Opinion

THE MURDER OF GEORGE FLOYD AND THE NIGERIAN PARALLEL

Emeka Ugbor

Let me begin by saying that the views expressed in this piece are entirely my personal opinion.

At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, I make bold to say that humanity as we know it, is at the brink of extinction. Man is gradually but surely slipping down the evolution ladder to the level of bestiality (here defined as stupid, brutal quality of a beast). This is because I believe that the critical traits that define us as humans are ferociously being eroded at an alarming speed.

Two of the most important qualities that distinguish us as humans and separate us from beasts are the sanctity of and respect for human life and an active, living conscience (here defined as the inward prompting which attests to ones character and actions, warning against and condemning that which is wrong and approving and prompting that which is right), in other words, a moral compass.

Recent events have further heightened my concerns that mankind is nearly, nearly totally blind to the sacredness of life and where there remain vestiges of a conscience, such has been hardened and darkened beyond feelings by a hot iron.

Nothing is bringing this deadly truth home faster than the marriage between the internet and smartphones. Social media, one of the offsprings of this marriage, has provided us a platform to easily access and assess the current state of man’s mind and the gravity of damage to his moral compass. And the result of the assessment, especially taking into account the events of the past few days, is downright scary.

Social media has gifted us front row seats to witness first hand, mankind’s arrogant disdain for the crowning piece of God’s elaborate creation plan and the seemingly beyond-repairs damage to his (man’s) moral compass.

Roughly eight days ago, in the United States of America, a country with citizens well known for their animal rights activism, the world was treated to the sight of a human being, created by God, who was dehumanized and brutalized by agents of state entrusted with the responsibility to serve and protect him. And then, we all watched in real, living horror, as his life slowly seeped out of him. Believe me, I don’t give a flying damn about the color of his skin or the reason for the initial altercation. I am not saying it is irrelevant. I am just saying that at this point, I don’t care.

I really don’t know what most proves the total disdain for the sacredness of human life and the badly damaged moral compass in the whole episode.

Is it the refusal by the police officers to use the available first choice, less lethal weapons of restraint like the baton, pepper spray or taser, assuming he was resisting arrest (which from what we have seen so far, he wasn’t)?

Is it the casual, relaxed but deviously determined and hatred-filled look on the face of Mr Derek Chauvin as he pressed his knee deep in George Floyd’s neck and even adjusting it at a point to make himself more comfortable?

Is it his nonchalant indifference to the repeated cries and pleading of “I can’t breathe” from George Floyd?

Is it the tacit support and assistance provided by the three other officers either by helping to further restrain George Floyd or keeping concerned and protesting bystanders away and preventing them from intervening?

Take your pick. This is the kind of stuff you watch on National Geographic Channel.

To me, Derek Chauvin represents everything that is wrong with mankind today: no respect for the sanctity of human life, a dead conscience and one step way from bestiality.

Rightly so, the outrage from around the world has been seen and heard.

Sadly however, I couldn’t help but observe that strangely enough, the “spirit of chauvin” has been here in Nigeria for far longer than we can imagine, roaming wild and free looking for whose neck to kneel on.

We have heard of Derek Chauvins who have either turned back or denied critically ill patients emergency medical attention willingly or unwillingly, because they presume such patients are COVID-19 positive irrespective of the symptoms they might be presenting or what their relatives are saying. Their argument is that they don’t want to be infected since the government or their health institutions, in the case of private facilities, did not provide them with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They therefore are indifferent to the pleadings of family members and relatives even if it is to offer first aid, ignore the cries of the patients and don’t mind watching life slowly seeping out of them. The summary of it, like they say now, is that this is not the best time to fall ill with any ailment that would require a visit to the hospital in Nigeria.

What has happened to the Hippocratic oat? Wherein lies our humanity? What has happened to our moral compass? What if it were your brother/sister/father/mother/uncle/aunt? Would you treat them exactly the same way?

We have heard of Derek Chauvins who trailed, captured, bound, raped and physically assaulted with a fire extinguisher, a 22-year old undergraduate lady in a Church where she went to study privately. INSIDE A PLACE OF WORSHIP!! They ignored her pleadings. They displayed arrogant disdain and indifference to the sanctity of her life, the temple they desecrated and by extension, the God who dwells there. Where is the reverence and respect for the sacredness of life and its giver? What has happened to our moral compass?

We have heard of Derek Chauvins who shot and killed an unarmed 16-year old girl who was standing by the road side. A victim of a senseless and unjustifiable use of deadly force as a first option on unarmed civilians by conscienceless erratic, emotionally unstable and ill-trained Derek Chauvins. Wherein lies our humanity? What has happened to our moral compass?

Now, you get the drift and we can go on and on. My concern is that if we allow this to persist, very soon, our collective consciousness will be totally numbed and this would appear to be the “new normal”. Imagine a world where we all feel, think and act like Derek Chauvin. That is scary.

It is time for us to begin a spiritual revival and a moral renewal. We must acknowledge the place of God in our lives. We must redefine our values as humans. We must insist that those values, especially the respect for another human life, are tenaciously protected and appropriately and speedily punished where and when violated. We must not allow mankind to descend to bestiality. We must not. Not on our watch.

– Emeka Ugbor writes in from Lagos.

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