If mankind has ever been proud of anything, it certainly must be her humanity. Man has always known and believed that he is in many respects different from every other living thing. This is no false claim since the persuasion behind most of human actions, has always been informed by this healthy humanism. But notwithstanding the fact that this humanism has proven a lot salutary for mankind in all the meanderings and frustrations of history, one shudders in amazement over the modern man’s growing discontent with it. Yes! There is a new humanism reaching out to us from the sleeve of the modern man, a humanism whose sole aim is to redefine the humanity of man. The emphasis has now shifted from possibilities to limitations, from optimism to pessimism, from wellness to sickness. Man is now heir to many strange and unaccountable maladies. His nature is now found to be smitten with mysterious sicknesses that have their causes tucked away in primordial notches, where the possibility of any cure appears alien and exotic. And Despite the fact that these sicknesses are far from flattering to human nature, expected remedies have been usurped by certain propagandist moves being made by the western mind, to redefine the humanity of man in the gray light of such disorders and abnormalities. Foremost in this move was Sigmund Freud whose psycho-sexual theories altered the time-honoured paradigms of human sexuality. Freud taught that there resides in every human nature a repository, a seething cauldron of powerful biological instincts and an unbridled sexual restiveness. He maintained that the deepest essence of human nature consists of instinctual, irrational and bestial impulses. The unfortunate thing is not that Freud has this terrible view about our humanity, but that the modern man has taken Freud too serious and so believes that every sexual inclination is normal and acceptable. Today modern man is not just under the pain of death to express every of his sexual whims but there is also powerful propagandist moves being made to promote all forms of sexual behaviour. For instance, in 1972 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, and in 2003, the U.S Supreme Court struck down laws against sodomy. Today the major professional, psychological, sociological and health associations in the United States regard homosexuality as a normal sexual variation. (cf. Human Sexuality: Diversity in contemporary America 5th edition, Bryan Strong et al)
The recent article on gay debate attributed to Chimamanda is a giant stride in the one effort to bridge, not just the dividing line securing what is sexually normal from what is sexually deviant, but also to redefine our humanity along such crooked lines as sexual disorder and abnormality. The author of that fine article has argued that there is humility and humanity in accepting that there are things we simply don’t know. This is a strong case and very plausible at that but we must watch it. There is always a danger in placing the weight of our humanity on anything negative like say ignorance. I remember a certain scholar arguing that nothing is wrong with ignorance but added that to make a career out of it is stupidity. Ok! Even if It is assumed that we may never know with certainty whether certain sexual orientations are right or wrong, the proof of our humanity will always lie in our effort to know and not on the fact that we don’t know. There is no humanity in making a career out of ignorance. Aristotle believes that our humanity is proven more in our desire to know and as such asserted that all men by nature desire to know. Knowledge not ignorance is power.
On a second thought, can it really be true that we can’t actually speak with certainty on the nature of homosexuality as a sexual reality? I doubt that we can’t. There is always a measure in the nature of things. The measure in anything defines and sets the limit of that thing. It is like stepping into what G.K Chesterton described as the world of facts. The moment you step into the world of facts says Chesterton; you step into a world of limits. Now to talk about sexuality, we must talk about its facts or measure which defines, limits and gives sexuality its true seal. The measure of sexuality is procreation. Any attempt to consider sexuality by glossing over its measure as a procreative faculty amounts to suspect. The Greeks were guilty of this charge in all the many ways human sexuality served them as something good for fun. Homosexuality for all the reservations anybody or the world might have against its criminalization is purely for fun. But it is really unfortunate what could in human standard pass for fun. Everyone reserves the best of his clothes for special occasions. The ear is for hearing, the eye is for seeing, the nose is for breathing and nobody has ever had to debate on why the eye should be reserved solely for seeing, or ear be reserved solely for hearing, but when it comes to human genitalia, people seem to be under necessity of a sort to find all the possible reasons why the man’s penis and the woman’s vagina should not be reserved for the sacred duty of procreation. This is nothing but sheer hypocrisy. In his famous tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, Hans Christian Anderson aptly made a jest of this tendency in man to assume normalcy in the face of abnormality, with the story of an emperor who stalked naked past the gaze of his subjects, on the false claim that he was wearing a new clothe that threw an opaque hallow over his obvious nudity. But save for the little child who braved the courage and cried out that the emperor was not wearing anything at all, the people would have maintained their collective denial, that the naked emperor before them was not without a clothe. But as G.K Chesterton would always say, you can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their nature. The utopians can ridicule gold, diamonds, pearls and carbuncles by using them as fetters for slaves and thieves or toys for children, as Thomas More made us understand from his classic Utopia, they can never make gold and the sorts lose their unique measure as priceless nuggets of ornamental value. Therefore, no matter how the modern man decides to go about sexuality, the fact remains that sexuality has a measure and any sexual orientation that contradicts that measure is abnormal.
Another strong case made by the author of that fine piece is this. “A crime is a crime for a reason. A crime has victims. A crime harms society. On what basis is homosexuality a crime?” Now how could one be so be bothered by the law that criminalizes gay and yet fails to see for certain a new humanism that has been meaning to criminalize our humanity? As Chimamanda accuses Nigerian government of being guilty of berated sense of proportion, for neglecting sensitive and pressing issues like epileptic electricity, Boko-Haram terrorism and joblessness, she is also guilty of similar charge, for fighting law that criminalizes gay rights while neglecting the powerful propagandist moves criminalizing our collective humanity. Has she been able to inquire why the American Psychiatric Association in 1972 removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders and regarded it as a normal sexual variation? Ok maybe she thought it was for the same reason that made it normal for some to tilt their sexuality towards bestiality, paedophilia and even incest. Chimamanda might likely raise an objection regarding some of these sexual variations I just mentioned, but since she has succeeded in not only moving sexuality beyond its traditional measure, but has also redefined our humanity beyond the claims of healthy humanism, there can never be an end to human depravity. This is quite concerning but unless we acknowledge that there should be a limit to what can lay claim to our humanity, the death of our humanity becomes inevitable. In Simon Winchester’s classic novel The Professor and the Mad Man, one discovered how the humanity of William Chester Minor was destroyed. As a fine surgeon serving at the American army during the Civil War, William Chester Minor was exposed to various degrees of injuries afflicting the warring soldiers. What destroyed Minor’s humanity was not the exposure to the gaping wounds and broken skulls of the warring soldiers for it was his mission to cure them. It was rather the traumatizing experience of being compelled to go beyond the physician’s role of saving life, to brand the faces of deserted soldiers, with red hot iron that left an indelible scar on their faces that shattered his humanity. By the time Minor left his war mission, he was already raving mad, had to kill one George Merrett and ended up in prison. This is the danger that lurks when our humanity is redefined from the gray light of disorder and abnormality.
Lastly even the claim that links homosexuality to nature beggars some questions. Nature can be mean and wild but can never be malicious. When nature places an impediment on any of her children, she has a way of compensating such people. Those who are blind are known for being hyper sensitive with regard to other senses. The lame or the cripple are known to be ambidextrous. This is the way of Mother Nature. No wonder Shakespeare claims that there is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. Even Eric Hoffer believes that man has a special providence for improvement in those areas where nature has short-changed him by playing one kind of fast game on his nature. According to him; “The source of man’s creativeness lies in his deficiencies; he creates to compensate himself for what he lacks. He became Homo faber- a maker of weapons and tools- to compensate for his lack of specialized organs. He became Homo ludens- a player, tinkerer and artist- to compensate for his lack of inborn skills… he became a thinker to compensate for the ineffectualness of his instincts.” Ever wonder why Christians preach that God’s love for sinners is so great. This is to tell us that nature is in special solidarity with people of peculiar challenges. This is the way of Mother Nature, ever mindful and compassionate to those of her children who are maimed and challenged in many ways. So nature being ever provident for man can never be a scapegoat for human weaknesses. On the contrary it is man who is the problem. Unlike nature, man can be malicious since he brings logic to his madness. Therefore this move to make nature an alibi for human depravity is novel and even strange. It will not only destroy our humanity as humans but will also make it impossible for any human progress. Finally, telling gay people that there sexual variation is normal in order not to make them feel marginalized is not fair. It is like what Chimamanda described as a patronizing well-meaning pity. The best way to appreciate the humanity of our gay brothers and sisters is to tell them the truth of their condition and encourage them to seek for remedy. It is like telling a cancer patient that his condition is really bad so that he can seek for cure. Humanity is ever disposed for change and improvement. Let’s not think that anybody (even our gay friends) is born with a fundamental judgment that rules out the possibility of change and improvement.
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