Civil society and social psychology in the Nigerian context after 58 years.

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Bellum omnium,contra omnes. –Thomas Hobbes.

The pressing need for the creation of modern society and it’s sustenance was born through time by the desire of man for a higher set of values that foster the security,liberty and freedom to pursue and enjoy all things,provided such things are not explicitly prohibited by law. And that this structure applies to all entities that function within that system in the exact way it applies to any single one. 

A perversion of this value system is what leads to the statement by Thomas Hobbes,which translated from the original latin text is interpreted as “the battle of all against all”,the ultimate depiction of a system in total chaos.

Civil society has been in existence for centuries,and it is upon the basis of liberty,and security to enjoy this liberty that men agreed to sacrifice personal passions for the higher ideals that ensure the continuity of liberty to pursue the passions not sacrificed.

This is what differentiates man from the lower species,not just the capacity or propensity for communal coexistence, but an equitable structure that avails justice and balance to even the weakest and most vulnerable members of that system.

Sadly however,the Nigerian situation when pitched against the backdrop of civil society in it’s upwardly mobile continuum, with the parameters of social psychology fully engaged to delineate the progressive from the retrogressive,we find ourselves looking at a level of rot in human capital that has eaten so deeply into all spheres to the point that vice is enthroned as norm,and perversion is institutionalized as the only way. 

Detrimentally, institutionalization of societal vices and corruption of the individual will eventually cripple even the nations with the highest potential for growth,since corruption is both cause and consequence in itself. A decay that festers and decays in a cycle that is an inhibitor of economic,political and social development.

Essentially, a society not built upon the tenets of sacrificing the singular in favour of the collective,or individual aspirations and passions in favour of a more holistic and inclusive objective,would eventually find itself in a state of anarchy,this is primarily because the goal of individual liberty is absolute freedom,and absolute freedom is itself lawlessness,where the liberty of one individual can become the basis and impetus upon which other individuals are encumbered and violated according to the whims and caprices of the absolutely free individual. 

Now it is vital to foray into the origins of the thought forms and considerations that brought about the creation of civil society so as to show that even from the earliest centuries,man had always yearned to live in an elevated manner that continually seeks to utilize his innate capacity to transcend base existence through empathy,insight and self enhancing endeavour,and how he was able to surpress and surpass the proclivities of barbarism and animal instincts, to be refined and enhanced to such an extent as to ensure the inclusion of all of those who wish to participate in the building of society,and protect their effort from the elements who by either action or inaction,are against the progressive strides of the whole.

Social psychology in the developing and developed world is an intrinsic aspect of the building blocks of civil society,it is a holistic approach at harnessing the essential elements that come together in a deliberate attempt towards building societies with balanced tenets,and an equitable structure that is fair enough in catering to all and sundry. It is the inquisition into the thought forms and nature of the average human being,with his needs,desires,goals and aspirations, flaws and weaknesses brought into perspective against the backdrop of what is generally agreed on as progressive for the larger group.

A conscious Nigerian would read this and feel a sense of gloom by the vast chasm we have to cover in order to model our societal construct after what is most progressive,and more ominous is the question of when we would even wake up to the fact that our mission in that regard should have commenced 58 years ago.

Our brand of civil society,or the Nigerian incarnation of the concept,is riddled with the proclivities of the base self,things like unbridled avarice,sociopathy,narcissism,nepotism,tyranny and too much more to outline.

All of these,testaments to the decay of the man,and the decay of the man, an inevitable facilitation of the decay of all the institutions he holds in trust for future generations.

And indeed there has been decaying in institutions in Nigeria, unmitigated decaying for 58 years that has festered through the years,leaving behind a putrid gash that continually bleeds out the best a frail nation can muster in the bid to rescue itself from oblivion.

Tribalism,nepotism,flagrant criminality,general sociopathy,terrorism and other expressions of extremist proclivities are as a result of a social programming that conditions the individual functioning under its influence to not see themselves as under the direct authority of the state or government,institutions who’s legitimaies have been eroded by their weakness and corruption.

Consequently, when we describe the Nigerian malaise as an immensely deep and depraved one,we are actually referring to the gross failure at even the most fundamental essentials of proper human behaviour and character building such as basic courtesy, decorum,commonsense and fairness,values lost to a society that lacks conscience and an internal mirror,a people that have truly lost their way.

But what are the steps to follow in the quest for the acquisition of a societal construct that fosters progress,what are the foundations to be laid,albeit belatedly. 

Perhaps we can start the journey the way it began in the first place,we can start by trying to understand our needs as individuals,our need for security,our need for liberty, our need for equality in the pursuit of our singular aspirations,and perhaps in doing this we may understand how these needs mirror that of the next person,and the next,and the next,till the realisation dawns on us,that to enjoy freedom and security,we must first be willing to contribute to its emergence,and sustenance. 

And most crucially,that we seek daily to promote the lattices that hold together the regard of one man for another,and in the absence of any deeper bond,find peace in the internally profound understanding that even in our vast differences,we are all still one and the same.

     Mr Boma Princewill.

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