It Takes More Than Courage To Challenge Institutions… BY AGBA JALINGO

In Breaking News, Opinion

Courage may be simply explained as the ability to go ahead and do something that frightens you or the capacity to maintain strength in the face of pain and grief. There are quite a number of people out there who have no qualms taking such risks. The world has seen very many of such in different spheres and more are on their way to astound us all with their incredible adrenaline. After all, we have seen people jumping free fall from outer space back to our planet Earth.

But it requires more than courage to take on institutions that were created ab initio, to control society. Namely: Government institutions, Religious cum Spiritual institutions, Traditional institutions, Professional associations, and Social affiliations. You require something more than courage. Courage alone will not last you the whole hug. Courage can be spontaneous and prompt. Courage can be a stunt in the face of imminent danger. Courage can also be deceptive. Therefore, when challenging institutional inanities, courage can only be one of several ingredients that are required for accurate shots.

I don’t need to belabor myself to let you know the possible consequences of challenging or scrutinizing the government. The whole organs of government and her apparatchik, from the military to the civic, from the visible to the nonvisible, will be deployed against you in a manner that courage alone will not suffice. Yours sincerely is a living witness of such deployment. In summary, I was so haunted that I actually became the first ever person since Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914, that a masquerade came to court to testify against me after a federal judge granted leave for my secret trial. I need a producer to even turn that into a movie.

Religious and Spiritual Institutions are one of the major control centers of society. Not a few businesses and even empires survive today only because of their affiliation with this axis. Apart from the personal satisfaction that we think we derive from those places, we must not be ignorant of their control buttons. So powerful are these centers that once they isolate or label you, even the most wicked of the society who hasn’t suffered your fate, will become more righteous before his or her brethren, while you are villainized. Everyone powerful in government, from the police to the military, to the para-military, to the courts, to the parliament to the bureaucracy, belongs to one or the other places of worship and spirituality. Once the religious or spiritual caste is able to tag you, all their pressure buttons in government and elsewhere are activated to drain you in a manner that courage alone cannot rehydrate.

It is the same case with traditional institutions. These institutions were hitherto, infallible and subjects were barred from ever scrutinizing them. They are inherently regarded as unquestionable. They control our lives and society. Taking on them requires much more than just courage and the audacity to swim in tempest-tossed waters.

Professional associations have been described by some scholars as intellectual prison yards. Not so much for the good they avail, but so much for the strings of control that they pull. They are conundrums curated by the most brilliant amongst us, for peer review and societal control. For instance, even after training and gaining qualifications as a lawyer, the bar association can stop you from practicing if they so collectively wish, under any guise. Challenging these elitist associations of like minds really requires much more than courage.

Then talk about social affiliations. Human beings are gregarious by nature. We are sociable and fond of company. We practically cannot exist without associating with our kind. We want to belong to age grades, clubs, unions, gender groups, etc. Civil society has been able to calibrate these rungs also for societal cohesion and control. There are some of these social clubs that are even more powerful than political parties and government institutions. They wield so much power and control that courage alone will fail you if you choose to turn your barrel on their shenanigans.

So in the face of these towering axes of societal control, courage is the junior brother to long-suffering, forbearance, perseverance, and a determined end goal. While courage may be spontaneous, the others are not. While courage is crucial, the others are indispensable. When courage evaporates along the road, you will require the deliberate desire for long-suffering, patience, and the capacity to persevere and forbear, to cross the lonely road where courage is scarce or unavailable. But all of these can only be possible if you have been to the mountaintop and seen the promised land. If you have perceived the end goal. If you have a clear destination in mind. If that is missing, all others will have clay feet.

Good morning!

Citizen Agba Jalingo is the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch and a rights activist, a Cross Riverian, and writes from Lagos.

NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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