Monday, February 7, 2011

Much more than the Sum of its Parts

"The whole is more than the sum of its parts."

- Aristotle [Metaphysica]

We know that if we each do a little more, we all do a lot more. This holds true for any joint effort such as brainstorming, crowd-sourcing, team sports, academic discussions... and more.

It however gets a little bit interesting when we consider stereotypes. In this skewed way of looking at things, we focus on one [usually negative or wanting] attribute, and base our entire outlook and judgments on it.

In Kenya, people of a particular ethnic extraction may be perceived as proud, lazy, promiscuous, unromantic or greedy, among other undesirable traits. We still go ahead and inspired by prejudice, dislike individuals for belonging to ethnic communities which are generally believed to have the aforementioned traits.

The recently solemnized wedding of 36 year old Peter Mbugua and 75 year old Wambui Otieno Mbugua at St Andrews Church in Nairobi has been widely discussed on radio and across the Internet. People have voiced their divergent opinions, many of them typically based on stereotypes and popular opinion.

My attention was however drawn to this post by one member [Kusadikika] on the Wazua forum. He/she writes:
Have you ever eaten a delicious meal of say Pilau after which you are left smacking your lips thinking "tamu sana"? Would it make sense if someone later asked you what is it you found delicious; was it the salt, was it the spice, was it the rice, was it the garlic or tomatoes or the oil. Could you still have loved it had it been served frozen rather than hot? Does it therefore mean that what you liked was the heat in the food and not the meal itself?

People are many things. They are tall, short, old, young, rich, poor, with ugly feet, beautiful hands, long hair, good teeth, talkative, quiet, kind, funny, talented etc. All attributes we possess and circumstances we stand in are part and parcel of who we are. Take out one and the whole is changed. You would be a different person if you were younger or older, a different gender, taller or shorter, less intelligent or more intelligent. You would be a different person if you were more or less educated and yes you would be a different person if you were richer or poorer.

Mbugua and Wambui love each other and have been together for 8 years. They met and fell in love in the circumstances that they found themselves in. Love is a beautiful thing. Let us not scandalise it by dissecting it.

I find the above very sober and well-thought. I agreement with Vin on the same forum, I dare not add anything else. It's all and well said.

Let us acknowledge our diversity, but still be graceful enough to find unity sans myopic, stereotypical prejudices. May we appreciate every individual's worthwhile input to the bigger picture.

Have a productive week!


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