By Takudzwa Mazwienduna
There was a time in Zimbabwe when a certain goat had more rights and privileges than the average human citizen. It was not during colonial times if that is what you are thinking, the dictator Robert Mugabe had very little to do with it too. The attitudes and sentiments that led to that craziness still governs most countries today. The Zimbabwean army respected the goat and marched with it whenever there was a national event. The government gave more respect to the goat than it did the average citizen. A Zimbabwean soldier would be honoured and respected if he beat up civilians for expressing their right to freedom of speech or association, but he would get into so much trouble if he harmed this goat in any way.
This instance shows how the integrity and respect for humanity can be lost to pointless beliefs or ideas. Nationalism, religiosity, cultural practices and political totalitarianism are made up human constructs that people elevate above human rights most of the time. A flag is nothing but a piece of cloth, yet a lot of government establishments and even lawmakers value it above freedom of expression, a fundamental human right. Colin Kaepernick lost his career because his right to express his concerns was not valued as much as a song about America. Some people even do time for burning a piece of cloth called the flag and others are segregated against or stoned to death because a “sacred” book demonised them.
Passionately held ideas and beliefs that lack reason or are unsubstantiated pose great dangers to humanity. They have caused most of the major wars in history, from the religious crusades to the Fascist and Nazi world wars. They compromise human morality and harmony yet people rally behind such because they wish to belong.
Such ideas and beliefs rely on people to surrender their identities to their fables so that they appear real. The only reason why nations and religions exist is that people identify with them. These fictional identities even come with character traits that different people condition themselves to subscribe too. It is highly unlikely that every Irishman is an alcoholic and every Christian woman looks forward to marriage. Members of these communities are pressured and conditioned to complement these false narratives and it compromises their individuality. A sovereign nation is likely to infringe on its citizens’ sovereignty just like freedom of religion might compromise freedom from religion if not checked.
The world would be a better place if everyone acknowledges that human beings have rights unlike nations, religions, cultures and beliefs. If we all identify as moral humans first before anything else, we can relate to each other with the utmost respect. Flags and bibles should not be the fabric of our societies. Let us replace them with compassion, reason and progress.