Opinion: The tyranny of the minority

by Adebayo Okeowo

majority-scales

However, before you start pointing fingers at the billionaires and the politicians, here is some newsflash! You are likely part of that tyrannical minority!

 

Seeing man at its worst and yet seeing man at its best makes you wonder how possible it is for the same thing to be both (paraphrase from the movie: The Book Thief)

I know that we are used to decrying the tyranny of the majority. We complain of how ‘the many’ have their way without due regard to ‘the few’. As a result, we introduce standards to protect minorities. We even set thresholds through legal provisions. But, gone are the days when we can accurately and confidently say that the majority have their way at the expense of the minority.

Today, what we have are majorities of one!

We did not just fall off the cliff to find ourselves at this point. It has been a gradual build up over the decades. Power and wealth, two of the world’s greatest forces, are now concentrated in the hands of a few.  These two forces dictate everything else: international alliances, right of speech, resistance capacity, quality of life and the ultimate – those who live and die.

This problem is underscored by inequality. Wealth is controlled by a few.  Oxfam International revealed in ‘Working for the Few’, a 2014 report, that almost half of the world’s wealth is owned by just 1% of the world’s population.

Taking score of the housing deficit, what you will find is that a substantial number of people sleep in the cold without the benefit of walls for security, a roof for covering and blankets for warmth. A conservative estimate from the United Nations in 2005 put the figures of homeless people at 100 million.

Worse still is the number of those who manage to live in homes that qualify as shacks. It is estimated by Forbes that by the year 2030, 2 Billion of the world’s population will be slum dwellers. According to that same report, some 80% of Nigeria’s urban population lives in slums.

In politics, countries are at the behest of one individual who, even though got elected by the will of the majority, turns around and imposes his miniscule minority will on the majority. You will recall that an individual dictator – Adolf Hitler – sent the entire world to war in 1939 and by the end of the war in 1945, there had been over 60 million deaths.

Great nations are also being brought to their knees by few evil men. Case in point again – Nigeria – which is incessantly being held to ransom by various acts of terrorism launched by the Boko Haram group.

It makes me wonder what kind of world we are building. We live in a world where there are about 1 billion malnourished people yet all of them could be lifted out of their malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe. It is indeed the tyranny of the minority.

I refuse to believe that we have a greater percentage of evil people in the world above the good ones. It is at this point that Edmund Burke’s famous quote comes in as relevant – ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.’

However, before you start pointing fingers at the billionaires and the politicians, here is some newsflash! You are likely part of that tyrannical minority!

Truth is, for you to have a phone or laptop from which to even access the internet is a privilege most cannot afford. And when you are through reading this piece, you are getting back to business, work, studies or adjusting your pillow to have a good night sleep. Tons in the world only have those locked within their fantasies.

Many of us work more than one job. The teacher is also a business (wo)man. The Director also runs a separate consultancy firm of his/her own; the corporate employee is also a make-up artist on weekends; the music artist also has a fashion line and the journalist/writer earns extra cash by being an events compere. In as much as we joggle these responsibilities to make ends meet or because we love them, have you ever considered that by working that 2nd or 3rd job, you are denying someone else the benefit of their first? Check the world’s stats on unemployment and you will understand.

But we can do something about it! Let us not be so caught up ‘struggling’ to live better lives that we ignore the majority whose existence tomorrow may as well depend on what positive selfless steps we take today.

Just so you’ll know, it is too late to tell me that I cannot change the world.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

 

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