Hear Me Out

Anne Hambuda

There is no human on this earth who has transcended this plane of existence and somehow become more important or more valuable than anyone else.

We are all made of the same flesh and bone, and at the end of our respective lifespans we will all return to the ground and decompose back into the same thing.

None of us know what the f*#k is going on.

We are all just born on this planet randomly and against our will, and then forced to be alive and interact with the other randoms around us.

All the rules that exist today we made up ourselves, because societies just happened to develop in certain ways.

Some 100 years ago, social norms comprised a completely different set of rules.

The same goes for norms 500 years ago, 2 000 years ago or 50 000 years ago when we were painting in caves.

We kind of just make things up that make sense in the context of the era we live in.

We are born, given some rules, grow old, pass those rules on, and then we die.

Repeat this process for a few generations, and you’ll see that how we understand ourselves and each other is forever evolving.

But at the core of it, to me, we are like a bunch of primary schoolers who have been left on a desert island.

Some of the six-year-olds may think they know more than the others, but they truly don’t. Humanity is an unsupervised group of children running around, confused and doing the best with what they have.

Depending on your religious or spiritual inclinations, I’m sure you believe there is an adult somewhere out there looking out for the stranded children, while keeping their distance.

The teacher can represent God, the universe or even a being in the fourth dimension. Either way, the children are effectively on their own. That’s us. We are those children. We are here and we are doing what we can. No one can say for sure if there is a teacher out there, or why we are here or who is in charge.

That is the point I am trying to make: That we are all equally just here by chance. So who can really say what the rules are supposed to be? There are the obvious ones we can all agree on: Do not harm others, or do not steal from others.

Then there are the more loose and nuanced rules that don’t serve as great a purpose – how we dress, what we do with our time, who we associate with, and so on.

Let’s say in this thought experiment there are now two separate but similar islands populated by children. They each develop on their own, and an entirely different set of social norms are created and developed for each. This all happens by chance, of course.

So, something that may be wrong on the first island could be perfectly acceptable on the other.

Between both groups of people, who would you say is doing things the correct way? Could anyone who lives on either island ever be impartial enough to determine that?

I believe the answer is “no”.

The children of the island must just agree on what they deem normal and abnormal behaviour, and then work out processes and procedures for maintaining order while preserving the things that transcend all others – the human rights to agency and to life.

So what am I actually saying?

What does the island have to do with anything?

Well, if you are a human being with human emotions, I’m sure you can find it in your heart to empathise with some of the recent tragedies that have befallen our nation.

Most notably, a young Namibian trans woman has been stabbed multiple times and then mutilated and left dead.

No matter what you believe about human sexuality or gender identity and expression, I’m sure you can find it within yourself to be disturbed by such a horrific crime.

We must reject this behaviour at all turns. My fear is that if we subscribe to the idea of murdering anyone who does not colour within the lines, any one of us could be next.

Because, as I said earlier, none of us actually are more important than anyone else. We are all on this earth trying to find meaning and purpose, so no one can say for sure they have the instruction manual for how to be a human being.

The way women and men dress is a complete fabrication of human creativity. On another island, maybe men are wearing frilly skirts, or maybe clothing isn’t gendered to begin with.

Who are we to police someone’s outward expression when the rules are literally all made up and constantly changing?

Make-up, high heels, stockings, leggings and many other things were originally for men, and then things changed – we changed.

You know why? Because it’s all a social construct.

Let’s stand together as Namibians and reject and shun murderers, mutilators, aggressors, bigots and phobes.

Let’s choose acceptance, understanding and progression.

– Anne Hambuda is a writer, social commentator and poet. Follow her online, or email her at annehambuda@gmail.com for more.

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