Touria Prayag's Blog

L’express Weekly, 8 October 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on October 8, 2010

Editorial Click here to read l’Express Weekly

 

Of confidence tricksters and ruthless exploiters

The latest crime which shook the nation last week is not the most hideous we have ever heard of. Digging up and decapitating a corpse is certainly sinister, gruesome and most unsettling for the family concerned but it is devoid of cruelty. What I mean is that if some unscrupulous deranged psychopath decided to chop my head off, I had much rather he waited until I was lying peacefully in my grave before he went ahead with his senseless act. This is why part of my sympathy goes to the perpetrators of last week’s interference with the peace of a soul which did nothing to deserve the fate meted out to it.

My sympathy, limited I hasten to say, towards the cemetery criminals springs from my belief that they are the real victims. Victims of ignorance. Victims of their own naiveté. Victims of unscrupulous predators who make a living out of witchcraft and preying on credulous people.

Humans have evolved from tribal beliefs through to today’s scientifically-influenced society. One would think that superstition would have quietly passed into extinction as education has replaced it with rational thought. It is, however, astounding how gullible we have remained. We are still gripped with irrational fears and senseless beliefs maintained by ignorance of the laws of nature or by faith in magic or chance. One day, we wake up to discover a statue which “drinks milk” and we leave everything behind to go and participate in attenuating its thirst. Another day, we hear of another statue which is weeping and we all queue up to share in its agony. The other day, someone allegedly saw seven dwarfs and lost his power of speech. What would he have lost if he had seen Snow White?

The implications of this utterly appalling situation go much further than just having some unhinged weirdoes opening graves and tampering with their contents. The most dangerous thing is that such irrational beliefs are instilled into the minds of children from a very early age. Adults, they fall prey to witch doctors and, again because they are   looking for miraculous solutions, some come under the influence of sects. Between the one and the other, there is only one step.

Education is, of course, the one force which works to defeat superstition and prejudice as it shatters people’s illusions and self-created fantasy worlds. For it to work, one has to be prepared to let go of the warmth of one’s dreams. But, as Francis Bacon said, “People prefer to believe what they prefer to be true.”

In the jungle of illusion, there is no limit to the nonsensical beliefs that people invent to keep themselves firmly protected from the wicked realities of life. Throw in a few witch doctors or –even better– some “positive thinking gurus” and you have a ruthless system where brainwashing and exploitation are rife. Uneducated brains which know no science, reason or logic are generally easy to fill with trivial fluff, inane old wives’ tales and dangerous nonsense.

Routing out superstition is hindered not only by a lack of education but is also crippled by our reluctance to criticize. Naturally, everyone has the right to harbour any beliefs they like and argue for them to their heart’s delight, but they should not be allowed to freely inflict them on gullible people. The law, while respecting individual beliefs, has a duty to stretch its long arm and deal with confidence tricksters and ruthless exploiters of all guilds. In the ocean of illusion, the state has to make its sane voice heard.

weekly@lexpress.mu

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