"Love is the inspiration to intentionally choose someone or something, with the unyielding determination to keep that choice; in order to cultivate and care for that choice, and never to keep or use the choice you made for any other purpose other than this." - Joseph Osei-Bonsu
Photography by Joseph Osei-Bonsu
Tomahawks, or better still, hatchets, were normally buried when two native American Indian tribes, who were warring against each other, had suffered very serious or numerous casualties as a result of there warfare against each other. The chiefs of the tribes opposed to each other would meet and bury their axes under an underground river; and the washing away or sinking of the axes symbolized the vanishing of any matters that had formerly been the bones of contention between the two tribes. It was a sign of peace. Sometimes, the axes were just buried under a tree or in a notable field. Always, and I repeat, always, the reason for which these native American Indian tribes did this was because they had suffered great losses, or they deemed the loss they were about to suffer as not worth each other's while.
Hatchets were buried to avoid loss through war, and not to achieve any gain through peaceful productivity.
This why more often than not, the erstwhile feuding tribes would in the future dig up the buried hatchets (if they axes were buried in the ground), and wage war against themselves again. They would 'dig up' or 'raise up' the hatchet: the opposite of burying the hatchet. Obviously, doing that means that now, they both consider the losses that will or can be conceded as worth their while, again. Whatever the case maybe, it always take another tragedy of loss, or the certainty of tragic losses for the two tribes to bury their hatchets, again. We are no different from the native American Indian tribes of the 16th, 17th, 18th 19th and early 20th century. It always takes a great tragedy or loss for us to realize that most of: what we're fighting over, who we are at loggerheads with, and the forgiveness we're refusing to ask or give, will eventually destroy us. Until the losses become unbearable for them, most people never bury the hatchet they have raised against other people or themselves.
As I mentioned earlier, the native American Indians buried their hatchets in order to avoid loss through war, and not to achieve any gain through peaceful productivity. The same holds true for us. We are ever so quick to put all our differences aside with the people we have rejected or opposed, when we feel uncomfortable, insecure, uncertain of the future or threatened by their presence or power. We want peace so that we will: live and not die, be at peace and not suffer with guilt or sorrow, receive mercy instead of condemnation. We choose to bury the hatchet because our human survival instincts feel threatened by the great loss we have suffered, and then, it forces us to seek for penance, shelter, and relief wherever it can be found; even if those things are with our 'enemies'. Burying the hatchet does not give life, rather it prevents death. It does not bring change, instead, it only stalls crises. This is the reason why peace treaties, truces and cordial agreements between nations, companies and individuals never last longer than their own whims and caprices.
It is a fallacy to believe or think that by signing a peace treaty or agreeing to a cease-fire, the differences of the two feuding parties have been or will be settled!
Yes, burying the hatchet between the parties paves the way for better relations, and possibly, cooperative ventures between them - this is true. However, that is seldom the reason for burying a hatchet of any sort. This is because, again, most people primarily bury the hatchet to prevent loss, death, destruction, crisis, lack of comfort, apprehension and tension - period! If two warring states, families, companies, or individuals will truly bury the hatchet, it must be because of a motive and a reason that far outweighs any personal agenda, profit or interest. It must be because of love. At this juncture, I shall attempt to define 'love' as best as I possibly can:
Love is the inspiration to intentionally choose someone or something, with the unyielding determination to keep that choice; in order to cultivate and care for that choice, and never to keep or use the choice you made for any other purpose other than this.
With this definition of love in mind, we begin to understand that love has very little to do with emotions and passions; but it has everything to do with purpose and motives. To successfully bury a hatchet, at least one of the feuding parties must decide that the reason why he is doing this is because he or she is intentionally choosing peace with the enemy, through an unyielding determination to keep this peace; in order to bring out the best from his 'enemy', cater for his 'enemy' and never to use the peace he now has with his 'enemy' for his own advantage, or any other ulterior motive other than this. This, is tough for most people, because it takes a lot of courage to do love an enemy or a betrayer. And the reason why it takes much courage to do this is because of the fear of rejection. The fear of being hurt again, by making an already broken heart vulnerable to the one (or similar one) who broke it in the first place is what breeds distrust and lack of forgiveness in the broken-hearted. And so it should! For example; will you ever in your right mind trust your daughter with your friend who slept with your spouse? Let's say that after throwing your spouse out of the house and severing all ties with your friend, the tragedy of losing you causes your wife and your friend to seek the burying of this adulterous hatchet. They come to you for a second chance to make things right; you decide not to give them a second chance, because of your present hurt and your fear of being hurt again. Once bitten... However, if you intentionally choose to make and keep peace with your spouse or your friend or both, in order to help them recover from the setback of the relationship - to help them change - then you are burying the hatchet for the right reason: love. Should your wife and friend ever reject your act of love again, it would be on their consciences, not yours. Contrary to your fears, you would rather be TRULY free and vindicated of any hurt, pain, guilt and heartbreak that their actions might have brought. Love buries all things...especially, hatchets.
"The early bird catcheth the worm." - Old English Proverb
Photography by Joseph Osei-Bonsu
"The early bird catcheth the worm."; this proverb means that diligence and preparation elicits success, eventually. In other words, those who prepare themselves well enough by working hard enough, forfeiting immediate pleasure for long term goals, ultimately 'make it' in life. The general idea is that, those who don't or aren't able to strike oil in their lifetime, simply didn't look hard enough. This philosophy is nothing but glorified humanism perpetrated by western thinking. Why is the billionaire CEO who wakes up as early as 4am, working 10 or more hours for 6 or 7 days straight, considered to be more 'prepared' and more 'hardworking' than the Angolan widow who does the same thing at the nearby stone quarry? Should you pose the above question to most motivational speakers, so-called successful people and experts, they will deflect from answering it by making variations of this excuse:
"It is not possible to compare each random person's success or failure to the next random person's success or failure. This is because in dealing with human success or failure, there is either too much information or too little data for one to consider as relevant or irrelevant in a person's life. This exponentially increases the error margin in the research or study. Hence, you could spend a whole lifetime studying an error."
From the above explanation, we can deduce that neither generalizing nor specializing, is the best way to analyze human success and failure. And that, a considerable measure of every individual's success or failure can be attributed to sporadic occurrences of good or bad 'fortune' which are beyond that person's complete control. This 'fortune' has been described as many things such as 'luck', 'fate', 'destiny', 'the hand of God' etc. Call it what you want, but this excuse of the so-called success experts, proves that the early bird doth not always catch the worm. Why then are the shelves in our libraries and memories in our iPads filled with books that seek to method-ize success by listing '10', '20', '7', or '100' "keys to success"?
Another school of thought will answer the same question (Why is the billionaire CEO who wakes up as early as 4am, working 10 or more hours for 6 or 7 days straight, considered to be more 'prepared' and more 'hardworking' than the Angolan widow who does the same thing at the nearby stone quarry?), with variations of this response:
"Though hardwork and preparation increases one's chances of 'making it', one's prospects of success in life heavily depends on factors like race, gender, class, birthright, and others.”
The whole idea is that, it is possible to work harder than everybody else, prepare earlier than everybody else, yet:
The colour of your epidermis, the nature of the tongue you speak, the type of sexual organ you carry in your crotch, where you got an education, where you sit at the table of society, who your friends are or are not, what your daddy left you with, the value of the currency in your pocket, the type name you were christened with, could become your own undoing. Even though the interpretation of this as being a good thing or an evil thing is relative to each of us and our situations, the inevitable conclusion about it is simplified in one adjective - tragic! The bird that riseth early knoweth not for sure whether its painstaking endeavours to catch the worm will prove futile or fruitful. What a tragedy!
Last, and certainly the least number of the so-called experts of 'success' and 'successful' people answer the question (Why is the billionaire CEO who wakes up as early as 4am, working 10 or more hours for 6 or 7 days straight, considered to be more 'prepared' and more 'hardworking' than the Angolan widow who does the same thing at the nearby stone quarry?) with a shrug and with four magic words:
"I don't know."
Their response is not a sign defeatism, rather, it is the acknowledgement of the objective conclusion that most of what we call 'success', is not success at all. Think about it: does the early bird who caught the worm become more of a bird than her fellow compatriots who came later? It obviously makes her a well-fed bird but does it classify her as a 'super' bird over the others who were late? It is true that most people are lazy and as a result, deserve to fail. It cannot be disputed that hardworking people deserve to be rewarded for their efforts. But how many times do we see the roles reversed, where the diligent are rewarded with poverty whiles the lazy enjoy the riches of another's labour? This strange vanity warrants an i-don't-know response. In fact, it is the only true response concerning the mysteries of life. We don't know really know what success is. If we cannot know a thing, how can we prove what it is not? What then becomes of failure? I have come to the conclusion and the strongest belief that what the world calls 'success', is literally or metaphorically HAVING A FULL STOMACH. Just like the early bird, having a 'fuller stomach' doesn't make you more of a being than the next person. And likewise, having a hungrier belly doesn't make one less of a human being than the next. Somehow, the modern-day human believes this - even to the point of death. We've misunderstood what success truly is, hence, our vision has become distorted: turning left to right, up to down.
Success is the fulfillment of original intent.
A car is a success if it can perform the original intent for which it was invented: transportation. A pencil is a success if it can perform the original intent for which it was made: making marks on a suitable material. Humanity is a success if it can perform the original intent for which it was created: assuming responsibility over the Earth's resources. This is the original intent of the creation of all men. Everything else outside of this is another man-made pursuit for self-preservation and private ambition. The pursuit of self-preservation and private ambition has replaced mankind's original intent. We can see its full operation in our religions (including atheism and agnosticsm), politics, education, justice/legal systems, social lives, economies and our day-to-day interactions with the Earth. A man or a woman's priority for diligence and preparation should not be to satisfy her needs, cravings or desires, but to understand what role he or she is to play in the responsible management of the earth and its inhabitants. This is a difficult concept for people to assimilate, especially, a person who has been rejected, oppressed, abused and mistreated owing to gender, race, social class, family inheritance etc. The early bird rarely saves any part of the worm it manages to find for those who were late. On the contrary, she gulps down the creeping creature before any other bird arrives to contest with her. By filling her belly, she starves the rest. Even though she doesn't become more of a bird than the others, the later birds follow her in hope of finding the 'success' she has found. This pursuit of a full stomach becomes their driving force each day. Until, the later birds realize that worms aren't the only delicacies in the earth, and that by breaking away from the leadership of the early bird, they will find their own catch; they will continually enslave themselves to the early bird. Not all birds like worms, and those that don't eat them are never found where the early bird caught its worm. Overtaking the early bird requires that one of the birds breaks free from the flock in order find his own catch, at the place of his own choosing. To achieve your own, true success in life, there must be a point in your life where you decide to break free from what you were taught or what you thought was success. Then you must strive to re-discover the original intent for your presence here on Earth, and give it all you've got!
*The story you're about to read is completely fictional and has no bias intentions to spite or appraise any of the characters described in it*
Photography by Joseph Osei-Bonsu
How is it possible that he could be here? There are over 200 million, other Muslim Arabs like him, fighting against a mere, 6 million Jews. What were the odds that he would one day become a captive of this small enemy, Israel? What is really incomprehensible, is that all the combination of the Arab-Islamic armies that dwarfed Israel’s were defeated time after time - humiliating to the Arab-Islamic world. Reality couldn't have hit him any harder when he thought about what he was planning to do the next morning. Faisal was born during the intifada, the same intifada that made him fatherless. Since then, his uncle Tass, a prominent and influential leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, became his guardian. Faisal was sworn into the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of 12. And all his life growing up in Cairo, he trained to fight for the Brotherhood's cause; even to the point of death. Now, alone in this Israeli cell, he could only wonder what Tass would do to him if Tass knew the thoughts of betrayal that were tormenting his sleep that night. Tass was a sworn enemy of Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president whom the Muslim Brotherhood considered as a lackey to the Americans. Every evening, Faisal would overhear the drunken ravings of Tass, in which the latter described all the torture techniques he would subject President Mubarak to, should he ever lay hands on him. He cringed at the thought of returning home and informing Tass that, in exchange for his life, he had revealed top-secret intelligence concerning the Brotherhood to the Israeli army. As if it would be consolation enough, he started whispering curses to himself for agreeing to betray the Brotherhood. Unfortunately, the disgust he felt for being a traitor to his Muslim Brotherhood family, was not enough for him die a hero's death for the sake of loyalty. 26 years of being trained and prepared for this awesome cause, and now that the opportunity was presenting itself for Faisal to prove his faith, he chose rather to become an apostate. "We are more than they, and we have more than they have. Yet, our enemy prevails against us. Is it possible, that we have been fighting against God Himself, all this while? If so, then I must join the winning team.", Faisal thought to himself. With a heavy sigh of defeat, Faisal sealed his own fate. He would return to Egypt, to his uncle, and to the Brotherhood with a well-thought out lie about what he was going to do. And for the rest of his life, only he and his captors will know that he was really returning to his people as a traitor. It'd be the return of the bete noire.
The winning team: everybody loves the winning team! I am convinced that almost the whole world spends all of its human lives fighting to get into, and fighting to stay in the team that's winning the 'game of life'. Whether it's a young entrepreneur struggling to keep a new business afloat in the turbulent waters of the present economy; or, it's a High School 'loser' trying to fit in or out amongst her peers, the motive holds true for all - everyone wants to be part of the 'winning team'! We think that those who are able to make it into life's 'winning teams' are either: those who are naturally born into it, or, those who create their own 'winning team' through hardwork and effort. Betwixt these 'Naturals' and 'Creators' are the 'Tryers'. These are the people who (like the spelling of their name) cannot be naturally accepted, and, find it extremely cumbersome to create success at any level. This is so because 'winning' in the world is based more on quantity, rather than on quality. Be it in finances, sports, entertainment, politics, academics, knowledge, and even in social relationships, the amount of money, points, votes, information, contacts one has, is the ultimate determinant of success or failure. Nobody cares about the quality or the timing of Ben Watson's goal against the megalomaniac Manchester City F.C., in the F.A. cup final of the 2012/2013, English football season. All that matters is that, Mr. Watson's lone goal won the F.A. cup for his minnow-ish team, Wigan Athletic F.C. In this 'game' of life, the results are all that matters - full stop!
Though so true, the above statement is also tragic. Tragic in the sense that, somewhere in the deep recesses of our beings, ALL humans 'know' that they have a right and a legitimate chance to 'win'. Unfortunately, the systems of our world do more to stifle than to encourage winning. To most people, the world is like a grumpy, old, college professor who deliberately plans to make life miserable for all of his students throughout the semester. The professor then finalizes this diabolical plan by failing nine-tenths of his students, passing only the remaining tenth. It's almost as if most of humanity was born to fail in order to prosper a select few. Hence, those 'doomed-to-lose' tend to adopt supplanting, cut-throat and undermining devices in the pursuits of their next 'win'. They want to be counted amongst the winning few at all cost. If the game of life is won by those with the most numbers; why then are the so-called, privileged few considered as the 'winners', and the rest as 'losers'? What could be more ironic?! As a result of this paradox, anyone who wins anything by fair or foul means, instantaneously becomes the bete noire of the vast, 'loser', population surrounding him or her. 'Jealousy' and 'envy' are some of the words we use to describe this animosity the losing team feels for this 'winning' individual. I believe that the source of all manner of covetousness is found in humanity's inability to accept the unfair nature of being on the losing side. Whether we accept responsibility for our failures or not, we still remain adamant that we don't deserve, ever, to 'lose'.
It is unnatural for the human soul to accept a loss.
Therefore, when you do 'lose'(and you will at some point in your life), you consequently become your own bete noire. You only hate the 'winner' because you hate your 'loser' self. It is only in the oblivion of a defeat or a loss, that the mind plagues itself with these questions: "Why can't I be a 'Natural' winner?" "Why can't I be a 'Creator' of my own winning team?" "When will stop being a 'Tryer', and just be a winner?". The truth is, there are nothing like a 'Natural'-born winner, a Creative-winner, or a Trying-to-win loser in life. This is so because winning and losing is entirely based on your perception. What you call a 'win', what the whole world calls a 'win', becomes so because YOU THINK SO. What or who is called a winner changes by the day: today's 'loser' may be tomorrow's 'winner'. The interpretations of 'winning' and 'losing' are loosely based on the whims and caprices of numerical quantities, which keep changing everyday! Time and chance/change are the only two absolutes in the world: and both 'winners' and 'losers' are subject to them. Owing to this reason, there's no point in self-hatred caused one's misfortune or another's fortune. Some are not born to be 'winners', and no man can confidently say they single-handedly created their own success. In the absence of fictitious labels such as 'winner' and 'loser', what we have left are a bunch of humans trapped in time, each with at least one chance to display what they brought with them to the planet. This essay is therefore a clarion call for the return of all the bete noires: the 'winner' and 'loser' alike.