Saturday, 25 February 2017 01:35

Understanding wthout compassion is a mistake

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My Relationship With Igbos Shows Understanding Without Compassion, A Mistake

Ozodi Thomas Osuji

I was not always critical of Igbos, Nigerians and Africans. I minded my business until I had unfortunate run in with Igbos and that led me to pay close attention to their individual and collective characters.   What I saw I did not like. I wrote about what I saw.

What I saw in Igbos is absolutely true; there is no disputing my observations of them.  Many Igbos pursue becoming big, important persons; they are that way from their childhood; some of them proceed to become paranoid, deluded characters.

As deluded characters they fancy themselves their ego ideals, the important selves they want to become and are chasing; they forget that the ego ideal is a mere wished for self, a mental construct meant to be compensatory over their underlying sense of inferiority and now come to believe that they are, in fact, very important selves.

Many of them actually believe that they are better than other Nigerians. They forget that all people are the children of the same God and that there is no way one child of God can be better than other children of God; God does not make some of his children better than others.

The empirical fact is that many Igbos fancy themselves better than other people and look down on them. Having identified with a big self they work hard and tend to accomplish some useful things. Apparently, their so-called achievements go into their heads and they feel superior to other persons.

Having exalted themselves, as neurotics do by identifying with their ego ideals (see Karen Horney, 1950, Neurosis and Human Growth), they look down on other people and see them as not good enough.

Generally, they have been this way all their lives. There is probably something biological that they inherited that makes them feel somatically inadequate and they compensate with futile effort to seem superior (see Alfred Adler, 1964, Inferiority and superiority in Neurosis). They are so from childhood so they did not learn it.

If you say that their neurotic arrogance is a cultural trait that they learned I beg to disagree; sociological analysis is spurious rationalizations for observed behaviors; they are not causal but corroborative.

What is scientific is to say that they inherited an as yet unknown medical condition that makes them feel weak and inferior and they restitute with drive for superiority.

In a manner of speaking, since their malady originated in their bodies they are the victims of biology; the victims of bodies ought to be pitied.

Alternatively, as metaphysics suggests (see Helen Schucman, 1976, A course in miracles), you can say that they chose to behave the way they behave before they were born in bodies; you can say that they chose bodies that make them feel weak to dispose them to compensate with drive for false superiority.

It is plausible that they chose their deluded life styles.  Since they are that way from the beginning one still ought to have some understanding and compassion for them.

Alas, I did not have compassion for them; I am like a disembodied person who dispassionately sees their craziness at work and write about it without sympathy and compassion.

May be I needed to be detached and objective to write about them as I did. Yet, understanding without compassion is sign of immaturity.  Maturity required me to show some compassion for Igbos and people in general.

My understanding of them is as accurate as accurate can be but I needed to present it in a humane and compassionate manner.

You should not look at a madman without compassion, even if he chose it; you need to have some sympathy for a madman who rejected his real self and chose to identify with a false, imaginary big self and behave as such; you need to figure out a gentle and humane way to tell him that he is mad and try to show him how to heal his self.

One is healed when one stops pursuing the imaginary big self and accepts one's real self, a humble self and lives from it.

The madman rejected his real self for it is not powerful; he chose to invent a powerful self and pretend to be that false, powerful self; the false, powerful self is his invention hence he likes it and defends it but his real self, the humble self is not his invention, is the creation of, if you like, nature or nature's god.


Consider   the Owerri chap, Philip, who calls his self-prince. Upon hearing that he calls himself prince I was infuriated. How dare he call himself a prince? Who made his father my king?

Around 1902, his great, grandfather, Osuji-Njemanze was selected by Lord Lugard, a Briton, and made the warrant chief of Owerri town, at the time, a town of a few hundred people.

His grandfather was an agent of British imperialism. The British did not select the best men in town and made them chiefs; they selected thugs' who they used to control the people. If I was in his position I would be angry that the British used my grandfather to oppress my people.

My own great, grandfather, Osuji-Njoku was busy organizing his people to fight the British and his son continued that war on the British local administration at Owerri; he, at no time, accepted British rule and, as a result, was on several occasions arrested and jailed.  Grandfather was a pain in the British ass!

I am very proud of my ancestors for resisting the rule of white men but here come this clown who ought to be ashamed of his self-calling himself prince (my grandfather had nothing but total contempt for his grandfather, for he saw him as a collaborator with the British enemy!). I asked: who the fuck made your thuggish grandfather king of Igbos for you to become a prince? I was in the mood to chop off his idiot head!

A people can only have one king and the children of that man are called princes. England has one king or queen and his children are princes. Not any ordinary Duke or Earl or Baron calls himself king and his children princes.

Igbo land has thousands of town chiefs (made by the British, for in their natural state Igbos did not have chiefs); not one of them is the king of all Igbos. Therefore, no son of these rustic thugs pretending to be chiefs is a prince.

Well, I was very angry at Philip for calling himself prince; prince my foot, I roared in rage.  However, upon studying his claims that Igbos are the original Jews I realized that what we have here is another Igbo deluded character trying to seem very important; he is making false, grandiose claims!

At that point I felt total sympathy for the man. For the first time in my history of analyzing Igbos I actually felt sorry for one of them; I had compassion for the brother.

I am guessing that it is because he is close to me hence I can look at his delusion with pity. In the past I did not identify with the broad masses of Igbos; I detached and did not look at them with compassion.

Listen, understanding without compassion is not wise; in fact, it can be harmful to look at madmen without compassion.

Moreover, detached analysis of people does not lead them to change their behaviors. What makes people change is a little compassionate understanding of their follies and gentle feedback for them to change.

I got to learn to add compassion to my understanding of people; I will be more effective in healing them when I show them some sympathy.

From now on, I will look at Igbos with the eyes of compassion (of course, this does not mean ignoring their delusion, for delusion is living from a false, big self which gives them lack of inner peace).

I know that when the deluded person who makes false claims of importance stops doing so and accepts his real self, a humble self, and approaches phenomena with humility and quietness he tends to accomplish a lot in Life. And live peacefully and happily.

If deluded Igbo characters are healed they would make seminal contributions to science and technology.

Therefore, henceforth I must be gentle with my Igbo brothers; no more treating them with disdain but with respect.

Ozodi Thomas Osuji

February 24, 2017

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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: (907) 310-8176