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We need to be brave enough to be different

Sunday August 11 2019

NATIONALISM

In a society that embraces fear as an act of obedience, standing up remains unimaginable and unthinkable. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SCHEAFFER OKORE
By SCHEAFFER OKORE
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Growing up in a society that teaches fear instead of respect is the worst thing that can happen to anyone.

Carefully crafted plans that instil fear like the Kenyan education system is an example.

Usually, an inquisitive and curious learner is castigated for not being fearful of the fact that the teacher knows everything. Then follows the family and social system where the young are to be seen and not heard.

There's barely any phase in growing up when a young person's voice or opinion is genuinely valued. You'd think to go into the world makes this any better.

Eventually, you find yourself a spineless being without actual thoughts or convictions of your own.

This is why I understand that it's hard imagining how someone who grew up learning fear can literally get exhausted.

That they can be so fed up with the systemic subjugation most of us are too afraid to accept leave alone denounce.

OPPRESSION

In a society that embraces fear as an act of obedience, standing up remains unimaginable and unthinkable.

Taking a stand is therefore an act that only mentally questionable, weird, odd and unruly people do. This is because our socialisation doesn't allow us the freedom to chose to be different.

But what if we stopped for a moment and asked what our endurance of fear has helped us with? Has it protected us? Has it made things better or worse?

The thought of standing up and being visible is terrifying, especially knowing that you can never go back to being invisible once you've stood up.

But isn't the Kenya we live in already too terrifying? Isn't it scary that no one's life matters unless they are wealthy?

Isn't is torture to imagine that capable but poor Kenyans will never live in dignity because we're too afraid to be different?

BRAVERY

This right is what I believe is at the crux of bravery. The ability to choose to stand up and say the right thing knowing well it'll make you unpopular and cost you long after what you said has been forgotten.

It is making uncommon choices and daring to support a new way of doing. Being brave is uprooting the biases we hold and letting empathy towards people be our guide, especially when they're unlike us in beliefs, orientations, religions and so on.

It is knowing that no one is born afraid and that the world teaches us how to meticulously and fearfully hide who we are.

The world refuses for us to show up as our full, authentic and wholesome selves giving us countless masks for social camouflage.

However, Audre Lorde reminds us that the same visibility which makes us most vulnerable is also that which is the source of our greatest strength.

And because of this, I ask us to be brave in our pursuit for courage, in our rejection of indignity, in our quest to re-imagine freedom and lastly in our collective humanisation.

The world is suffering from a deficiency of brave people, let this be us.

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