Tue, Feb

I Was Not Made Like This; It Was Forced On Me

Thoughts From Afar
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These bootlicking zombies go out guns blazing attacking anyone in their wake, stopping at nothing to even countenance reason and think that others should quiver.

“There are two kinds of idiots - those who don't take action because they have received a threat, and those who think they are taking action because they have issued a threat.” Paulo Coelho in “The Devil and Miss Prym”

In the early 1950’s childhood leukaemia was ravaging, any child who contracted it died; bleeding through all orifices of their body in a gruesome manner that confused haematologists and cancer specialists of the time. Most patients were made comfortable and just left to die. In the view of conventional wisdom and medical authority it was the law of natural selection. However, one doctor Emil Jay Freireich thought differently. In his view there was more to the unexplained bleeding than met the eye. Together with another colleague James F. Holland they set off to stop the bleeding so they could stand a dogs chance of identifying the underlying condition and fashion out a treatment. He came to the conclusion that to stop the bleeding, they first needed to reintroduce blood from donors. This sounded like madness. To the conventional thinker it was simply crazy to pour scarce blood into a leaking body. He persisted and went on with it and guess what, the bleeding stopped. Thanks to them, today we know that bleeding in leukaemia is the result of the body’s immune system attacking platelets; the blood cells responsible for prevent bleeding.

The above didn’t happen in isolation, Freireich was threatened with dismissal by his employers, heckled by his peers at colloquia and symposiums and shunned by house officers and nurses. He was reported to the Food and Drugs Authority of the United States and was under threat of being struck off the medical register. Yet, he kept his counsel and plodded on anyway. Rather than stop at this, he set off, having gained the trust of another colleague Emil Frei to treat the underlying cause of leukaemia. Their view was that the only way to rid the body of cancerous cells was to use a mixture of cancer drugs medically termed cocktails. He failed at getting approval for his latest craze from the medical ethics committee. To them, it was against conventional wisdom to make a child who had survived a bout of bleeding sick again through chemotherapy in an effort to make them permanently well. Again the threats and bullying started, he soldiered on anyway. Today, the cure rate for childhood leukaemia is more than 90% and Freireich, although elderly is still employed as Ruth Harriet Ainsworth Chair, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Director of Adult Leukaemia Research Program, and Director of Special Medical Education Programs, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas. The mainstream that ostracised him now quake at his achievement.

Threats have been used as a means of stifling opposing views for as long as man has existed. Many of the advances of humankind have been achieved because few have been conscientious enough to follow their convictions, defying the noise and following their beliefs. These beliefs are called intuitions. Since 1992 when Ghana chose to try the experiment of democracy, threats have been at the forefront of our politics. On occasion, these threats have boiled on and erupted into open violence; resulting sometimes in deaths. However, in our country too, some men and women of valour have stood up, ignoring the threats and forced through significant change.

Based on this history, I had always thought that the use of threats will dwindle or become non-existent with time. Sadly, I was wrong. Today, threats are the mainstay of our body politics to the point that many feel that's the only option when their political views are subjected to scrutiny. This is particularly true for the governing NPP and the NDC opposition. Some of their partisans have become extremely obnoxious and repugnant, ignoring the need for intellectual intercourse and its relevance to our national development.

These bootlicking zombies go out guns blazing attacking anyone in their wake, stopping at nothing to even countenance reason and think that others should quiver. The sad truth is that these apologists fail to realise that some are too afraid of being afraid to the point that threats mean nothing to them. They are like David and though at a considerable advantage are conversant with the anomalies of conventional wisdom and understand why all see Goliath, a giant with clear signs of acromegaly and challenged eyesight as being at an advantage. To people like that, the buzz of being the underdog is what drives them; it keeps them sane with the adrenaline rush keeping their hearts ticking. In this state, their brains work and enable them to perfect their art and continue challenging conventional wisdom.

At the same time, the partisans lose the brains load their artillery and fire more bombs. Their actions akin to the Germany blitz that engulfed London in World War II but failed to threaten Londoners into submission. Rather, it achieved the opposite and produced many remote misses, who then became the critical mass that eventually joined the fight storming Normandy on D-Day and eventually contributed to the defeat of Germany. Similar near misses are turning otherwise passive Ghanaians into activist prepared to confront the partisan nonsense. In their view, partisanship noises will not trump over the need for intellectual national discourse. Even more invigorating is that many in this new group come from both NPP and NDC.

This conquering of fear is creating a group now prepared to speak up and damn the consequence. This new crop is turning into many but the partisans seem to ignore them, thinking appealing to their base and getting cheered on will drown the ugly noises of this evolving middle. However, the exhilaration that their newfound freedom brings leads them into a world where they experience the mother and father of all courage. They suddenly realise the lunacy of both types of idiots and wonder why they had procrastinated all this while. 

Whilst at it, they have come to the realisation that, “courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.” These are the men and women making their voices heard increasingly on electronic, print and social media on all issues Ghanaian. These are the Ghanaians that give me hope and make me feel the partisan stranglehold will gradually be broken.  These Ghanaians were clearly not made like this, they were originally very docile and passive and part of the Ghanaian problem of non-confrontation. Sadly, through the upheavals and change and the gerrymandering of our political elite and the wanton misbehaviour of foot soldiers in the twenty-six years of Ghana's Fourth Republic; their new courage has been forced on them. Let those with eyes see this group and not behave like the conventionalist of 1950's the United States who did everything to stifle Emil Jay Freireich but failed, for they will also fail. Partisanship will never win, that thought is a farce.

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