Updated: Apr 12
Guest writer for "mynzdreamblog"
DOWNSIDE UP by Swit La Pound
Hey there, welcome to Swit Tuesdays, but do not be misled by the name. Here we talk about life, the bitter and the sweet, the joys and the sorrows, the thoughts and emotions - heart to heart. Today my heart encouraged my head to dwell on THE DOWNSIDE UP, or is it, UPSIDE Down, of the structures and systems that have been put in place and bind human behavior mentality and our very existence, despite nationality and geographic location.
Sometimes, to see clearer, you do not have to be immersed in things and get engaged first hand, instead; you take a step or two back and observe, as a mere spectator, even your own actions. A few friends and I took a look at our lives, our behaviors, and our reactions, as well as observed those around us and our families at home. All seeking to find answers to the state of humanity, the purpose of life, and the meaning of existence. The majority of us have gone through, or actually going through an existential crisis, feeling lost and unbelonging, trying to find a place and some predestined destiny.
During these chats and talks, slowly, as I stepped back to inspect my own thoughts, being, actions, and reactions, my mind, seeing clearer, and piecing together, started formulating its own theory and attempted explanations to these prickly questions and QUARRIES that troubled it.
When we are born, we are born into a world that has systems, constructs, rules, and laws, man-made, that dictate our every step and breath as we develop and grow from infantry until we reach the peak of our adulthood. Systems that, as the years go by and our personalities develop, infect our thinking, our perceptions, our decisions, and basically, become part of who we are, most times without our notice.
In addition, money and power, above all, were and are the foundations of the functionality of the world created. Everything becomes money and power-oriented, from teenagehood to adulthood, resulting in most people chasing that universal dream at the expense of personal introspection, growth, socialization, and mere rest.. Yet those are the individuals most elevated and celebrated by society, despite starving every other aspect and sphere of life.
I am not talking about family dynamics and upbringing per ser, but rather, the bigger version of background, environment, and values absorbed. Government rules constitutional laws, environmental prescriptions, technological advancements, and education itself, and how they determine one's personality, mentality, and sociability.
For some reason, the more democratic, technological, and educated we become, in our own definitions, the more nature, common sense, foresight, and humanity seem to evade us. Most, if not everything, we have created and become rulers over, diminishes individuality, creativity, and freedom itself, and almost always backfires and aids in our depreciation as a kind.
Take, for instance, identity, tradition, and language. Africa as a micro reflection. Each child is born and raised to embrace, practice, and be proud of who they are, their culture, their families, and everything about themselves, at least in words. While the system they have to grow in and abide by strips that pride and identity away, under the veil of getting an education and making one fit and proper for Societal functionality and acceptance. We encourage individuality and self uniqueness, then strip them off and robotize everyone into uniformity and conformity, not only of lifestyle but of thinking too.
So, a child grows from birth up to around 4 or 5 years, kindergarten age, or Grade 000 for other countries. Surrounded by homely values, family, culture, and tradition, we encourage-identify and pride. Becoming and beginning to understand themselves and others in terms of those cultural and home values, but growing is inevitable, so is change.
At age six or seven, they are ripe for formal school, and now the official transformation begins. For starters, cultural wear and dressing are disregarded and replaced by what is regarded as ‘more formal and socially acceptable’. Not forgetting, of course, to make sure that there is always one day, set aside every year, to commemorate the dying culture, where one can freely wear and be who they are, without scorn and rejection.
Language is next in line. Leaving just enough of the mother tongue in one, while the universal English language slowly takes over as a first language and a requisite, for a chance at a decent life. All the while, at home, mother tongue and birth values continue, contrasting with the new and required tongue. Must be confusing for a tender mind!
As soon as classes start, the traditional ways of thinking, resolution, and address start evaporating, to be replaced by more modern and constitutional ones-‘alternative dispute resolution in a Civilized manner’.
As the grades go higher, and the age adds on every year, so do the laws and rules to abide by, slowly transforming everything familiar from childhood. Slowly, the rules and laws become a norm, and acting otherwise, is a punishable breach of law. Slowly and gradually seeping into one's mentality and blood. Either as an obedient follower or a rebel. Throughout all this, words still shout "be yourself", "be unique" "Be proud of who you are", as everything else practical demands uniformity and conformity.... Quite the opposites! Upside down!
By the time maturity of adulthood arrives, the person that was, as a child, is long gone, replaced by a Societal sheep that fits the required standard human structure. Values formerly taught and adopted, thrown away, and despised. Can we then say that such an individual, at any point, is being “themselves”, or “unique”? Are we not stifling the very individuality and out-of-the-box uniqueness that we preach? Do they even have an identity? Or do we all just have and live by the assumed identity that was injected into us, a systematically uniform human stereotype?
To change it up, let’s randomly take, for instance, say, minerals and mining. Gold and Diamond, maybe - the popular ones. Every woman’s friend… or everyone’s dream!
Jewels and items with gold or diamond are expensive and something to show off, we all know.. But taking a closer look at how these minerals are acquired, mined from the belly of the earth, up to being a refined gem for sale, leaves a lot to be questioned. Down here in Africa, we have what has popularly been termed an infestation of illegal gold and diamond miners and planners.
Remember, the educational and systematic transformation aforementioned? Well, our systems have made it that, without the prescribed education and personalities, it is difficult, and in some situations, almost impossible, for one to thrive or have a decent life, forcing most into poverty, desperation, crime, and illegality. All in search of life, not even a better life, but just life, a means of surviving.
After the failure to get education, for diverse reasons, at first, there is always hope that things will get better, of a brighter tomorrow, and maybe a bite for the rumbling stomach. But as the years go by, hope becomes desperation, which quickly turns into hopelessness and despair. At this point, anything that can bring a life source, an income, and put food on the table and a roof over the head is welcome. Most might not understand the level of poverty and desperation in discussion… It's beyond mere one homeless, where life itself, daily as you wake up, makes no sense and all you pray for is death, but it too is expensive for you and abandons you to your suffering. There's no money in a civility that is powered by money. No education or the mere required and expected thinking capacity to even be respected and considered enough of a human, let alone be given a job and a chance. No support or encouragement and those close are bound to the same fate - a blood curse. The level of poverty and loss of hope pushes people to risk dear life, hanging under planes, crossing crocodile and shark-infested waters, forging documentation, and engaging in despicable. All for life just slightly better than their usual daily lives, or even just the hope of it! The level of poverty becomes a way of thinking, forcing one to look at themselves as the lowest of human beings. Society cements the downtrodden through their actions and treatment.
Imagine being such a person, with poverty for a lifestyle, then, one day finding out about a chance to make some money, a mining job, with no complex requirements except your physique. Yes, it does sound dangerous to go underground, with no qualifications, experience, or training, but the job requires them not and does not provide training. All one has to do is, without proper protective gear, mining structures, or certification, go down into the unstable mine, to dig out gold and diamond. To be sold to corporations and Companies, for a nut-sized payment to the miner and later resold for even more profit margins.
The risk of collapsing mines, arrests, and death itself seems little, pitched against dying of hunger and forever begging. Millions perish, trapped under collapsed mines that were unstable from the onset, from murders emanating from quarrels over the gold and diamond or shares to same, or, from diseases, as they reside in the wild, at the mines, hidden from life and authority, at the mercy of the wild and infections. It's a hell of a life for one to live!
The worst part is that the turnover is not handsome for the risk run. But to most, coming out of acute poverty, the peanuts are millions. After payout, most have enough for mere survival but still wallop in poverty and range at the bottom of the Societal acceptance grid still. Their mentality and behavior, thus, due to lack of education especially, remain the same and unchanged, mostly, in the cultural and family values with which they identify. Unworthy of a Spotlight, treated and regarded as backward by the reformed society. A conundrum in itself!
After buying the gold and diamond for change, big corporations, that publicly shun illegal mining, then Proceed to process, them, as well as legalize them, before selling them off, for an arm and a leg, not even nearly affordable to the person who mined them, and available only for those that made it to the peak of the set social ladder... The deep-pocketed.
In other words, the direly poor illegal minor dies and kills, for gold and diamond, which enriches the companies that despise the miner in the face of the world, for celebrities to bling up their belt buckles, teeth, gaming consoles, and for the rest of us to wear. On our rings, necklaces, and other jewelry, just to show. Or to the rest of the world, like the illegal minor, that they/we are better than them! It's all a confusing and yet contrasting norm. Quite not the right side up!
Our tongues elevate out-of-the-box thinking, while we make sure, in the same person, to fence the thinking with barbed wire, strengthened by electric fences of expectations, rules, laws, and belief beliefs. Securely keeping the thinking within confines, for easy control..... Downside. Up!
It seems our own systems fight, not only against nature but ourselves and our lives. Are we aiding our own depreciation and downfall, morally, socially, and mentally... Playing a hand in millions of deaths and mental collapse, well at least in my opinion.
Though seeing the effect and connection between popular ideologies and expectations, as dictated by rules, laws, and standards - and mentality, resolutions, and the basic character in most people, the purpose and meaning of life still lie unanswered. Instead, more questions hover, seeking answers. What then, should we do, to truly live as ourselves and follow our dreams? Is it even our dreams that seek to follow and see-through, or are those we are meant to believe are our dreams? Which person is one to identify with, as their identity and pride? The cultural values of tender age, or the instilled values of adulthood? Are laws and rules keeping us safe and orderly only, or are they reaching beyond, mind control and behavioral dictation? Do our own systems thwart those at the bottom and squeeze energy from them, for the lavishness of those regarded better?
Is this truly how we are meant to exist and co-exist? Or Did we just flip it all like UPSIDE- DOWN and live DOWNSIDE- UP?
Thank you, Swit a very thought-provoking well-written piece. Please tell us how you liked this article in the comments below, like, and share.
I am looking for one more monthly guest poster and a weekly Thursday guest poster, if you think you have what it takes to write for "The NZDream" blog please email firstname.lastname@example.org