Wednesday, April 1, 2020 1:11 pm
By Nehru Odeh
A common danger unites the bitterest enemies – Aristotle
The world is at a critical stage. At no time has our mere mortality tugged at our consciences the way it is now. People are dying everyday across the globe in the wake of conoravirus. Offices are being closed, business centres are being shut down and even countries are closing shop. And since there is lockdown, everybody is being forced to stay at home, at least for the sake of self, for the sake of country and for the sake of the globe. And the buzz word now is #StayhomeStaysafe.
Stay home, stay safe, they say. Nobody wants to die; yet, as Peter Tosh once sang, everybody wants to go to heaven Everybody wants a better life. Everybody wants to stay safe and preserve their life, both the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the beautiful and the ugly, the friend and the fiend. Death, in deed, is a leveller.
Now in the face of a common enemy, countries that hitherto had not been best of friends are now finding common grounds in order to survive. And couples whose relationships are strained are being forced to stay at home, at least to stay safe and preserve their lives. Let’s preserve our lives first, they seem to be saying, and then after that anything can happen. This indeed is not surprising as T. Hodge once said, self preservation is the first law of nature.
We are now conscious of the need to love one another. We are now being forced to see our common humanity, our common fate in the face of danger. But underneath this craze for safety, this facade of love, is the thin line that separates love and hate. Underneath this frenzy for safety is the fickleness called love. Suddenly the bitterest enemies have become best friends. Suddenly couples that were at daggers drawn have become best lovers. And suddenly the rich have become benevolent because death stares.everyone in the face.
But where do we go from here after conoravirus, that is if we survive it? What happens after conoravirus? What happens if we do not all die after all? Are we going to revert to business as usual, building walls of differences and sparation? Are we going to continue killing one another? Are we going to continue oppressing the poor and the have-nots with our wealth and power? Are we going to acquire wealth after wealth, even though many can’t afford a meal per day and majority can’t eat three square meals per day?
Now that we are being forced to stay at home, both estranged husbands and wives, both lovers and enemies, and both friends and foes, studies have ravealed that there will be more births in the end. And more deaths. Too. This is because couples now have no choice but to stay at home and make love because of the lockdown. But what kind of love are we making? Love that crumbles at the slightest test and strain? But what happens ever after? Are we going to continue creating more lives only for them to die by whatever means?
This brings me to the thin line that separates love and hate. Little wonder countries who had professed love for one another in the past later become worst enemies, couples who had confessed love for each other in the past later become worst enemies. People who had professed love for one another in the past kill themselves without batting an eyelid. That goes a long way to show the fickleness of the human condition, of love, of our sheer humanity. It was Friedrich Nietzsche, who once said , “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” Where is true friendship in marriages? Wherr is true friendship in relationships?
What we call love is just a facade covering deep-seated hate lodged in the innermost receccess of our minds, in our subconscious. What we call love is just selfishness masquerading as love, a self-centered craving for affection and service. What we call love is just a secret drive to abridge others freedom just to satisy one’s cravings. It was also Jean Paul Sartre, the French existentialist philosopher who once said, “Love is, in essence, the project to be loved.” Most times what we call Love Is not love for the sake of love but just a hidden desire to satisy one’s selish desire.
So rather than bandy love around, when in actual fact we hate, let’s be conscious of our mere mortalty, our common humanity and our interconnnectedness. Let’s be conscious of the act that we need one another to survive. We all love one another or we die, so says W.H Auden. We should not love because we want to be loved in return or because we all face a common danger. But we should love because it is the essence of life, of living.
So as we stay at home and crave for love, as we give or make what we called love because we face a common enemy, let’s also be conscious of our shared mortality and humanity. I would like to end this piece by quoting one of William Shakespeare’s immortal sonnets. Because if we do not love one another and lift one another up. nobody is safe. Those we do not lift up will one day call for our heads.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds
Or bend with the remover to remove.
O no it’s an ever fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is not shaken.
It’s the star to every wandr’ing bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come,
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom
And if this be error, and upon me prov’ed
I never writ, nor no man ever loved..
-Nehru Odeh, a journalist with TheNEWS, is the author of The Patience Of An Embattled Storyteller.