Beyond its logic, which this piece will underscore in a short while as coherent, consistent and inherently sound lies a convinced attempt to justify suicide as extensionally apt and inferentially justified unless the agent or subject wishes to call the bluff of the absurdity, ab initio, that is written all over human existence. I have written an earlier article denying whatever value that we as human beings might care to allot to living a long life. If no one never asked to be born such that being born is perceived as an event that one should ever be grateful or thankful for (certainly not to the parents since their joint action is unarguably selfish), then what right might exist for anyone to hold on to such accidental conscription against all odds and at all cost?
What is the worth of living an utterly dependable parasitic vegetative life? Where may we place the merit of living on when the individual can no longer recognize faces around him or her, remember names of close relations, name his or her actual location, remember what the last meal was or, in the least, unable to attend by him or herself to basic hygiene needs? What serious reasons in fact might a culture put forward to justify her standing in praise of longevity? I refer specifically, to the African culture, where there is good suspicion that perhaps the people might simply be oblivious of the worries and quarries raised above and just in case they are not, then maybe such worries are considered irrelevant, redundant and insignificant.
Using the Yoruba community, about which I have a fairly good knowledge, as a case in point, the Yoruba love living and they know how to live life to the hilt. From conception till death, there is something always for the people to be merry about and the ceremonies are generally large, loud and very expensive. Even when you do not have the means, you go borrowing. Specifically regarding staying on in the world, every year may be marked with some celebrations but a great meal is made of years forty, fifty, seventy and one hundred. Same goes for naming ceremonies, engagements, weddings and funerals. With regards to funerals, it is not uncommon to have large outings in memory of long dead parents underscoring still their love of life and living and a clear positive sign of their disposition on longevity. Typical obituary announcements include proclamations of “Celebration of Life” and declarations “Of a life well spent” not minding that the deceased, besides his/her case of chronic senility, actually lived a dependable vegetative life of uncut fifteen years inflicting deadly financial blows on the condemned relations who, with presumably inaudible murmur and existential discomfort, must stoically await the final exit.
We would of course not grudge the Yoruba or any other African community for that matter where there exist still a stubborn affection for life and living at all costs and against all odds. Every culture is free to interpret the realities that confront it in whatever way it deems fit regardless of stiff charges by outside onlookers of irrationality or plain stupidity. The choice option to live in bad faith and, in existential parlance, live inauthentically is always legitimately attractive and open both to individuals and corporate entities for adoption since it offers convenient excuses and makes thinking for oneself unnecessary. The thesis of this article is however larger than a simple reference to any continent, nationality or community. It derives specifically from the idea of shared human universals one of which is the fact of being born or being thrust without consent into existence. Even when the argument for the unreasonableness of human existence may be made and established without contradiction convinced that it is one that ultimately leads nowhere safe the ad hoc improvisations with which we pretend that some meanings exist, the very fact of our contingent nature, ab initio, makes all humans instantiations unnecessary and therefore superfluous. In sum, we need not be here; we need not exist. To put it in another way, the universe will not miss a thing if we never existed.
Even when we grant the fact of human existence, what is being argued consequent upon it is that by the very nature of human essence which forms the ground of our being, human life is by itself always a projection towards suicide. On the one hand, there is the will to live and survive on finding ourselves marooned in the world. So soon however, the futility of even this desire hits us in the face since our birth actually marks the beginning of a definitive inescapable dying process. What is worse, there is nothing that we can do about it. We cannot stop the hour glass from running. As the human being lives his/her every day, he/she is dying to the extent that it is quite appropriate to declare that living is dying in slow motion.
Only a tiny option is therefore left for man against choosing to kill himself because from the moment of birth, apart from the discomforting realization of the generic superfluity of his instantiation, even in existence, the individual is methodically denied the freedom to live courtesy of other people’s dictates and those by phantom society. The actual heroes therefore, if truth must be told, are not those who live according to the dictates and rules that are external to them but those who live and choose for themselves even as they are convinced that human existence is a journey to nowhere; a cull de sac.
So a child is born. Good news that the mother did not die delivering the baby. Good news too albeit selfish, that finally this woman hitherto scorned as barren and unfruitful has finally removed the yoke and stigma of shame. Good news of course too for the Pastor who will now take a bow and take the credit of being a hot miracle worker deserving of tithes and thanksgiving proceeds.
Olajide wrote from Department of philosophy, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti.
Bad news however for the baby who was forced out of the peaceful environment of the uterus into a hot and noisy world where he/she is seized by the midwife from the minute he/she pops out and from there on passed around from one choking embrace to another. In the meantime, he/she must henceforth suck on the mother’s breasts to survive. She must work if she must eat and if she refuses she dies. Even when the baby refuses, he/she, where the food is available and there is love and care, such a headstrong specimen is force fed. His freedom, as if he is thought to have any, is thus so very early stifled. Whatever could count as his choice is made irrelevant and his will impotent and ineffective.
The denial saga within human existence changes in its patterns, forms and intensity as the years pile on. What remains constant however is the art of deliberate denial of the will of the individual to be himself or herself by systems, institutions and persons, to freely choose to be or not to be, to live or not to live. Like the conscripted felon that he is, he must always obey the masters’ voice and bend to the collective whims. The voice could indeed be velvet, subtly clothed in fine silk, with all the trappings of aristocracy and class. It could sometimes be oversaturated with strange beliefs and irrational traditions. Whichever the case may be, the voice is always that of deliberate denial, the refusal of the will and choice of the individual to live or not to live; to be whoever and whatever he wants to be and to be free.
This groundswell refusal, put in another way, is having to be told always what to do what to think; how to perceive things and with what dispositions and biases, which values to absorb and which to treat with distaste, what goals to pursue and how to be a man or a woman; what definitions and measures of success to embrace and how to recognize and define failure, which carrier to pursue and which to shun; how to be the first, how best to lead the parade and win awards and medals, what religious beliefs to adopt, which God to serve and which values to parade. In sum, these are pressures and measures forcefully aimed at denying the individual the will to live and be himself or herself. It is an unrepentant proclamation that one really does not matter; after all, the individual played no part whatsoever in his or her coming into existence.
This then is the burden and callous fate of human existence. It is bad enough that being born is unsolicited. It is even worse that being born is never a favour but a harmful initiative or shall we simply say, a great disservice since nothing lasts. Human life is brief and whatever is described as gains and successes eventually evaporate brutishly with death reducing all human efforts and struggles to zero. Except for those of course who subscribe to the luxury of faith and have been persuaded to look forward to a face to face reunion celebration with God in heaven, human preoccupation when laid bare remains agonisingly absurd and meaningless.
There is, it would seem then from above, a knitted conspiracy by all erected human institution to deny every man or woman the right, freedom and joy to live their brief moment in the sun as they truly desire. Seniors in the Garden of Eden offer no respite. Their choice of freedom and disobedience earned them prompt expulsion and death. Many, as we speak, will thus never find or experience the joy, peace, the happiness and freedom of choosing the tinniest wish for themselves even when they succeed pleasing their parents, pastors, teachers and guardians. This human conspiracy invariably suffocates as there is practically no room left for the discerning individual to breath. In comes then a sense of self loathing and self hatred, an outright failure of self esteem. When it is so crushing, refusing and rejecting Camusean austere message that in the absence of hope we must struggle on to survive, the last jot of excusable authentic freedom is to will and choose exit.
Olajide wrote from Department of philosophy, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti.