Dwelling in past misfortunes and past glories is anathema to progress

Hanging in the past is what has precariously captured modern societies. Progress cannot be achievable, as long as humans are stuck in the past. The past glory cannot be attractive to normal people. The more a person is stuck in the past, the more insane he/she would be. This is what may have possibly evaded the psychoanalysts in their quest for understanding human behaviour.

A normal person does not dwell in the past. The only way he can be identified, is by his occupation with the present time, preparing for the future. Otherwise, obsession with the past, whether good or bad; is a menu for the insane people. Obsession with the past is observed when entertaining infatuation with culture.

The sense of pride is derived from cultural norms that individuals adhere to. But culture is derived from past achievements. Individual countries are identified by their obsession with their culture, although, other cultures are more sustainable than others. Rich cultural values carry an advantage, calculated according to the betterment of human survival. This is common sense.

Chaminuka lived his time. Only the insane, would advocate that his legacy should be maintained in the present time. This goes for every other man with assumed great ideas of the past. The children, who dwell in the comfort of successful achievements of their fathers or grandfathers, are hopeless. The successful are those currently occupied with the present when preparing for the future.

Failing to grasp the reality that the past is gone recycles past problems, over and over again. In Matabeleland, there are people emotionally obsessed with regurgitating Gugukurahundi, even with its atrocious experiences. Their intention is to pressurize the present government to account, for what happened. But the same goes for every other misbehaviour requiring the government to account.

This should not be construed as downplaying the effects of Gukurahundi. As having deliberately prejudiced other humans, perpetrators deserve prosecution, to account for their heinous crimes. This did not happen and has not happened, even after more than forty years of government existence. Culturally, it is human to mourn for the dead. But rationally, it is unnecessary to mourn for the dead.

The roots of culture are in the past but assumed necessary to sustain those living in the present time. This is where the curse of humanity dwells. The only reason Gukurahundi remains problematic, after many years, is sustained in the idea of keeping it in the present time. Do forty-year-old adults need to mete justice against the perpetrators in their twilight years of existence on earth?

The poignant question is on who benefits and who loses in that vindictive warfare? The hegemonic perpetrators cannot claim to have a brighter future to preserve, anymore. Most of them are dead, anyway. Whether their offspring supported them or not, is neither here nor there. The point is, how progressive can a nation be when dwelling in those evil moments of the Gukurahundi fiasco?

A civilized nation is obsessed with the present time, preparing for the future. Being civilized requires appreciating the fact that highlighting the past is counterproductive. There is no time to think about the future when obsessed with the past. Emotions should not substitute sane reasoning. Jesus brought an effective way of dealing with past transgressions.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:38-45 NIV).

The above does not make sense to those obsessed with culture. It does not make sense to those in need of justice. It does not make sense to those having lost their loved ones. But it, certainly, makes sense to those appreciating that life is in the present time, to prepare for the brighter future. Obsession with the need for justice is in the present time. But its quest for bringing justice against the perpetrators creates, in its stead, the gloomy future.

The mechanics involved with meting justice against the perpetrators creates anxiety with the close relatives of the perpetrators. This is when considering the fact that most of those perpetrators are no more. It should not be a question of meting justice against perpetrators, but the idea of preparing for the future. Revenge can never be exhaustive, as creating counter-revenge.

What Jesus said should not be interpreted as cowardice. It represents the opposite of cowardice, necessary in obliterating the past. This should be viewed as common sense rather than religious sentiment. Jesus holds the stable datum of human survival. Opposing Him carries the trajectory towards death.

In the lunacy of obsession with the past, will always be ideas of celebrating the dead, rather than the living. In our country, the dead are celebrated more than the living. Our Heroes’ Acre is celebrated more than any other monument. Some people are willing to travel from afar, to bury their dead. But the same would not be willing to travel such distances, attending to the sick.

The funeral undertaking business is most thriving in Zimbabwe. This includes the artistry in designing tombstones. There is no reason for the obsession with such, except the preservation of culture, found to be more important than common sense. The funeral industry is most successful in conning people.

But I would be lying between my teeth when insinuating that things could be normal without funeral undertakers. This is just as it is true that the most successful businesses are those doing the opposite of what is necessary for human survival. Think of the tobacco and alcohol industries. The social fabrics of societies are sustained by those vices. Without them, life is deemed meaningless.

It is impossible to exhaust the negative conduct, embraced as normal, but producing the opposite of reasonable progress in societies. People need life, but they clamour for the opposite of life. They do not want death, but they cajole everything sustaining death. Normal things are rejected as abnormal, while abnormal things are fashionable and commonly accepted by the majority.

The negativity of dwelling in the past should not be limited to bad experiences. Most achievers become victims of their achievements. Nothing is oxymoronic about that, as observable in all sectors of human living. The most unsuccessful people are those dwelling in past glories. Those are the people who love boasting about how intelligent they were, at school.

They love talking about how successful they once were, in business, for instance. But they will blame others for their inability to sustain such past achievements. This behaviour is what even creates pride in tribal identities. If theirs was a conquering tribe in the olden days, nothing serves, to extricate such tribal descendants from the condition of having been a conquering tribe.

Only if our war veterans could be helped to understand that their own undoing is in the area of dwelling in the past. They continue to glamorously embrace the pristine nostalgia of having fought in the liberation struggle. Nevertheless, that serves to remove the glory attached to bringing independence. When the gun got silenced, it could not have been necessary to continue talking about war.

The most crucial engagement in the early 1980s ought to have been taking stock of existing resources across the country. The bank of expertise ought to have been jealously guarded, more than harnessing other considered valuable assets, at that time. Such expertise could have then been manipulated, not only to sustain the renovations but to plan for even better products in future.

In Zimbabwe, things like the internet were accidental, rather than planned for. This is why Strive Masiyiwa had to engage in almost unwinnable battles with the government. The sin of Strive was in suggesting what could potentially reduce the glory of the powers that be. The manifestation of problems, glaring at people’s faces, can only capture the eyes of the intelligent, except those choosing to remain in slumber.

Today, Strive Masiiwa’s innovative ideas could arguably be the kingpin in sustaining Zimbabwe’s waning economy, whether Mthuli Ncube likes it or not. While the government boastfully talks about past achievements, it prefers silence on goofs such as the former drama against Strive Masiiwa’s business ventures. How can such duplicity be acceptable in a civilized environment?

Such lunacy cannot be limited to Zimbabwe. History is told of the executives of a giant Swiss-watch-making company, rejecting the idea of digitalization, suggested by young experts. The former gigantic watch-making organization was reduced to insignificance, due to its dwelling in the comfort of past successes. There can never be progress among those enjoying the comfort, derived from the past.

Sadly, this is a malady, having also affected modern Christianity. Although professing to follow the teachings of Jesus, especially in the area of humility, Christian organizations are victims of past achievements. I could be wrong to say they deliberately reject the truth.

They are completely oblivious of pride, being the enemy of change. Once an SDA, always an SDA. Once a Methodist, always a Methodist. The list goes on, ad infinitum. None is willing to consider another’s viewpoints. They focus on how wrong the other group would be, rather than how right the other group could be.

They may, actually, be familiar with Scriptures, concerning the idea of loving another person as self. But they miss it on the idea of wanting to be right where the other would be wrong. It is about proving to be right where everyone else is wrong, rather than proving God as right, where everyone else is wrong.

“What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?  Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being, a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.)” (Romans 3:3-5 NIV).

The voice of the Lord suggests that; to be effective, one needs to be humble, regardless of past achievements. What goes without saying is that the person is at his weakest point, when highlighting his past glories. This is why the saying goes; “pride comes before a fall.” Contrary to what may be commonly accepted, boastful people are the weakest people, the world has ever known.

Criminals never highlight their past mistakes. They are only good at highlighting their strengths. I would go as far as suggesting this viewpoint to potential employers. While necessary to be balanced, when checking the profile of an individual, it is more than necessary to check his weaknesses. Criminals are generally articulate in highlighting their past achievements. That is the only reason why ordinary people get easily duped.

As an employer, I would first seek to discern areas of the person’s weaknesses and what he would have done about those weaknesses. I would then examine how comfortable the person would be in his strong areas. The best candidates are those desiring to grow, even from their positions of strengths. They appreciate what they are, not for pride purposes, but for what they can do to prepare for the future.

There is no other degree of normalcy in this world. Those carrying the future hope are in the present time but obsessed with preparing for the future. The rest are either the pretenders or the raving psychotics. Otherwise, there is no other magic in the projects involving human development. All humans were created to be of service until reaching their destiny at the grave.

The livelihood of future generations is bleak, as long as those of the current generation are obsessed with the past. On the other hand, the livelihood of future generations is bright, as long as those of the current generation are obsessed with preparing for the future. This ought to be viewed as common sense more than considered as a religious sentiment.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.

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