“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrity. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.”
Everyday, I tell myself, James, it does not matter how many people believe in you and believe you, it doesn’t matter how many people share your deep-rooted convictions, it doesn’t matter how many people read your writings today and laugh at its ‘simplicity’. No, it doesn’t matter how many people stand aloof and dismiss every move as ‘impossible’. What matters and what will count in the long run is that conviction, anger backed up with action and clear-headed planning.
I can imagine people tried to stop Mandela and call him mad. They must have asked him why he couldn’t just shut up, play along and live. “Common, you have a beautiful wife. You’re earning a good pay. There’ll always be less privileged people. You can’t wipe away all the ills in the world.” But he pressed on. It wasn’t as if the brutality, arrests and incaceration were easy; but he pressed on until victory. Little wonder he declared, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”
Remember Fela? Now that was a privileged fella. He had his certificate. He was from a well-to-do family. He had a popular band called “Kola Lobito”. He could have become another Wasiu Ayinde, Osupa or Pasuma, but after reading the Authobiography of Malcolm X, his life will never be the same. His thinking, his courage, his songs, his vision and even the people he associated with will never be the same. They could have asked him why he couldn’t just shut up. “Must you talk?” They must have asked him. Maybe that was why he sang, “Basket mouth wan start to leak again o”. Oh! They must have called him names: “Weed smoker, profane, shameless, womaniser.” But it didn’t stop him. That is why today he is remembered by the world while they have faded into history’s dustbin.
Fidel Castro and Che. Fidel, a well to do lawyer. Che, a medical doctor. What an odd combination! Yet these men forsook the comforts of their safety nets to fight for the liberation of the majority. People could have asked them, “What has got into you? You have it all. What else do you need? Che, have you forgotten you’ve got asthma? How the hell are you supposed to cope in the jungle living a guerilla’s life? Common, before the government army gets to you, the cold with your asthma will kill you.” After they were ambushed by government forces and were reduced to 15, and yet they kept on moving, people could have made that quote, “Who the gods want to kill, they first make mad.” But they kept on all the same. Today, Cuba is free because of their sacrifice.
Ideas that shape the world, discoveries that ulter societal norms and established stands, writings that take the world by storm and never leave it the same way are seldom accepted initially. It is not because those views are impossible; its because weak minds do not even want to think of anything that will take them out of their comfort zones or that will prove wrong everything they knew to be right.
That a view or stand is termed impossible now means little in the long run. Your mind may have conceived something that the little minds will take a 100 years to form. It took the world decades to agree with the truths in Karl Marx’s writings and to see the things he saw; it wasn’t their fault, he was ahead of them by years. So, don’t drag or argue with them; they deserve your love, care and understanding. Help them get there by never allowing yourself to be pulled down or allowing your enthusiasm to be dampened.
Now, whether or not we are remembered will be determined by our actions and inactions. 30, 40, 50 years from now, it won’t matter whether you were a socialist, capitalist or just a good citizen, what will matter is what you helped change, what you helped create, who breathed freer because of you, who can afford to go to school because you took a stand. If we do not take a stand now, we will be tossed like all the other spineless ones before us, into the dustbin of history.