16.12.2008 Feature Article

Suspicion is truth, assumptions are facts

Suspicion is truth, assumptions are facts
16.12.2008 LISTEN

One worrying observation I've made about us as Ghanaians is our apparent lack of objectivity. I am not sure how this has come to be the case, but like some of the other unfortunate ills in our society it has some destructive outcomes. I have observed many situations where suspicions are seen as truth, and assumptions are peddled as facts. Prejudice has become a strong influence on our thoughts and actions – perhaps fuelled by decades of deep-seated tribal mistrust and conflict. Many of us seem to go around wearing invisible tinted spectacles which colour what we see and clouds our judgement.

Non-enquiring minds…
We have been conditioned through the ages to distrust certain sections of our community, and believe wholeheartedly what other sections tell us. Consequently, we are not naturally predisposed to enquiry and investigation. I've been privy to countless discussions and debates, and read many articles, where it is clear that the views being pushed had little or no facts or evidence, and couldn't be substantiated. One only has to ask how the purveyor of those views knows for sure, or what evidence they have, to see the basis of their entire argument crumble; yet they stick vehemently 'to their guns'.

The victimised daughter-in-law…
I was recently forwarded a 'spam' that is doing the rounds in Cyberspace at the moment. I found it both interesting and pertinent. It told the story of a married woman who had ongoing issues with her mother-in-law, and felt that the problem was with her mother-in-law. This went on for a while and the ensuing bitterness caused the woman to think of poisoning her mother-in-law, convinced that the woman was nothing short of evil. She sought the advice of a family friend, who was also a herbalist, and asked for some poison to kill the old lady off. The herbalist suggested that a poison that killed immediately would arouse suspicion, so he would give her some herbs that would kill off the old lady gradually. He also advised the woman to be nice to her mother-in-law, again to avoid suspicion. The result was a complete turnaround in the nature of their relationship – the mother-in-law reciprocated the pleasantries and they became the 'best of friends'. The wise old herbalist had not given the woman poison at all, but had found a practical and sensible way of showing her that the problem was in her mind.

One country, one people, one destiny…
My fellow Ghanaians, just because we don't like or agree with someone doesn't mean we should concoct stories or peddle untruths about him / her, or be so quick to believe such things. We are not enemies. Suspicion alone does not necessarily make something true, and we need to take off the invisible spectacles that distort what and how we see. I implore our politicians and media to educate our people on being more enquiring and investigative by setting a good example.

Let us develop a real appetite for the truth and for facts – for our collective well-being and for our young democracy. It's a big ask, which calls on all of us to challenge some of our entrenched values and beliefs. It will not be easy but if we want to see a better Ghana, we all need to make some effort. Regardless of 'colouring', tribe, political affiliations, or personal preferences, we are all Ghanaians – one people, one destiny. Let us seek out facts, and pursue a collective agenda in a responsible manner.