Two neighbours, who were rather dense,
Considered that their mutual fence
Were more symbolic of their peace
(Which they maintained should never cease)
If each about his home and garden
Set up a more substantial warden.
Quickly they cleared away the fence
To build a wall at great expense;
And soon their little plots of ground
Were barricaded all around:
Yet still they added stone to stone,
As if they never would be done,
For when one neighbour seemed to tire
The other shouted: Higher! Higher!
Thus day by day in their unease,
They built the battlements of peace
Whose shadows, like a gathering blot,
Darkened on each neglected plot,
Until the ground, so overcast,
Became a rank and weedy waste.
Now in obsession they uprear;
Jealous and proud, and full of fear:
And, lest they halt for lack of stone,
They pull their dwelling-houses down.
At last, by their insane excess,
Their ramparts guard a wilderness;
And hate, arising out of shame,
Flares up into a wondrous flame:
They curse; they strike; they break the wall
Which buries them beneath its fall.
The Poem, Parable, by the Scottish Poet, William Souter, properly captured the state of existence in today’s world. The theme of the poem is on the destructive attitudes of man towards himself, nature and his neighbours in the guise of seeking for peace. It talks about two neighbours, desperate to see that they do not have problems with one another, cut off everything and anything that could severe their peace. Together they worked hard and tirelessly to erect structures that could improve this peace, destroying nature and their wellbeing in the process. Their lives and relationships, which should be given care and protection, was spent protecting their properties and possessions, something less. While they erected tall fences with natural materials to preserve their belongings, their relationship towards each other, their cooperation in building themselves and humanism, was in peril but none could see it. All these was motivated by fear and security. Fear of what the two harbour for each other. In the name of fear and security, they lost their sound health of mind, their bodies depreciated and the natural materials they burned in the process also made their habitat a very dangerous place to live in. They didn’t notice what was happening to them or the environment until the structures they built to guard their peace destroyed them.
The human race is still here because of the relationships we have had over time with one another. We have existed in thousands of years of recorded History because there was a continuous communion of the residents of the earth. Their have been problems of ignorance but we have risen above them to a better level of knowledge. Nature has always provided and treated us with the choices we make. Whatever action we take she returns to us the effect(s). Our bodies have not been left out either. Because we are composed of chemicals and minerals, atoms and elements that respond to reactions, our actions to one another and nature is also treated like a chemical reaction. The human race have always gotten what they asked for. Nature and our bodies have been just. There is an increase in depression in the land because we have sowed seeds of depression. We have built structures that allowed for depression. There is increased ozone layer depletion because we sowed seeds that allowed for the germination of ozone layer depletion. We designed structures that wore off the ozone layer. There are wars because we have planted seeds of wars. Even though we were not consulted before we were born, we have a role to safeguard where we found ourselves. While actions and responses to one another may be unjust, how nature responds to us is just.
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Communication and cooperation is good for our health as human beings. Communication and cooperation with nature also help create a positive relationship between us and nature. Epidemiologists(scientists who study the spread and control of diseases, viruses, concepts, etc., in various populations) have shown that their is a relationship between mental disorders like Depression, Schizophrenia etc., with the resident of an individual. They found out that people who live in urban communities have a higher rate of mental disorders compared to people living in the countryside or rural area. The people who live in the rural areas were mentally healthier than people living in urban communities. Despite the provisions of more basic amenities and the availability of more modern tools, individuals who lived in the urban centers were no match for those on the countryside. Stress and poor communication were largely responsible. The people in the rural areas are less stressed than the ones in the urban areas and performed better. It showed that the people we called rural had healthier minds than the ones we called urbanised. Because we have shut ourselves off with modern tools, because we have erected structures and words like ‘privacy’ to live ‘better lives’, because we acted words like ‘mind your business’ and ‘how does it affect you’, because we built walls to protect ourselves from ourselves, we left the business of healthy human interaction, something good for all, for the business of selfishness and solitude. And our rewards are psychotic illnesses like Depression.
In Nigeria, suicide, resulting from depression is on the rise. Something that rarely happened in the past is now becoming commonplace. About some months ago in Lagos, a young well to do Medical Doctor jumped into the Lagoon. The stories reported in the media suggested he was from a rich family. He had attempted suicide in the past and the family, scared of a repeat, convinced him to move around with a driver who served as their eyes. But still, the day he asked the driver to park before diving into the lagoon, nothing could stop him. He was described as a happy person and no other report from the family members suggested some sign of depression. He was not poor or wretched looking. He was not the unemployed, uneducated and unskilled poor man on the street. It seemed like he had everything going for him but no one knew what was inside. No one knew the personal battles he fought every day with sanity. No one knew that what was on the surface was just an optical illusion and doesn’t meet or agree with was within him. In the poem Richard Cory, Edwin Arlington Robinson wrote,
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich —yes, richer than a king
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
Their are so many people living the life of Richard Cory, waiting for the breaking point to pull the trigger and go off. Their are so many happy people around who are not truly happy but pretend to be and we accept whatever they present as evidence of happiness. The reason this is so is because of the loss of healthy human association and interaction, the loss of personal and human identity, and the encouragement of solitude and selfishness. These lead to a dangerous shedding away of the self and trust among ourselves. If we had great relationships with the people around us, if we were not brought up to consider personal aggrandizement as the principle thing, if we were brought up to work together rather than compete with each other, disappointments, as a result of failing to reach personal targets, will be rare and problem solving will be a communal thing and help our mental health. Because we conditioned our dopamine(a substance in the body responsible for sending reward or pleasure to the brain) from childhood, through non communal teachings and activities we got, to reward certain personal achievements, because we focused and prioritized individualism over communalism, when we fail to reach those individual set goals, our dopamine fails to inspire us and our depression process begins.
See what technology has done to us in the name of urbanisation! While these gadgets we use make life easier, we allowed them fulfill their potential for individualism. Now their are words like ‘privacy’ and ‘my business’ flying around. The same persons who shout and support these words turn back to the society to ask for a need when a problem arises. What exactly do we want? To live our lives selfishly, discouraging and encouraging human intervention when it suits us or we want the human race to unite in finding peace and true happiness? If we are interested in finding peace for the general population of our race why are we more concerned about personal peace than world peace? Even in our personal problems, when we interact and ask for help, there are elements of individualism laced around them. Once we get help, we go back to that selfish lifestyle. Now, we build physical fences to separate us from our ‘troublesome’ neighbours. We make laws to push certain people out of our land but in terms of material possessions, in terms of raising and filling our pockets with money and personal properties, we pull down those walls and make the exchange. Money has become more important than human life. Some may want to argue that the walls are results of the lifestyle of these neighbors but to counter that I say: if you understood your neighbour in the first place, if you loved peace in the first place, if you were more interested in fostering the cause of the human race like you claimed in the first place, their will be no need to erect them in the first place because your cooperation would have resolved the problem of lifestyle in the first place. You get that?
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We are happily cutting trees and building giant structures and getting more urbanized. We harm nature, change her properties through the reactions we offer her, but we don’t want to see a corresponding product. For those in Lagos, can you count up to ten trees in your area? We are also releasing toxic substances to the atmosphere, burning fuel and cracking the ozone layer(a layer or section in the atmosphere or sky that prevents the dangerous ultraviolet rays of the sun from reaching us directly). The primary motivational factor behind all these obsession for this type of urbanization is wealth and not health. How can a man burn himself on purpose because he wants more money to take care of himself? Why make yourself sick and rejoice in having the money to treat your sickness? We burn the protective lining protecting us because we want to be protected. Genius! Isn’t something big wrong with this reasoning? These is like a group of twelve, knowing they will be struck by lightening during a heavy rainfall, exit a car or their house into the heavy rain because there are pieces of gold the rain was trying to wash away. In the process, six died and six were paralyzed. But the paralysed six, rather than do something to prevent the repeat of such occurrence, preach about the strength and quality of the gold they picked.
According to the Attention Restorative Theory, people can concentrate better after spending time in nature, or even looking at scenes of nature. Natural environments abound with “soft fascinations” which a person can reflect upon in “effortless attention”, such as clouds moving across the sky, leaves rustling in a breeze or water bubbling over rocks in a stream. People get better faster if they surround themselves with elements of nature. Looking at nature or living around natural environments have been shown to be therapeutic. Some persons recovered faster after surgery simply by looking at the environment and natural scenes like trees and flowers. Stress can be relieved from this simple practise. But rather than build this, there is an increasing and dangerous level of afforestation. Energy too can be transfered to a person simply by rubbing the soles of their feet on grass. Rather than build more trees and plant more flowers to help our mental health, mind and body, we cut down trees and build more structures because we wrongly assumed that the body controls what happens to the mind.
Their is a battle between the urbanization of the mind and the urbanization of matter. While the majority of humanity believe that the mind is above matter and not vice versa, the structures they build to enhance the mind and body betray that assertion. It is at the mental level that developments responsible for other developments are built. The mind must be trained to associate with fellow mind and nature if their must be a healthy human development. While most schools, at the secondary level, prepare the student for entrepreneurship and wealth, little is taught about living mentally healthy or psychology. We are taught how to be responsible citizens, we are taught how to acquire money and live like Bill Gates, we are taught the history of our forefathers and men who built what we enjoy today, but, the vital lessons that will help us become better individuals, the mental lessons that should teach us what really should be prioritized, the principal lessons of association that will improve sanity and human-nature relationship, the urbanization of the mind, is left to evade us. We let the urbanisation of matter defeat the urbanization of the mind and pretend to live a rich life while in pain and experiencing depression. And because we built matter rather than the mind, it becomes difficult to relay to our families and friends what we are facing when we are down. At this point, we can see our mistakes. We can see our errors. And because we weren’t properly trained mentally, we find it hard to believe that the same persons who didn’t train our minds will understand this issue of the mind. And we jump out.
What do you think? Leave your comments below.