Learning to be human, by Eric Omazu

From August 13-20, 2018, yours sincerely joined no fewer than 8, 500 other philosophers from across the world in Beijing, China, to discuss the theme “learning to be human in the global times.” The event was the 24th World Congress of Philosophy and over 90 nations of the world were represented including our country, Nigeria.
What was easily noticeable from the theme of the conference is the fact that our nativity alone does not confer automatic human character on us.
You can log on to the YouTube to watch videos of human beings who inadvertently learnt to be animals.
What those people became in terms of their manners, their habits, their thoughts, their associations, and so on, reinforces the point which I have stated above, that the fact of our nativity alone does not make us humans.
From the presentations made in the conference, it was clear that most traditions of the world have invested heavily on teaching their people how to be human in this global time.
We were entertained with stories of state and corporate resources invested by most nations to this effect.
And surprisingly, the leading nations in this practice are the same nations that hold the light in science and technology.
One thing stands out among these nations and that is the realisation of the dehumanising tendency of science and technology and the need to arrest it using the instrumentality of the humanities.
They all were unanimous that it is as humans that the progress of science and technology makes meaning to us.
To our animal brethren, say ape, the acclaimed ancestor of our species; for instance, the story that some individuals have conquered the law of gravity and, therefore, paid visit to the moon, holds no meaning.
The main driving fear of the entire process of learning to be human is the potential destruction of the planet and all of its civilisations if by chance the control of their complex structures is left in the hands of individuals who have not learnt to be humans.
The world reclines at the historical prototype of such individuals and wishes to consign to the dustbin of history the thought and system of action hich they represent.
Names that come to mind in this regard are Nero, Hitler, and Idi Amin, among so many others.
It is instructive that while the rest of the world has made progress in this regard, Africa has regressed.
During the continental meetings of all participants, it was discovered most shamefully that in a conference that discusses this important topic and where about 8500 participants were gathered, Africa had less than 30 persons representing it.
And when it was time to discuss the efforts made by the various African countries in teaching their citizens to be humans, it was painfully discovered that no country in Africa has subscribed to this project yet.
The biggest effort is by our country, Nigeria, where the president of Philosophers Association of Nigeria, Professor Jim Unah, disclosed that the association is collaborating with UNESCO, in packaging a proposal that will be sent to the government.
Nobody can say for sure whether the government will accept this proposal or not but it is a bridge which everyone hopes we will be able to cross when we get to it.
Before then, it is important to point out that the unbridled massacre and desecration of human lives that is widespread in our country is symptomatic of a nation that has not taught its citizens how to be human.
We have been content to think that what nature gives us is enough to direct our path as humans.
We should have known better by now, what with the ease with which security agents murder persons they are paid to protect, the growing attraction which Boko Haram holds in the minds of some young citizens, and the incessant massacre of citizens by men alleged to be herdsmen.
The single word that is definitive of all these phenomena is inhuman.
The tragedy about them is that outside the shores of this nation, we all, as Nigerians, are defined by this pejorative term.
But we must device a means to arrest this process and retrieve our collective humanity from forces that are driving it into animality.
The time to do this is now.
And as prescribed by UNESCO and undertaken by developed nations, the most appropriate way of doing this is by teaching philosophy to pupils in primary and secondary schools.

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