Locked and Bolted gates!

No more a resident of Arada! That’s me. Having relocated to the outskirts of the city, I just hope that the ‘Arada Phenomenon’ – if there had ever been anything like that – has left me thought I’ve physically left Arada. A couple of friends joked maybe they should take turns to remind what life in Arada meant as it is as easy as a blink or two to lose such memories these days. But also there is the task of learning the ways of your new surroundings. I can tell you that one thing that spoils the whole show is that we’ve preconceived notions of places as I tried to mention in earlier pieces. Quite a number of us including me had an already set-in-stone ideas about the place I reside in now. It’s astounding how wrong one can be in such matters. The picture archived in our minds and the actual picture are so far apart you wonder where from the world all the misconceptions came. A few friends dropped by and they were as taken aback as I was.

The problem here is wrong misconceptions keep you from navigating places you should have seen for yourselves.

“How about looking for a house in….?”

“Are you kidding me? Do you think I’m a fool to pack my bags and go that hellish place! It’ll never happen.”

“But you’ve never seen it? How can you be so sure it wouldn’t be convenient for you?”

“I’ve enough information from friends and others and I don’t have to see it for myself.”

Yes most of us never see those places, not even for a few seconds, and yet we think we’re entitled to write volumes about them. It is the same with people we don’t personally know but talk about like experts based on what we’ve heard from others. “So how did you find the place?” some ask me.

“Well, until now I’ve found it a fairly comfortable place. Nothing much to be irritated about though there are other aspects I still have to know about. I tell you such positive answers at first bring about the nasty smirks and those internal rumblings of “Does this dude think we’re a bunch of fools!” Though such reactions aren’t nice it is only fair to look at what drove them to act as such. Of course, preconceived pictures and narratives! Those are forcing them to keep the gates locked and bolted and refuse to open them even with the slightest of cracks. I’m saying most of us, if not all, have already been biased to the point of reacting with hostility than having rational, intelligent discussions.

“Are you telling me you actually live in that place?”

“Yes, I am. What’s wrong with it?”

“What’s wrong is you yourself! What’s got into you?”

Then they go into narratives dissecting the place you live in into the tiniest of pieces! Almost all the sentences with things like “They say…” “I’ve heard that place has…” “A friend of mine told me…”and the like. “In fact I can tell you I should have moved sooner!”

The stories you are told would have left Hollywood rushing to recruit the minds behind such creativity. They even tell you about the stories which happened “… a few days ago.” What! You have been there all the time and haven’t heard these stories! You’re not going to take that sitting down and outright reject what you’ve been told.

“Nothing of that sort happened not only a few days ago even years ago.”

“How do you know that?”

“What kind of a stupid question is that? Have you forgotten I’m a resident of the place you dummy?”

While we are at it, there are a lot of misconceptions about people we don’t personally know and yet are told all kinds of horrors stories; horror stories which, very unfortunately, we believe more time than not. It’s sad to hear people’s names being trampled upon like useless waste based on purely unsubstantiated and most of the time deliberately twisted, ‘biographical narratives.’ No wonder places, too, are painted with the wrong colors that don’t fit what they are made of and what they actually represent.

One trend that takes most of us in the wrong directions seem to be that few of us, if any, ask important questions which would have done away with all the fictional chapters we’re fed. Of course we might ask “How do you know that?” and the answers would be like “Friends told me…” “I heard it from reliable sources…” or to give things more emphasis they’d say something like, “Why, everyone is talking about that. Don’t tell me you haven’t yet heard!” Ok, here should be where the real questions begin;

“How can you believe everything others tell you?”

“Because they know; that’s why. Should I suspect everyone of telling me lies.”

“No, I’m not saying that, But, at least you can make some minor investigations…”

“Like what?”

“Like talking to people who actually live in those places”

“Why should I go through all that trouble while there are people who know everything tell me the real story?”

“But wouldn’t it have been better if you heard it from the horse’s mouth itself?”

“To tell you I wouldn’t believe those who actually live there. They wouldn’t tell you the real story.”

“But why? Why do you think they wouldn’t tell you the real story?”

“Well they want people to think they are living the best life while they actually are suffering.”

That’s what I was trying to say mentioning about locked and bolted gates! The danger of preconceived notions and pictures could be devastating! These days most of us have wrong ideas and notions built on wrong bricks and have solidified to the point of not giving way whatever the push might be. I’m not talking here about the social media and such things which are somewhat difficult to control lest we fully part them. I’m talking about day daily people-to-people social interactions. That’s where the gushing contaminated and damaging rivers of wrong narratives gush while the streams of true and reliable stories trickle only few, if any, notice them.

Ephrem Endale Contributer

The Ethiopian herald May 26/2024


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