If you had had a hand in deciding whether to come into the world

At a first consideration, the question looks like an absurd one.

It acknowledges that my being on Earth had nothing to do with me. But it then asks me to second-guess

the processes by which I was created without my agreement!

Is that fair?

Yet the question is definitely worth cogitating upon – if for nothing, as a purely philosophical exercise. After all, the viewpoint that “the unexamined life is not worth living” is worth a thought or two, is it not?

But really, what’s the point of spending time debating an issue over which one had no control? Over which no matter what one’s conclusion is, one can do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about it?

Haha! It’s the sort of issue which occupies your mind when, thanks to COVID-19, you cannot go out to seek human company without putting on a mask that makes you look like a snouted rodent. Or a Boko Haram recruit!

But let me try and answer it.

If I were not already in the world, and was shown a video of it and asked whether I’d like to make the journey into it, or not, I think what would make me want to come would be – the birds.

Is there any sight more beautiful than two birds mating on the wing? They start on the ground; the roof of a building, or on the branch of a tree.

The male one indulges in unusual behaviour: flying round the female; turning cartwheel in the air to display the incredibly colourful feathers he has hitherto hidden under his wings or his tail.

Or – if they are perched on a tree branch, taking some weird steps towards the female, as if he was trying to show her that he could transform one step into two without falling off! Display, display, display!

But the female pretends it’s not impressed, and drives the male off with a sharp clap of its wings, followed by a nibble-by-the-bill.

However, in a short while, she flies into the air. Neither too fast, nor too slow. It’s not giving anything away.

Aha – what subtle signal does she give to the male that if it flies after her this time, her mood could possibly change?

Anyway, he reads her signal correctly. He approaches her and they touch each other’s flesh very very fast. With a flutter of feathers, a peck and a mount.

And then, they let go. As if they had told the laws of physics to go hang; that gravity had lost control over them.

But they never fall to the ground, no matter how low they might descend. They cry out and climb up – all in a steep movement. Next come the aerobatics – they circle around each other, pretending to collide. And then – they go their separate ways.

I have never seen a sight so moving beautifully choreographed.

So that’s how birds populate our forests and habitations? What do they say to each other as they do that? Can human courting ever approach this sky-made magic?

I think and think of the human version of this peculiar activity. Do birds too become disenchanted with each other, after a few years? Does a female bird turn her head away – permanently – after a year or two?

As I ponder the vicissitudes of bird life, my mind is drawn towards the “anti-reasons” why I wouldn’t choose to become a resident of the world, if I had a say in the matter.

There is nothing in the world that was originally made by humankind. Man builds dwellings with earth and wood that’s already on Earth; he survives by drinking water which is provided free of charge by Nature; he eats food which Nature has given him a brain clever enough to cook first, or whose properties he alters, with agricultural sciences, to suit his taste.

Nature reveals unto humankind, the herbs and chemicals to be used in creating medicines to cure his illnesses.

Nature also opens up his mind, so that he can manufacture rockets and instruments to take him beyond the Earth’s orbit, into the realms where galaxies and stars do reside.

But man also chooses to make deadly weapons with these skills.

By doing this, man becomes the most destructive force on Planet Earth!

If left alone, he will turn the Earth into a cratered desert – like the Moon or Mars.

Take man into a tropical forest. Open his eyes to the coloured wings of different butterflies. Open his ears to the songs of nightingales and hornbills.

Let him drink the cold water that rolls downhill and is constantly chilled by a canopy of greenish foliage.

Will he mark the place down as a potential paradise to which he should bring his lovers, relatives or friends?

No!

Man would rather go and bring machines to destroy the brook and dig it for bauxite or manganese that lies beneath its ancient bed.

He will drive excavators into the water to dredge up the sand and the pebbles and pan them for gold nuggets; gold dust!

Oh man, what a fool!

Who created this humankind and placed it on a Planet Earth which he’s unfit to make his habitation?

Who makes humankind enjoy the act of – destroying, destroying; destroying?

Humankind has been destroying the atmosphere that protects him from the sun’s rays.

He’s relentlessly creating climate change. The evidence is there, plotted into graphs by his own instruments!

Yet. he won’t admit it! Nor take action to stop it!

He has buried nuclear weapons in underground cubicles. One accident and radiation will kill millions of his own kind.

He has established scientific institutions to turn natural microbes into invisible killers with unbounded reproductive capability.

But when Ebola comes, followed swiftly by coronavirus, he doesn’t admit his part in their creation, but misinforms the world with empty alibis.

No! I would say to anyone who wanted to send me into the world: you may only do so, if you can take away my mind!

Don’t make me capable of judging what’s good and what’s bad for the world.

Or else give me a stick – hard as steel and flexible as a rope – by which I may whip the fools amongst

humankind, till they learn the value of what it is they’ve got that they are so happily destroying!

Or else give me a thousand voices, by which I can chant on a daily basis:

Men-are-fools-men-are-fools-men-are-fools-men-are-fools!

By CAMERON DUODU

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