Mr O: How do you do it? How have you managed, for so long, to keep your people in subjection for your own profit? They occasionally sense that things are not quite right. They even talk about it among themselves. And, once in a while, they even say it to your face. How have you managed, for so long, to keep them docile, not daring?
Mr Jailer (smiling): I keep them afraid and busy. They have to feed themselves. They have to feed their loved ones. They know this. I keep them afraid of not being capable of doing that. And, then, I keep them busy; so busy that they have neither the time nor the mental space to think deeply about what really matters, about the state of the world they live in, talk more of doing something real about it. Would it profit me if they were unafraid!
Mr Jailer: I keep them ‘illuded’ and chasing. Every one of them craves success of self. Every one of them wants to be better off or more successful, not than their previous selves but than their neighbour. How much they currently have – of money, of love, of whatever – will not matter if it is not better or more than what their neighbour has. They are not always honest enough with themselves to admit this to themselves. And those who are noble enough to admit this to themselves are not always honest enough with others to admit it to others. I keep them chasing success of self, subjecting success of family or team or community or nation to success of self. As long as self precedes family or team or community or nation, there is sufficient room for division. Would it profit me if they were united in purpose!
Mr Jailer: I keep them distracted. A good number of them would rather seek ‘escape’ than face the reality they live in head on. I keep them distracted with fads and thought-numbing entertainment. This number would rather not think deeply enough or far out enough, talk more of rising in opposition to the systems I have put in place for my profit. Would it profit me if they were able to think deeply for themselves!
Mr O: And what happens if, in some freak instance, some of them defy these tactics?
Mr Jailer: I torture them. I kill them. You know, my people do not want to die even when most of them are living or working in conditions that are not worth living or working in, even when things are in a state that is not worth continuing in. My people would rather continue ‘safe’, in a horrible, abysmal state of things than risk their heads standing up for what they believe in or fighting for a better state of things. And so, I torture and kill those ones who dare to persist in fighting back so that the others see and learn and fall back in line soon enough. Again, would it profit me if they were unafraid and united!
(Originally written on the 16th of October 2020, inspired by the #EndSARS protests that took place in Nigeria then.)
This is a work of fiction.
Photo by Liam Edwards on Unsplash