Somehow, in the course of our short but eventful history as a nation, we’ve lost sight of a fundamental reality: Passion is an invaluable and inexhaustible national resource.
Politics steers a nation, while economic activity is essential to people’s material well-being. But it’s emotional fervour that really drives a country forward–a fervour which, I’m afraid, we Nigerians lack.
Like electricity, petrol or nuclear power, emotional energy can be dangerous and destructive when misused or unleashed without proper controls. We see tragic and gory evidence of this, almost daily.
Ironically though, the untrammeled bedlam and bloodletting that has engulfed us, makes the strongest possible case for tapping into our great reserve of emotional energy.
It demonstrates not only the power of human emotion but also the political prospects of a nation that can harness this enormous well-spring of social energy and put it to constructive and productive use.
This is done, of course, through the use of two psychic mechanisms which aren’t very well understood and, consequently are appreciated even less: These being nationalism and patriotism.
Socially, nationalism and patriotism function as adrenalin–the hormone our bodies release in times of anger, fear or desperation, to proved the extra energy we need to face a threat, prevail in competition or escape danger.
But while the two emotions serve a similar function, they are not exactly the same. The difference is, in a sense, like that of fire and flame.
Technically, “fire”refers to the complex array of physical and chemical processes associated with combustion–the release of heat and light energy, along with various reaction products, which we perceive mainly as “smoke”.
By contrast, a flame is merely the visible component of a fire: Specifically, the rise of hot gases whose varying temperatures radiate at wavelengths that our brain organises into the red, yellow, white and blue colours. These colours help us to