THE HUMAN SUBSTANCE

< why “accident-based” shaming is plain stupidity >

The word “accident” sitting up there isn’t the one you’d find in a conventional dictionary. It doesn’t mean “happening by chance, unintentionally, or unexpectedly.” The word seats on that subtitle with the meaning it bears in Aristotle’s ontology, “an attribute that does not affect the essence of a subject.” And “essence” here would be exemplified by the “chairness” in every chair whether they be made of wood, plastic, concrete, whatever. This is the lowest I could go; so sorry if you didn’t quite get it. Let’s move on.

Two inspiring documents I came across in the course of fulfilling the requirements of “Philosophy of Human Rights” during my sophomore year at university were the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Declaration of Independence. It is stated in both documents, and eloquently so, that “all humans” are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights. From them, and my teacher Dr. Ani, I learnt that the passport to accessing the human rights and its attendant equality and dignity is the human essence – never the accidents!

I intend to take this conversation a bit further, to the effect that it is plain stupid to rate, treat, judge, or shame people based on anything outside of the human essence. Markedly, the human essence is whatever you see in any animal that makes you recognize it as a human being, whether they be tall or short, black or white, whole, infirmed or challenged, Nigerian or Icelander. lol!

It’s being a matter of serious concern for me that we’re increasingly basing our assessment of people, and shaming them, on the grounds of the Aristotelian accidents. Nine of them: quality, quantity, relation, place, time, position, state, action, and affection. Add ‘substance’ to that list and you’ve Aristotle’s Categories; ten of them.

Look up the stats and find that the number of women going under the knife is on an alarming increase; it has come to stay that women are shamed for not having full bosoms and well-rounded backsides. There are even crazier trends that I’ve held myself back from mentioning. It’s such a shame that we pretend to forget that no human being came in a preferred condition. Show me who chose to be short, who preferred to be poor, who went for less rather than more. You tell me, what did the beauty queens do differently to deserve their looks? The most they do is protect what they already have, what they were ‘given.’ Why would some women literally sniff the manhood off their men for not being gorgeously endowed? Why not simply research a friendlier position. [This very one is not my handwriting]

What about height? There’s more than one way to be short, and tall parents is no guarantee. There’s the place of recessive genes, nutriment, and hormones; none of which is not the short man’s fault. lol! And so, to genuinely shame a person for being brief in height is one way to be stupid. lol! What about my gateman, Abdulahi? He’s Nigerien, knows no word of English, generously smiles at everyone, wears me out with asking for alms. lol! What did Abdulahi do to deserve his social status? Sincerely, one way to measure my level of stupidity is to observe how I treat him. And I’m lucky to have known better.

We should think twice before we shame people. Having thought twice, we’d realize that shaming people, particularly on “accidentally” grounds, is a show of stupidity.

Your No.1 fan,
Cornel

PS. The choice of “stupid” is intentional. I needed the message to sting whoever is guilty as charged. I didn’t mean to be rude.

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