There is a quote that I think I ever saw, paraphrased says “if the only contribution you will make is to tell who belongs and who doesn’t, you may well be part of the problem”. I probably made that up because I have been searching the internet for the quote. Can’t find it. This phrase has popped up several times in my head since I had a conversation with a friend who is persistent in his claims that the issue with Ghana is the church. In his opinion: Ghanaian Christians are to blame for the current state of the nation. I find it challenging in such arguments to present an objective opinion as I am Christian and have benefitted immensely in my personal growth and career from the church.
In our conversation, my friend claimed that if churches were for the good of the nation, why did they not offer their services for free and why did they charge fees for the education or health care of Ghanaians. My counterarguments were that the church needed money to run these institutions, pay teachers and health workers, procure state-of-the-art equipment, etc. My friend’s opinion was that if the church could not run these as free public services financed by the offertory raised during services, then churches should close down. We had to end our conversation because apparently, we both had taken our stands on the subject matter. As he could not convince me otherwise, and I could not convince him otherwise. We ended with each other respecting our opinions and forging on in the thoughts that best served us.
Later, pondering over the arguments, my mind settled on the Akan adage: which paraphrased says “when you point one finger at others, remember the rest are pointing back at you”. It is a very easy thing to point a finger at others. An easy thing to blame others, to quickly identify the misfits and non-conforming in society. I think the part we remain blindsided to is that the other three or four fingers point back at us. Another Akan adage says, “it is only the mislead who says they are referring to others but not me”.
I return to the quote I started with, in the context of the conversation with my friend, and ask why is it so necessary for us to find scapegoats? Why is it so necessary for us to segregate? Why is it important to invest so much time and effort in justifying others as the problem? A wise person once told me “your criticisms are a reflection of yourself“. The things you are quick to identify on others are only a reflection of yourself, and often have nothing to do with those persons.
Some time ago, in a country or in many countries, leaders, groups, people, arose and said this and this particular groups of persons because of this and that are the reasons we are having hard times in this country. So, the solution for those people at that time was to get rid of them. Get rid of the institutions, get rid of the persons, like how we do with pests. Unfortunately, these strategies have been repeated time and time over again. The identification of fault in persons and groups situates the person doing the identification as faultless. Without blame. I call it “blame and sleep”. Blame others and go to bed. Let them fix themselves and all will be good. Because I am good to go. There is indeed a lot of work in getting ourselves in order. No matter how much a pig bathes and polishes up, it has no right to call its parents dirty. Because it was in this dirt it was nurtured, in the dirt that it became who it was, all-knowing, powerful, and sparkly.
There is great courage in accepting oneself as part of the problem because it is only in that step, we find out how we can be part of the solution. It takes a lot of humility to accept to be the cause of a situation even when you are.