Monday, May 19, 2008

Strategy of Subversive Rationalization for Development – More Science and Less Faith?

Here’s an extract from a rather lengthy but highly intellectual and engaging article on how to apply the afore-mentioned strategy for uniquely and uncontaminatedly modernizing Nigeria and Africa.

PS: You may need a dictionary to fully grasp the message of this short extract as the author utilized his full arsenal of words and expressions.

The strategy (of subversive rationalization) emphasizes the internalization of the scientific method and rational modes of thinking as well as the assimilation of key scientific knowledge, as the epistemological foundation of any kind of modernity. It also stresses the necessity of renovating conformist, traditionalist or totalizing belief and knowledge systems, worldviews and cultures, that stand in the way to essential changes on the road to modernity - a mega-project of autonomization, individuation, rationalization, demystification and feminization processes (less patriarchal forms). Modernity is also a project of democratization, liberalization, secularization, trans-nationalization, systematization, technocratization and humanization processes.

The strategy relies on scientific knowledge, which offers only incomplete and patchy theories of the real but nonetheless possibly the best models of reality, for reordering and reconstructing the African reality and for engaging it with up to date, robust and economically efficient technical know-how. More generally, it relies on calculative thinking and on the scientific tradition as the most viable civilizational horizon of a budding region, whose tortuous and uncertain transition to modernity may necessitate an imaginative strand of thinking.........................

In summary the strategy of Subversive Rationalization uses the power of scientific thought to launch a counter hegemonic offensive in order to subvert disabling traditional and repressive knowledge-power orders that stand in the way to a new realism, or to the rejuvenation and reconstruction of the African reality. The strategy may be valuable for bringing about a post-totemic, post-enchanted, post-Abrahamic, post-phallocratic, post-colonial and post-fragmented regional space and in moving Africa forward into a distinctive, creative, secular, democratic and authentic form of modernity.

You would concur that there are resounding, though unconventional truths in this discourse and the author certainly displayed advanced knowledge of theoretical development strategies for our continent. However, as much as I agree with the author that we need to apply proven methods and standard processes in accordance with logical procedures and empirical rationalizations, we would be critically mistaken to assume that total dependence on experiential and scientific knowledge would be effective as a panacea for our present challenges.

There is more than meets the eye to every occurrence and this is not superstition. How do we explain several instances of people (and societies) who seemingly ought to have completely lost hope based on prevailing circumstances, but still eventually came out victorious and later experienced such prosperity and peace that none could have predicted. If we were to solely depend on scientific methods to predict eventual outcomes, we would have been wrong on many occasions throughout human existence.

My view is that we ought to keep hope alive, have strong faith and display such defying confidence (not arrogance) that no matter how bad a situation might have been, there is still that possibility of experiencing victory and emancipation.

This realm is certainly above science and methods. Science, technology, formal methods and proven strategies are critical, but abstract ‘resources’ such as faith, confidence, tenacity, ethical traditions and constructive beliefs could prove even more decisive in making Nigeria and Africa uniquely and uncontaminatedly modern.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Finding our way back to what's REALLY important

What do we really place value on? Without going into any deep analysis, this question simply attempts to help us articulate and express the things we truly hold dear.
There is a tendency for us to start cracking our heads on what ‘the answer should be’ rather than being sincere and revealing what the answer really has been.

We know that knowledge, not acted upon is basically of little value, but it becomes wisdom when applied. When we fail to place the things we claim to hold dear as top priority, we are practically engaging in self-deception which eventually bears thorns and ultimately leads to the valley of dissatisfaction and regret, but I’m certain no one desires such end result.

Even I that speaketh have also had to (and still) constantly re-evaluate and re-examine my life in order to ascertain what exactly it is that I’m living for, so that I myself may not be a castaway after I had become a channel of inspiration to others.

Many of us have somehow found ourselves living a utopian (sort of American or is it Nigerian?) dream of prosperity and total self satisfaction and actualization, and have lost sight of what’s really important. We have become consumed with an intense desire to reach El-dorado and would stop at nothing to attain ‘success’ by accumulating resources, building financial empires and businesses, touching the lives of the poor and being accepted and recognised in society as an achiever and trail-blazer.

Nothing wrong with all these, except of course there is something wrong with the things that are CORE!

Tommy Tenney outlined FOUR aspects of our lives that I strongly believe are central.

A) Family
We all love our families but there’s that tendency for us to become familiar with them to the point where we begin to take them for granted. We have enormous obligations and responsibility to our families, especially our conjugal families (that in which you are a parent). Those times when we were nothing, had nothing and were just plain ordinary, they believed in us, loved us and kept us going. I stop to think about it; that if I loose all, who are those that would stick around and attend to me? My family certainly would be amongst the few and that sure holds for most of us.

B) Friends
Friendship is an intense word that has slowly lost its true meaning over the years.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and are to be trusted above the kisses of an enemy” – Proverbs.
Friendship indicates people with whom we have close personal relationship of mutual affection and trust.
It could also mean one who defends or supports a cause, i.e. your cause. When you meet people whose supposed friends are mainly those that they’ve only known for a few months, then there might be problems with such people. This indicates they do not have the capacity to sustain and nurture their friendships. There should be those select few that we have a high level of commitment to over the duration of our lives. These are the people we share our dreams with, and reveal our inner-most feelings to. These kinds of relationships should be held in high esteem, and must never be affected by change in economic status, location and other potential dividers.

C) Character
Character incorporates all the values and fundamental beliefs that determine how we live, react and respond regardless of the environment and context. It marks the distinctive qualities that indicate who we really are.
Character answers the question - ‘who am I?’
Scripture helps us understand that it isn’t what goes into a man, but what comes out that defiles him. There’s always that tendency for our behaviours and reactions to be contextually influenced (also known as eye-service or politicking), but our true nature lies in how we conduct ourselves when no one (or nobody that’s either familiar with us or can exercise a degree of control over our lives) is watching.
We have an incredible amount of commitment and hard-work to invest in our lives if we really intend to build and maintain strong character. Though a good name is worth much more than silver, character is the underpinning factor that actually enables us to achieve this.

D) Eternal
Now this is one sensitive, highly critical, by far the most important but often neglected aspect of our lives. There has been much debate about whether we continue to persist after our bodies ‘shutdown’, but even scientific studies today have revealed that there is indeed intelligent design, and that there is a purpose for life. Life in this dimension is not an accident, but is simply a strategic short passing phase. Though short, our lifetime here would ultimately determine what we make of the after life which would ultimately persist infinitely. We ought to constantly live as commuters on earth. When we have such a mindset, we would not cling to the things that are of little eternal value. Heaven is indeed real and the things that would influence our place and reward in heaven are more often than not the soft things. Actively expressed love for humanity, strong character, less emphasis on material wealth and self actualization, and confession of, unwavering faith in and love for Christ and THE WORD constitute the basics and fundamentals for eternal relevance.

Final Words -

I believe many of us do have a genuine desire to lead relevant and high quality lives that would leave an enduring eternal impression, but often find ourselves falling short of expectations. We must however realise that though we fall (and still continue to err) we must never give up but must continually strive to lead noble lives that are worthy of God’s calling. True strength is in our ability to admit our failures, return to the true source of life and improve upon our past mistakes as we totally depend upon the Spirit of God to help and divinely enable us to be true SAINTS.