Once civilization lives on, the search for the correct moral values will forever defy humans. Pope John Paul was adamant that there is a cluster of core values that are absolute. No doubt the former Pope had Nietzsche in mind when he insisted on absolute values. A whole generation was brought up on Nietzsche’s contention that values are relative. But we can see what we want to see in philosophers and use what we want in their writings and discard what we do not like.
Hitler borrowed conveniently from Nietzsche. Fidel Castro borrowed conveniently from Marx. It is doubtful if Marx was alive he would have endorsed the semi-fascist rule of Castro in the name of a workers’ paradise. Nietzsche would have been sickened to death at what Nazi Germany did to his philosophy. Closer reading of Nietzsche on values would reveal he made a complex distinction between moral values, which he argued could only be subjective, and value judgements , which can come close to absolute values. One thing racist minds have in common; they fear absolute values. A school boy can see that Donald Trump believes moral values are relative.
I thought of Nietzsche’s subtle distinction when I read about a known Indian supremacist lecturing the young people of Guyana on the need to be competent on grammar, in a letter that person wrote in the Stabroek News. This person observed; “Our inability to use our official language well to articulate our issues, hopes and desires plays a large part in our continued underdevelopment.” What that person failed to mention, and I believe deliberately so, is that our bigoted attitude to our fellow Guyanese whose culture and ethnicity differ from our own, has not only contributed to our underdevelopment, but the violent, nihilistic destruction of this nation. This person is the vivid embodiment of such an attitude.
Here is a quote from that person who wants us to use words correctly to halt our underdevelopment; “Citizenships can change. I can be Guyanese, or American or Canadian, etc., if I cared to be. But how does one deny or change one’s essential being? I would never negate my Indian self. It is my DNA. It is my history, my legacy, my traditions, my culture. It is my spiritual home. If I ever denied any of it, that would be the real dishonour. And if anyone asked that of me they would be trampling on my guaranteed human, spiritual and constitutional rights.” (unquote).
I read that and got goose bumps all over my body. I read that and thought of what Nazi Germany did to other ethnicities. I read that and remembered what the Hutus did to the Tutsis in Rwanda. Mention of that makes me feel extreme trepidation about Donald Trump becoming President of the USA.
This same person who was obnoxious enough to tell Guyanese about the correct use of words, does not even know to make distinction in the meaning of words when juxtapositions are presented. This impertinent person says that “my Indian self is my DNA.’ That is semantic nonsense. Self is a philosophical term. DNA is a scientific term. DNA and Self are constantly competing for the soul of Homo sapiens. Self is never essential, but constantly changing. Could the human have an essential Self? They could embrace a cluster of values they cling to until death. But what is “the essential Self?
In philosophy it is called “Nature versus Nurture. Your DNA cannot determine what you “essentially” are if you do not want it to be so determined. A person with a certain ethnicity can leave the land of their culture and devote his/herself to the cause and culture of people of other races, giving their lives in the process. Martin Luther King Jr. had white devotees that would have laid down their lives for the civil rights of Black Americans. Mandela chose to ignore DNA and embrace white folks of South Africa. Mahatma Gandhi was killed by a Hindu zealot who rejected his embrace of Muslims.
I remember as a teenager my love for the music of the white, British, hippie singer, Cat Stevens. His worldwide hit, “Wild World” was turned into Caribbean hit tunes done respectively by reggae artists, Jimmy Cliff and Maxi Priest. Stevens in the late eighties became a devout Muslim and is one of Britain’s most recognized Imams. Here is an incandescent manifestation of Self over DNA. We, humans, can choose to be slaves to our DNA if we want to. That person who advises us to use words correctly needs to be advised on the bigoted nonsense they preach in this country.
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