HUMANITY VS HUMANNESS?

 

Recently Oxfam top officials were nabbed for having assaulted Haitian women after the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010 and the world was more than outraged.

I mean how could the so called good Samaritan turn on his vows and become the proverbial fox in sheep’s clothing, right?

Well, I wasn’t surprised not in the least bit that those officials did that, at least not surprised at who you would expect. I was shocked at the Haitian government. Why? Well because they should have supervised these supposed good ‘Samaritans’ better, always. After all they are humans and humans are always that much closer to doing bad things.

Furthermore, these were probably rich white men assaulting poor, probably younger beautiful ( yes I added that) black women I mean it doesn’t take a genius to realize the crazy power dynamic and racial structure interacting in those kinds of situations. In fact with the history of black women and white men what would surprise me is if the women weren’t assaulted.

Here’s why.

I have felt of late that there is a profound confusion of understanding when humanity and humanness are concerned hence the adverse reaction. I mean if someone is assaulted by a known rapist for example, people will be upset but not outraged because I mean this is a known thug but when it’s a volunteer for Oxfam doing the assault then ‘upset’ quickly morphs into outrage. Why?

Because people oft expect those in the endeavors of what I will call ‘humanity’ which for the purposes of this conversation I define as the purest, best parts of humans, the sides of us that tend to justice, beauty and love, abandon their humanness at the door. Well, newsflash, they don’t.

Humanness is the repertoire of a human’s being and humanity is just another category in this. It also includes the viler, more repugnant sides of each and every one of us. This confusion that those enacting their humanity lack their humanness is a grievous mistake that happens again and again.

Another example I have seen is that of the infamous Pablo Escobar who catapulted the world into a  level of narco-terrorism that we have never seen before and might likely never see again. This is the man who killed scores of law abiding citizens just to puff out his chest and yet he also built entire neighbourhoods for the poor, a truly altruistic act, yes?

Wrong.

It was just a human act. In it the forces of humanness interact, for one he really did want to help the poor in Colombia and that is his humanity but he also wanted to recruit supporters in his schemes if he ever needed them and the poor and lowly are the easiest to catch.

So there it goes, it wasn’t a bad act or a good one, it was just a human act. That’s because humanness is every bit as much a miracle as it is a malediction and it’s like this with everything. And humans know it too, that’s why we have created structures to police and contain the more unsavoury parts of our humanness. Religions, Legal sytems hell even marriage, that’s what that is all about and that’s why uncontained power is always a dangerous thing because that means a level of humanness is left unchecked.

This is why I was shocked at the Haitian government for giving these so called ‘NGOs’ free rein to do what they want because the truth of the matter is a human always needs supervision, no matter what.

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THE SIN OF ASSIMILATION.

 

The first time I ever encountered the term, assimilation I think was somewhere in a Social Studies textbook when I was in Standard 5 or so. It was something the French colonialists practiced in their African colonies. In fact at the time I thought, huh, what a wonderful opportunity. It made me even regard the French as the more sympathetic of all the Europeans who colonized African nations right?

At least they gave us a chance to be ‘better’ than our primitive barbarian selves right?

The next time I heard of this strange term, assimilation, it was with regards to immigrants in The States wherever they are from be it The Middle East, South America or African and you will notice Africa will be a very recurrent feature in this article. Notice I didn’t say Europe.

This is when I got a taste of just how insidious, this ‘assimilation’ is. Because it requires you to learn a different language under the guise that you’ll be more of an ‘international citizen’ or whatever, adopt another culture’s mannerisms, sometimes even warm you up to another culture’s predominant religion or face one of the worst things a human being can encounter, disrespect.

And for sure there is no real problem in embracing another culture, even I speak really good English and I don’t necessarily hate that. The issue arises only when the embrace of the other culture comes at the expense of your own culture.

And this is the really insidious part of this ‘assimilation’ business. It just follows the theory of ‘the failure of success’ which is that if you spend all your time mastering another’s language, culture, mannerisms and modes of worship what about your own? Assimilating is always in direct competition with embracing your own culture, so who wins? Since we are in fact bound by time and space.

And with the dawn of the global community, it seems sometimes that you don’t even need to immigrate to have to assimilate. From here in Kenya I have assimilated much more than was ever necessary. And for what? Because surely I can appreciate another’s culture without having to completely embrace it in my entire being. Right?

And what assimilation really does is just to emphasize and reinforce imaginary social status quo, things like blacks are less than whites, women are less able than men, stupid social stratification that doesn’t even make any sense because you will notice the indigenous peoples of nations that tend to be richer or more powerful never need to assimilate only the minorities need to. And I’ll ask again, for what?

The really interesting thing about assimilation is that it can happen entirely without your knowledge because the world is rigged for and against some and for us who walk into it blindly after these structures were already in place it can be hard to know when it is actually happening. Things like black women constantly straightening their hair despite the fact that it is by far the farthest thing from their natural kinky locks and that the practice damages their hair too, women battling with men in the work place to do the same kind of jobs in the exact same way as if the two were competitors while in reality the two are more compliments.

Assimilation forces us to chug down the corrupt social structure embedded into the world with a smile on our faces. I mean, does it really get any crueler than that? And alas the plot thickens.

The worst effect by far that I have seen of assimilation has got to be the number of cultures that have fallen prey to it. How many things have we forgotten from our own unique cultures while busily trying to embrace these other dominant cuture? How much diversity of culture has the world been robbed of? And this seems an issue for the descendants of these so called ‘forgotten’ cultures but you would be wrong, this is an attack on everyone because culture is for everyone. This is akin to say if all of Michelangelo Carravagio’s paintings were lost all of a sudden. That is of concern to me too even though I am not the least bit Italian or even European because culture is for everyone.

The good news is though that culture doesn’t make people, people make culture and we can make more culture to replace even that which was lost.

 

Why we don’t need an explanation for art?

 

I dare say I am a sort of artist myself after all I do write poetry, articles maybe even some philosophical thoughts here and there and I guess these works can be termed as ‘art.’

So then comes the challenge when you produce a ‘piece of art’ and the recipient who should technically be the whole world also known as ‘anyone else’ comes across it and is uniquely puzzled as to what you meant to do in the first place.

I have heard many wonder and say, ‘why not just explain it?’ Claiming that they are simply too tired to wade into the artist’s abstractions or the danger that we may get it all wrong. And to this I say NO! Art mustn’t be explained!

And I take this stance because I suspect the whole process and definition of art and artists is confused.

To begin with I think, most see art as a form of communication between the artist and the receiver and to that I totally disagree. Art is not ‘ordinary communication’ it is what I would call ‘co-operative communication.’

This is because I think at the crux of art is co-operation and I even disregard that there is an artist and a recipient. When confronting art both are the artist and the recipient. Why do I say this?

Well it is because I think art is a live process. I will use the example of a poem, an art form I am very well acquainted with. The poem is not completed when the poet finishes writing it. This is because when a reader reads it they give it life, they give it meaning, their own meaning, the shared meaning, sometimes even a new meaning. Every time you wear a designer bag paired with an ensemble from your closet you are adding onto the original designer’s vision.  You are interpreting it and it will be reinterpreted and interpreted again and again. By perceiving art you add on to the artist’s work and by so doing you become an artist yourself.

Art is not the sculpture, the portrait, the designer dress or the poem. It is what it incites, the values it upholds, what it stands for. Art is essentially a conversation between two artists be they eras apart, nations apart or whatever else it may be that separates them. Art is the meaning that is discovered, rediscovered even re-moulded over and over again.

Art doesn’t stop it goes on and on unless the artist stops the process by deciding the meaning and thus ending the conversation. The conversation of art can go on for centuries between various different people but only if they are given the chance.

What an interpretation of art does is it truncates the conversation’s lifespan. It asserts the authority of the feelings of the first artist and forces all other artists that come into contact with it later on to either agree with that definition or accept that is simply ‘not their style.’ This by the way is simply not the spirit of art even in the least, this rigid restrictive view.

And after all that you can still wonder, what if you’ve tried to understand a piece of art work and you simply cannot and are desperate for an explanation. I would still advise against it because that is precisely the opinion of one who has had art explained to them before, one who thinks they can’t relate, one who doesn’t want to do the introspective sometimes painful work to decide for themselves what that piece of work means to them, whatever that may be.

Art is the sacred connective tissue between two artists, and it should remain as such. The conversation should be stretched and added to for as long as it is possible among an infinite number of artists but what must never happen is truncation.

What in the hell is hell?

You know all through my life my religious CV has read so many different things. Atheist, Agnostic, Idiot, Catholic and irreligious among many others as you can probably imagine. Currently I’m on polytheist agnostic. Don’t ask.
Okay fine, ( I heard your sigh) as the name suggests it means one who believes in more than one religion but of course it’s me so there’s a twist. I only believe in all religions on the things they agree on_the core principles not the superficial glossy rituals and stories about God knows who did what where. For me those are all just fairy tales I just read them to obtain the moral of the story, I’m an African so obviously I’m big on the moral of the story. Moreover, I don’t believe in any of the religions in their entirety, hence the ‘agnostic’ part because and this is important, no one knows who is right about this ‘who is the creator’ business that’s why we call it belief because we can’t prove we are right. And more importantly who cares, just believe and follow the properties of good humanness and you should be well on your way. Right!
So by now I am sure you know I’m as confused as confused gets, in fact I’ve been accused of being an atheist who just likes the wisdom in holy books and to that I’ll say. You’re half right, philosophy is my life and a lot of it is in said holy books so what did you expect, but I do believe there is a God and in the Socratic spirit of knowing that I don’t know, I’m just boobsy (‘ballsy’ the term can’t be used here for obvious reasons so this is what I could come up with) enough to admit that I know there is a God but of course I don’t know what ‘God’ is like. That’s like a computer telling a human he knows what humanity is. Please computer, go back to your binary hell! Why are we so afraid of just saying, ‘shit man I don’t know. Ask the evangelical idiot on TV, just remember to carry an extra thousand, even though the encounter will probably cost you your belief in humanity.’
There’s a saying where I come from, my corrupted take on it, ‘kutojua si ujinga.’ That’s what I mean when I say if you don’t know you don’t know,it doesn’t mean you’re not dumb you just don’t happen to know.
Anyway from the pointless story above, it’s clear to see that I have a true love hate relationship with religion. I am always trying to warm up to it even though my nature is cold to its touch and at the top of my religious kill list is ‘hell’. Every time I think about religion and how warm that makes me I remember oh there’s hell too and I snap out of it.
And the shocker is that my major objection to ‘hell’ doesn’t even stem from the fact that I’ve been reading Dante’s harrowing DC or watching ‘The Good Place’, like everything worth anything it’s from my childhood.
It’s actually from my mom although I think if she knew she’d promptly invent the time machine and return to the past and never ever mention what she mentioned to me, she is always urging me to improve my relationship with God after all and I’ll admit this I do try, even though my spirit is rigid and not really capable of doing any more than I already am. The things we do to please our parents.
Anyway a long time ago she casually mentioned to me that she doesn’t believe in hell. And of course being the curious nut I am I was like ‘why mom why?’ She gave me the most poetic answer I have ever, or will ever get form her EVER, ‘dear daughter because all suffering ends here, earth is hell and purgatory combined.’(She totally didn’t say ‘dear daughter’ i was just upping the ante, it was epic regardless.) Now you have to understand that I wasn’t a very precocious child and I blew past the answer not realizing what it would mean to me.
But the more I grew and evolved and was hit by the bullshit of life I came to unearth the memory of that tiny speech and totally embrace its idea. In fact this is why I am unusually comfortable with the idea of death. Life is good don’t get me wrong, I’m just saying that so that you don’t accuse me of being Sartre’s spirit child (I love his logic but hate his conclusions, again don’t ask, I prefer Camus anyway) but you can kind of agree life is hell and purgatory combined.
So the next question is obviously then what in the hell is hell? For what purpose does it serve exactly?
You know when I think of bad experiences I think of purification. Bad experiences purify us for the good that is to come, just how losing your virginity hurts so you can get to the wonderful orgasms later (although not all vaginas are built the same so don’t quote me) or a less erotic example how childbirth hurts so that you can get to the wonderful tiny human flailing on your breast.
Pain is always just pissing at a rest stop so that you can rid yourself of the toxins before you reached the promised destination, clean and all. And this is my issue with hell, it defies the rule that bad experiences and pain are a means, because underlying the concept of hell is the proposition that pain is an end in and of itself. I can’t reconcile this. God would never do this to us.
And it’s not that I don’t comprehend the argument that hell is what you do to you, if you live badly you deserve it. I totally get that, the thing is, that’s human logic not God logic. We are the ones who torture people who killed our families, enact death penalties, literally telling each other to ‘go to hell’. Not God. At least i think not.
God logic would never do that. (I know, pretty big statement given that I am the very same supposed agnostic from a few sentences ago who doesn’t know God’s nature, well… He lets me know little things like that sometimes, remember this is the same guy(God) who left what 99 sheep to look for one, and it wasn’t even extra fluffy or anything just a regular old dumb arse sheep that did what sheep do best, get lost. So I’m not far off, you’ll see.) To God we are never irredeemable, no matter what we are or what we do. And Christians actually say this a lot, how there is nothing we can do to make God love us any less and hell I believe it! Naive as that sounds.
I am not saying push the limit by doing all the worst stuff imaginable to test this theory, you’ll probably just feel really bad but do you see how if that is true then hell is not possible. The after-life has to be all heaven.
Pain and suffering should always be temporal not ends, Right?
And I know this is not an original idea, in fact just the other day a friend sent me a wonderful video of an atheist defending why he didn’t stay home and instead chose to defend his belief that God does not exist or that he doesn’t believe in organized religion or whatever. He cited that because almost all religions are obsessed with the idea of ‘apocalypse,’ being consumed by death and destruction eventually which is an abomination and I agree, how can you live with that proverbial cloud hanging over your head? And I will say this I loved every bit of his well-articulated coherent thought and his idea isn’t far from the above the main difference being that i am defending theism and he was not… needless to say not original.
But seriously, if there is a God. What the in the hell is hell?

WHEN SEX AND SHAME CONVERSE…

So before I begin I will send out a disclaimer, this is probably my first blog post ever. I know I know I have a number on here but what I mean is that this is by far my rawest, most unedited piece of work yet. There are backdoors to the self in this that I didn’t even bother taking out by editing but I won’t lie I am also hoping no one who knows me ever reads this. Regardless, I am writing as I would in my diary. Yes that’s right I have a diary at 22, all the best writers do anyway, we need to cleanse the noise stories off our palate before we actually write. Anyway the point is that I call my diary Jade so do not get confused when you see that name floating around.
I just watched Luvvi Ajayi’s TED Talk yesterday and in the spirit of ‘being yourself can be a revolutionary act in itself’ I am doing this. I am high on bravery and as earlier mentioned this piece is completely unedited, I literally didn’t even re read it. OK that’s clearly a lie. I am writing this before its done so let me just say I promise not to edit it and any upsetting spelling mistakes should be directed at Luvvi Ajayi because she made me do this!
Alrightie then. Let’s get on with it!
SEX SHAME, SHAME, SEX.
So my once upon a time to this piece is the wonderful book written by Meg Jay, The Defining decade and how to make the most of your twenties. Nb/This book is really good and its helping me among many other effed up persons navigate their twenties which is really helpful because I have a ton of problems and I really can’t afford therapy so cheers to Meg Jay for writing a therapy books for people just like me.
Anyway…
I have reached the infamous chapter on love and twenties so you know this is going to be juicy juicy juicy with a capital x. So there I am learning on what I need to do and not do with men while dating, what is intimacy, cohabitation effect blah blah blah…. You know the usual therapy jibber jabber then I get to this chapter on Dating down and what was a very fun and entertaining read all of a sudden turns into the most lachrymose moment of the day.
I am literally still crying and that’s saying something I’m more stone than I am woman.
The point is there’s a story in there that really tugged at my tear ducts about a woman they call her Cathy. She is a 27 year old teacher and the picture of contentment, she has written a novella and she teaches. If you looked at her you’d be like “hm, she’s fine. On to the next sucker”
That’s where you’d be wrong, apparently she can’t hold down a relationship if you can even call what she does relationships. She just prances about with any man that will have her, she asks for nothing and it’s safe to say 90-100% of the ‘relationships’ are sex filled.
So Meg Jay asks her, notice I didn’t say interrogate. Therapists this one is for you. Don’t interrogate, it’s a therapist’’ office not the police station for God’s sake which are actually pretty terrifying in Kenya to be truthful. I was there recently when my mother had a crash, nothing major, nonetheless the police were all over her ass and I swear it is easier to get assaulted inside the station as opposed to outside. Can you believe that? That’s like saying it’s easier to drink water spilt on the floor when the glass has broken and the shards are all over as opposed to drinking it from a perfectly okay and intact glass. Anyway I digress. I told you it was unedited. So you know who to blame. Hint: Luvvi.
Anyway so Meg asks “why? Why do you do this if it makes you so unhappy?” And then the woman supplies her once upon a time after so much wheedling, damn these therapists are patient. I swear if I was a therapist and a patient hesitated with information at ‘my office’ I swear it’s going down. How the hell am I supposed to help you if you won’t tell me? I would beat the crap out of my patients both emotionally and physically. Hee hee! And that is why I will never be allowed to practice therapy. Ever.
So turns out the woman is an Asian American and where she grew up the standard of beauty was more blonde white blue eyes. I say fuck that. I have seen some hot Asians. Shout out to Gu Junpyo( some Korean soap I watched and …) and Buzzfeed’s Yu Jin Li Yang. Dang son!
Sorry back to the story, the woman felt inadequate physically and the kids in her school made fun of her A LOT, she even described it as torture. So you know this shit is real and its soul deep. Back home was no consolation, her mother kept telling her boys would like her if she just dressed better, lost more weight you now that shit a parent can tell you little do they know they are stabbing you. Further compounding the problem is that her parents didn’t really talk about race, some bullshit about a post racial world. I swear these parents must’ve been the dumbest people on Earth I am all the way here in Kenya and even I know that America is the least post-racial country in the world. Still that really warped her sense of identity.
Ok I’m gonna stop this for a minute and give a public service announcement, if you are going to date/screw/marry a person of a different race/tribe/whatever first of all just know kids are a possibility and with your unique brand of child, who is totally okay they are both 100% ‘this’ and 100% ‘that’. You can’t denounce ‘this’ and ‘that’ and move onto the progressive future where the world doesn’t know race or tribe, believe me it does. Teach your children who they are, a person with no roots cannot grow damnit.
This kind of imperceptible child abuse really gets me riled up, I swear if ‘child abuse’ could manifest as a person I would beat that person to a pulp then dismember them. Child abuse is 500%(yes I love percentages, I hear your sigh. Deal with it) to blame for all the crazy arse adults traipsing through life and fucking up everyone else’s life because they pay it forward of course then we have to do this all over again with their kids in 20 years or less. I mean. UGH!
Anyway the nexus of the issue is that the woman didn’t have sex all through high school and it made her feel like a reject. She felt unwanted, unloved but most of all the most recognizable one of them all, she felt ugly.
And so we begin. I have to ask, what is this with shame and sex? I mean obviously I know this story all too well being a 22 year old virgin myself. I am just of the opinion that shame and sex should never be in the same sentence, you know. Sex is sugar spice and everything nice, and shame is to put it lightly Harvey Weinstein (ok that was funny, I think, shit I hope.)
You have to understand I have been asexual by choice most of my life(I’ll explain this isn’t ignorance on what it means to be asexual) because of just this because when shame and sex converse ‘ugly’ is born. And from many other people I’ve talked to there are so many different variations of this sex and shame conversation for both men and women and I know you all know it.
Either your penis is small, your breasts are too small, your libido is too high or too low, you are gay or pan or something the world doesn’t care to cater for, you are inexperienced or vice versa. It’s always something! The problem is if you go about mating and sex with what I’ve just mentioned in mind which is basically just stating characteristics of people really you will hate it. I mean all the things I have mentioned are not qualifiers for ugliness, they are all beautiful by default. They are a kin to painting a landscape, there is no ugly. Ever. It’s only ever what it is, and beautifully so if I might add.
I hate how the definition of sex is characterized by physicality or porn standards or I don’t even know what. People actually think sex is a physical act and it’s a quantity issue that you should get to right now! Come on now. They couldn’t be further from the truth. It happens when it happens is the best response to that deplorable idea.
The physicality of sex is like Isaac seeing the apple fall from the tree and discovering gravity. It is quite literally the tip of the iceberg, as in for real though, Isaac’s Principia was no fucking joke even the great mathematicians of that time like De Moivre carried it around trying to figure it out. Imagine. The way De Moivre and his axioms have made me sweat. I’M GLAD Isaac made him sweat. Take that De Moivre. Ok I’m kidding I love math and I love those guys…Oh God De Moivre forgive ‘them’ for they do not know who you are, by them I mean me. I sometimes refer to myself as ‘them’ like ‘Everyone’ in Elementary. Don’t ask. Oh Lord the analogy has taken on a life of its own. Let’s back pedal.
As I was saying the physical of sex is like ‘almost nothing’ in the grand scheme of things. Just like Isaac saw the apple fall and declared for gravity which is essentially a pull from the core of the earth on any and everything within its vicinity. When people have sex, sure it’s all gonads, hands and mouths but there’s something much bigger going down. Always.
That gravity shaped something should be the focus, the main focus. I mean have fun with your hands, mouths and gonads and whatever else. Seriously have fun but don’t forget that you aren’t touching their skin, what you’re feeling is the texture of their soul. It seems simple enough but honestly in practice it’s like no one knows this.
When you understand this facet of sex, you immediately understand the golden rule of sex and I dare say you can finally evolve from hooking up, fucking, bumping uglies or whatever and finally make love because you want to AND YOU KNOW IT. And let’s be real what else is there, right? Your job. Come on now!
Now am sure you are wondering Jade, what is this golden rule you speak of wise impostor? Well it has less to do with sex and more to do with love because sex is too small a term when we are talking about souls.
The rules are simply everyone must love and be loved in turn. That’s it and I can guarantee you this statement has been paraphrased so many times but this is its true format. When you hear the phrase, ‘you need to get laid’ or ‘I’m horny’ or ‘I masturbate three times a day’ that’s what they are referring to a deficit in loving and being loved in turn. Just the way your stomach grumbles when you feel hungry. Your gonads too vibrate and cry bloody mercy as an indication also your heart hurts but that’s for the poets amongst us.
Jade notice I didn’t say ‘should’ or ‘could’ or ‘would’ because when it comes to love, it’s not conditional. It’s a must! Trust me, the people who aren’t getting their quota of love are a mess. Go and get love and stop being a damn mess, its …
So now that we know all of this it goes without say that sex should never be a source of shame, it’s all about humanness and acceptance. And yet it is such an issue that here I am writing this. Sometimes I think humanity was designed to end humanity because these very ideologies that kill our ability to make love like the dreaded virginity, ridiculous physical and performance expectations, sometimes even pregnancy drama and STI’ s fear were designed by us. Surprise surprise!
I want to go back to a time when sex was fun and your awkward birth marks are a source of exploration, lack of experience is an opportunity to enact the whole teacher fantasy, the awkwardness a comedic pursuit and the pleasure a loving gentleness not a rough physical catharsis that ends even before it begins. Goddammit! Maybe we all want to go back to that time, good news is some people are already in the ‘Promised SeX Land’ . Some selfish people might I add who should totally speak up because people are out here suffering with sex of all things to suffer through.
Please please please suffer through bills, childbirth, elections, your leaders, tribalism but don’t suffer through sex.It ain’t right! The writers of the karma sutra are tossing and turning in their graves after they had to draw those images(so funny and cute). hAHAHAHHAHA.It’s a good book though, hell a great book. Right up there with Dickens, Khalil, Lahiri and Tolstoy.
Now you know Jade. Thanks for the ear, just promise me one thing.
Never let Sex and shame meet in your mind lest they have a conversation about you.
Ok I lied I sort of edited this thing but barely. You’ll probably find some typos. Intentionally placed to make sure you were looking, which you better do! Bye I have to run!