as Chanda Mfula, the Patriotic Front media coordinator, says, we should "guard against turning the country into a politically charged landmass where emotions rule over ideas".

There is just too much emotion in our politics. We are not trying to reason things out and come up with the best ideas. You listen to radio programmes, it's all about charged emotions. People are not reasoning.

It's all about name-calling. Some are even criticising, denouncing things or processes they do not understand at all. Why not adopt a calm and rational approach to political discourse? Why not seek other approaches and admit that we are able to organise our affairs and our destiny in a more rational and humane manner?

Ideas are needed. Consciousness is needed. But who sow them, cultivate them and make them invincible? It is Chanda and his comrades, all the young people of this country; all our people.

Is this a utopia, just one more dream among many others? No, because it is objectively inevitable and there is no alternative to it. It has been dreamed of before, only perhaps too early.

As the most visionary of the sons of this country, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, said: "We are basically agreed in our determination to establish a society characterised by tolerance, free discussion, responsible leadership and the powerful influence of non-leaders in the running of the nation's affairs. Ever since independence, we have worked for a system of government in which people are able to participate effectively in influencing policies and decisions in the day-to-day running of government. This is what I have called participatory democracy" (UNIP national council, March 1969).

New ideas, not emotions and insults, are needed. We must start building awareness - a new awareness. It is not that our country lacks awareness today; but such a new and complex era as this one we are today living in requires ideas, principles, values more than ever. It requires a lot of awareness, and that awareness must be built, by adding together the awareness of what is happening and the awareness of what is going to happen. It has to be built by adding together more than just one revolutionary thought and the best ethical and humane ideas of more than one religion, of all authentic religions, the sum total of the preaching of many political thinkers, of many schools and of many religions.

There has to be elaborate forethought for this, a culture of calmness, of listening respectfully to others when they are speaking even if one does not agree with what they are saying. There has to be civility in our discourse, politically or otherwise.

Those who think they have better ideas than others have no reason to resort to emotion, insults and abuse of others.

We will not improve our understanding of things, issues and of others if every time we engage in discourse, emotion consumes us. It is very important to remain sober or calm in any discourse and to listen respectfully to the views being expressed by others. This is important because there will no longer be one single thinker. Hundreds of thousands, millions of thinkers can make up the thinker our times need.

We need to meditate deeply, delve deeply into what is being said and analyse things truthfully without any prejudices or dogmas. We need to be broadminded, listening to everyone, without thinking we are the owners of the absolute truth.

We have many challenges that need a lot of reasoning and better ideas. Our challenge is not only of survival, and it is not just surviving for the sake of surviving, no. It is a battle to take part in the struggle for a better country, to participate in that struggle along with the rest of our fellow citizens.

And we should not just think of today. Let's think about tomorrow. The idea of the future nation is the most important and noble idea that a revolutionary, an honest and progressive citizen can harbour.

Revolutionaries, all good citizens have always fought for the future. And to fight for the future does not mean not to avoid doing every day what must be done for the present. These two ideas must not be confused.

Do we say all this out of dogmatism? Do we say it out of ideological fundamentalism? No, not at all. We say it based on a very deep conviction. Our nation cannot be saved if it persists on the course it is following. The course we are following now is a very destructive one. People have stopped reasoning, emotion and cynicism have won them over, have totally consumed them. Things are opposed for the sake of it; things are supported for the sake of it. There is no reasoning. It is dangerous when people lose the ability to reason and are consumed by emotion.

This is not a recipe for building a nation that is united and that is capable of solving its problems. This nation that we are shaping through emotion and cynicism is a dangerous one. And those involved in this know how dangerous their approach is. They are shaping a nation of which they themselves are scared.

We must nurture values. There is no alternative; authentic values are those practiced in the greatest freedom.

We all hope to live long, all of us, through the ideas that we believe and in the conviction that those following our steps will carry them forward. Yes, ideas can be carried forward, but not emotion or cynicism. And if all that we are teaching our young people is emotion and cynicism, what are we going to do for them?

New concepts and ideas are required that will make possible a viable nation, a sustainable nation and a better nation.

Therefore to us, what Chanda is saying is of profound interest, a source of reflection, encouragement and a reaffirmation of our convictions. We have lived through days of uncertainty and bitterness and witness the loss of faith of many progressive men and women. It is very pleasing to hear a young politician say the things Chanda is saying. This gives us great hope that the truth is starting to gain ground and that people are now beginning to think more profoundly.

Actually, only a calm reflection and an honest exchange of ideas, and not emotion and cynicism, will show us the way to better consider the legitimate interests of all our people.

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