From the Elysium Chronicles – The Evolution of My Feminism

I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to change my corner of the world.  I’ve only seen it change for the worse.  I cannot change the world. I can only change myself. And I cannot change the world with other people’s money either. Unless I want to change it in their image and likeness and right now I don’t like their image and likeness.  Still that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do. Change the world with other people’s money.

I am a libertarian and a laissez faire capitalist. I believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I am also an empathetic and compassionate person. More than anything else in the world I love people, I love being with people, hearing their stories and sharing their lives. I believe all men and women were born equal and have the right to be free of coercion, slavery and repression.

I believe that our freedom and happiness are also personal responsibilities. I do not believe in welfare government or a paternalistic government that takes care of people from cradle to grave. I believe all people, male and female can be what they want to be and who they want to be and must be self-sufficient. I also believe that this right ends where that of the other person begins. I believe communities have the right to self-determination.

I believe that justice is the highest good and injustice the highest evil. I believe hypocrisy to be the only sin and honesty the only virtue. When injustice and hypocrisy are condoned by society we have an evil kingdom. Where the community condones and abets injustice and hypocrisy we have an evil community.  The few with power have appropriated our rights and told us it is a social contract.

My ancestors lived on their land for centuries, then one day the Federal Government of Nigeria wrote a piece of literature and said all land and everything on it and underneath it belongs to them.  They also had the fire power to make it so. My ancestors, the people whose blood flows through my veins knew no one owns the land. The land owns the people. The people are tied to the land; the land is not tied to the people. Does the federal government now own us too? Are we now slaves that must buy back our freedom?

Do not tell me what to do, tell me what you will do. Do not tell me who to be, tell me who you are and I will tell you my story too. Perhaps we will recognize ourselves, perhaps not. I will not and do not want to tell you what to do. All I ask is that you respect my declared boundaries. I will respect yours. If you breach my boundaries I will let you know, let me know yours.  Quietly, respectfully, there really is no need to shout. I can hear you. I will listen to you if you listen to me. Respect my right to self-determination.

In the kingdom of my African ancestors where I come from all people male and female were born equally vulnerable and dependent on those that were here before them. You thanked your mother for not killing you when you were born, for not dropping you on your head, for nurturing you instead of wringing your neck because really you were at her mercy and she was here before you. As you grew your drive, talents, skills, intelligence and your audacity determined your rank in the pecking order. Even women and girls. It was a meritocracy albeit a brutal meritocracy.

If you were strong you were hailed, if you were weak you were jeered, whether male or female. Strength and weakness had peculiar attributes, peculiar to a forest dwelling people.  Strength was the power, will and mind to compete as ruthlessly as necessary to come first. There was no empathy for the weak and those that came last. It was said that was their chi, their fate, their destiny, their personal God.  I learnt love from my Mother.

What does love then mean to me? It’s not that wave of emotion I feel when I look at something or someone, that’s endorphins or dopamine.  It will pass.  It’s not even what I feel for my children, I adore my kids. Most of us do. Literally setting them up as little idols and demi-gods we either worship or brutalize into submission. That’s an emotion. Love like my friend always says is a verb.

Love is what you do and it acts honestly and justly. Honestly, I should have made my adult children move out long ago, instead I subsidized them for  as long as I could. I hope they haven’t become lazy and complacent as a result.  After all I was younger than them now when I moved out on my own, the economy was just as bad then to hear my father say it. There would be no injustice, they are adults and supposed to be self-reliant whatever the environmental conditions.

My adoration of them said “Oh no, the big bad world is too dangerous, come let me protect you”. Lolo Ahunwa would slap me upside the head.  The male ancestors would say disdainfully “Leave her she’s a woman” to explain my sentimentality.  I’m glad I did it eventually without much of the conflict I sometimes witness in other families. I know they’ll be al-right just like I was. I instilled them with all my values.

The Universe and Nature act love, the oneness of the Universe is love, the interdependence and interaction of each speck in the Universe is love, a dance of love. When there is an imbalance in the Universe love sets it right. For instance I laugh at the arrogance of the climatologists, climate change will not destroy the Earth, it will destroy mankind, the threat to Earth. The Earth will heal in a couple million years, a day in the long history of the Universe.

I don’t believe in any of the Gods you worship because surely ‘God’ is greater than anyone of them and all of them combined.  If there is a God but you know what? It doesn’t matter to me really if there is or isn’t.  It wouldn’t really change who I am and if God is love I have learnt much from my mothers.

This is my feminism.  It is individual and it serves the communal, it is independent and recognizes our interdependence, it is a tough love and it can be cozily sentimental too.  Most of all it is objective, honest, self-reliant and just.

July 21, 2012

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