One of the things we constantly seem to debate is who is right or who is wrong. What side of an argument is morally right? Who holds the moral high ground in a difference of opinion? We seem to suggest that inherent in humanity is something irretrievably humane. We seem to suggest, if even only subconsciously, that if we search long enough, we will find the world’s moral compass embedded in one side of the artificially constructed divide.
The world has no moral compass. An illusion of a moral compass has been created by those political entities which have enough power to obscure their deep malevolence behind a mask of warm benevolence. Morality and humaneness used to justify a show of absolute might and force. No. If any humaneness exists, it inhabits pockets in human hearts and occasional individual human deeds.
Southern states and their citizens often decry the history of the Northern states as a history infused with violence against the Global South. Declaring the Global North as perpetually morally suspect. However, Southern states have moulded themselves a makeshift mask of false benevolence, a distorted replication of those they decry. From Otodo Gbame to Rakhine State, from Marikana to Kibera, we see the grotesque mask slipping and the replicated malevolence showing through, with a mouth hungry for blood and glassy, dead, greedy eyes, uncaring of all that is human. Speaking only destruction.
Our problem, of course is that we fail to learn the lessons of history. Lesson one: All history is subjective. What is told of history depends on who is telling it. The telling of history is never value free. History is often the act of selected remembering, of selected forgetting. Decolonisation movements ask us to strip back the false masks of benevolence and ‘unforget‘ the malevolence. To remember the horrors. That happened. If we decolonise by replacing the previous with the present and do not question the power structure that masks the bestial with the benign, then we do not decolonise. We do not uncover the reality of humanity, which is the persistent potential to do violence to each other. We merely fashion for ourselves a nicer looking mask, a more acceptable covering to hide the continuing horrors that are the manifestations of inequities of power. The power structures that have skewed violence North to South and enable Southern states to visit violence on Southern citizens for the benefit of the powerful and not the people. This is not decolonisation. Decolonisation interrogates power. Decolonisation is for the people.
The world has no moral compass, because embedded in the social structure of the world are power structures that privilege power over piety. Indubitably, we live in a dominator culture.
bell hooks, describes ‘dominator culture’ thus:
“Dominator culture teaches all of us that the core of our identity is defined by the will to dominate and control others. …. In the dominator model the pursuit of external power, the ability to manipulate and control others, is what matters most. When culture is based on a dominator model, not only will it be violent but it will frame all relationships as power struggles.”
bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love(Atria Books, 2004) 115
Think about that. All relationships as power struggles. All.
Nevertheless. Nevertheless. We the people, have enough humanity to bring about the change that we seek. The change that we want. The change that we need. Because real change always comes from the people. Always comes from the bottom up. Power corrupts when concentrated at the top. True power belongs to the people, who can bring about real change. With compassion. We, the people. We are the compass. With compassion.