In my “why I write” essay I really indicated that I was apolitical. I am. I will not take any sides in worldly controversies, conflicts, policies, and matters of government.
But I also insisted that I write to admonish, to suggest a better way. To direct. To take you along.
While I cannot change the world and have no such desire or aspiration, I can help humanity. I want to. Yes.
Writing, therefore, is a service.
My own conclusion raised a pertinent question. I wonder if you noticed. Or if you noticed more than I want to discuss in this follow-up. That is, although my purpose in writing is apolitical, it is cause-worthy. And, sure, it can benefit a nation’s political system!
My purpose in writing is apolitical but cause-worthyTweet this
Apolitical but Cause-Worthy
If you could write an essay whose import helped a reader make a decision that improved her life, couldn’t you also the life of a community? Of a nation? Of a people?
Say, a community elected a governor who picked up some “evil” policies for selfish reasons. And you have an idea or ideas that if acted upon could turn things around for this community. Would you leave off publishing it because you wish to be off politics? To be left alone?
Would you leave off publishing and establishing and managing a noble cause (for a community) just because you want to remain apolitical?
Did you sense those a valid set of questions arising from my “why I write” essay?
My hopefully unequivocal answer is I’m willing to stay apolitical but for a cause (in my writing). Yes, I am willing to draw up a plan that can save a community. Awesome if its government accepts it.
And I’ll do it for the same altruistic motivation that drives me to publish all the time. Really, some poems in Unfortunate Oyibo are “placeholders” for such plan. Even as you’ll be shown about a key one in this essay.
In the end, I may not have changed government or been involved with it politically, but I would’ve “helped” it toward its publicized goal of being there for the community.
Because whether a government becomes injurious to its people or not, its inherent and expressed purpose is really a humanitarian one. To be there for the people.
Ethicist Michael Josephson regards ‘politics a noble enterprise with fundamental ideals.’ (A World of Ideas, Bill Moyers, 1989)
I’ll illustrate my point here with a situation pretty similar to what action what I publish and the cause it might require might take. It involves “four drinking buddies” in Brazil.
(The following section is adapted from a “Planet Money” podcast whose transcript can be found here.)
An Unlikely Group of National Heroes
Building a “city” isn’t necessarily an evil policy by a government. A city’s purpose has always been humanitarian, for the common (economic) progress of all (citizens).
But when a new city project rips an economy apart, birthing an inflation rate of some outrageous 80% each month? Would you blame the people who blissed out in suicide? Sure, to the living ones, you’d do better off writing about your suicide attempts, than if you went through with it!
But that was the rot Brazil found itself in, starting in the 1950’s.
Brazil’s government played god with money it didn’t have, minting cruzeiros at a frenetic pace to build a fancy new capital in Brasilia. By the 1980’s the economy had been brought to its bare knees, tanked, with several failed attempts by successive governments to fix it.
Then in 1993, a new finance minister who humbly admitted he knew nothing about economics (we would thank Cardoso) was appointed by a newly elected president. The minister invited four university professors of economics, who he knew had been studying and complaining about Brazil’s inflation for decades. These soon-to-be heroes had one assignment.
‘You have a plan to fix the economy? Go ahead, fix things exactly your way. We won’t interrupt!’
While the government might have anticipated a ‘magical, overnight’ fix, a reason the heroes were initially reluctant to be involved, the “long, hard, complex, multi-step macroeconomic plans modeled” by the four eventually fixed Brazil’s decades-old inflation woes.
They wrote a plan for a new currency, which was at first only virtual, but “stable, dependable, and trustworthy.” It gradually built back the people’s faith in Brazil’s money.
Everything from wages to taxes to commodities were to be listed in URV (as it was called–unit of real value). So whatever people spent or were paid was some cruzeiro equivalent of URV. So prices of things stayed stable in URV even as people were becoming comfortable paying more for them in cruzeiro equivalents.
After one year of this practice, coupled with the government’s balancing of its budget and slowing down on money creation, the “fake” money had been stable and accepted well enough. Then the government said, “go,” and ‘the real was now real money.’
So four apolitical economists had revived a country’s economy and saved many, many lives, including the “life” of a sitting government. Well, at least a finance minister was humble enough to admit “economic” ignorance! Guess what, “he was elected president. Twice!” Thank you, Cardoso!
Now I could stop here because my point is clear. No? But let me share a hint at one practical way I could save Nigeria of what’s going to be a very real danger to its cities soon. Apolitical but cause-worthy.
Unfortunate Oyibo Is a Tree and for Trees
In an article I did to inform you of my debut bookUnfortunate Oyibo, I shared this disturbing trend in Nigeria’s cities. We just ‘fell trees to build houses.’
No (coordinated) plan for vegetation in Nigeria.Tweet this
As our cities grow, so they become bare and arid, smoggy and hot. Relate that to another disturbing situation of no real success among naturals in rural areas except they move into the cities and you’ll see millions of noses struggling to suck in a supply of oxygen overwhelmed by carbon-dioxide.
Now corroborate that with our predicted growth rate, topping off every year by about the size of Norway toward becoming twice as large as the US by 2050. More nostrils and beating hearts within the same land mass.
More trees to go down, right? ‘Those space thieves!’ But more smog. More warming. More heat. More unlivableness. Yet just planting trees can forestall this ugly trend.
Yes, Nigeria needs a coordinated plan for vegetation.Tweet this
And that is one project I’d love to undertake to “save” Nigeria.
So “Unfortunate Oyibo” the poem is actually a tree and I wrote it with the intention to save trees, to restore our forests, to forest yet more. Or to encourage such intention.
But I Won’t Pass the Buck
I hope I’ve succinctly answered the question that led my writing this follow-up essay. Yes, I’m apolitical but I take responsibility in helping a community as much as I do a person who may read and listen to me.
In a future essay and when I do commence my “Greening Nigeria” program, I’ll share how I and you and others who may join us are going to execute it. Be there!
Let’s discuss this essay on Twitter #WhyIWrite