Thursday, 8 January 2015

Silencing others is not the answer in religion or politics

I was an Afroplitan living in Paris, France in 1995 during the Metro bombings. Yesterday I was once again watching the news of another religious inspired violent attack (on the media) in Paris. This reminded me of Voltaire, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

This brings me ta an issue that has bothered me a lot of the past two years. I joined the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) as the IT Project Coordinator in May 2013 and since then have had to face personal insults and verbal attacks on various social media. However, the moment I took issue with any personal attack (like on my personal Facebook page by a Namibia "investigative" journalist), I get reminded that I am an official of the ECN and should act more professionally.

Having been a social commentator since my student days I found it very difficult to understand that other people could confuse my personal life with my professional one. At one point I had to take out my "street manners" learnt in Hillbrow, Johannesburg and give some serious foul language to these characters that got into my personal life. I did not feel good about using foul language (even though it worked) but had to make a point of separating my professional life with my personal opinions.

The attach on @IamCharlie had me once again evaluate the way we as humans react to the opinions of others when we feel that it is contrary to our own. This was further brought to the for by the following post from a friend:

Rule #1: If you do not wish to be silenced, do not prevent others from speaking. 
Rule #2: If you do not want to be restricted, do not limit the movements of others.

This sentiment is not restricted to religions in Africa, but also the political parties. Most political parties (especially the "liberation parties"), have become a religion to their followers. Thus making a political party "holier than thou" and pushing a strategy of faith - even if you cannot see it you must believe in it.

I foresee that as long as we try to silence those who disagree with us, these type of senseless attacks will continue - whether the excuse is difference in religion or political beliefs.

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