See me as a tree

BY: Kwadwo Opuni
Each tree is distinct in its own way, even though they collectively make up the forest
Each tree is distinct in its own way, even though they collectively make up the forest

There is a reason why I love the above poem so much. 

It talks about the distinctiveness of each individual person, as no two individuals are the same.

This is a piece I created earlier as a result of my personal observation about our inter-relationship as a people.

I have also been told by others about their bizarre experiences on how poorly and cruelly they had been treated by others.

Oftentimes, people have suffered such injustices as a result of certain associations they are affiliated to.

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I may not be an expert on speaking on this subject matter, however, I feel compelled to express my humble opinion on the matter due to the danger it poses to our very existence.

There is an Akan adage which says, ‘Forest, when observed from afar looks collective but it is only when you enter it that you realise that each tree has its own specific location’.

This adage buttresses the point that even in our collectivism exists individualism.

None of us had a hand in our creation as black people, white people, female, Male, Ashantis, Dagombas, Bimbobas etc.

In fact, none of us decided who our parents should be, which town or city to come from, which country to originate from etc.

All these, nature decided for us.

Thus, why should one suffer any form of injustice for being something he/she did not have a hand in?

From the poem above, we are all like the trees in a forest.

Each tree is distinct in its own way, even though they collectively make up the forest.

Therefore, when we focus on the forest instead of the individual trees we tend to lose the uniqueness of each tree. In our world today, people tend to pigeonhole others they barely know.

They fail to allow their acquaintances to prove who they really are as individuals.

There have been instances where some people have lost job opportunities, marriages and tenancy merely because of sex, race, tribe, religion etc.

It will be disingenuous on anybody’s part to deny the fact that we all have one perception or the other about each other.

Indeed, no matter how some of the perceptions we sometimes hold may carry some truths, it should not be the basis for judging others.

Such over-generalisation tends to sweep everybody along, thereby creating unnecessary victims of circumstances.

What we need to do is to have an open mind and a tolerant outlook towards everyone.

If you meet someone and he is a bad person, he is a bad person because he is bad and not because he comes from among a group of people and vice-versa.

Why should one’s mistake be used to label others?

I believe there is truth in the Biblical expression that says “everyone must carry his own cross who wants to follow Jesus” (Matthew 16: 24).

Per my own understanding, stereotype is a mental prison that we cast other people into which propel us to mistreat or abuse them in reality.

It is a myth we sometimes create to justify our wickedness towards other people.

It is an unhealthy exercise for both the offender and the victim.

It creates suspicion, mistrust and discrimination among us which works against our cohesion as a people.

We all know that one colour does not create Kente since the richness and beauty of Kente is in its many colours.

So the beauty and strength of Ghana lie in the many people who occupy it.

They each come with unique abilities which if well harnessed, will propel the development of Ghana faster than we can imagine.

Therefore, let us all celebrate our uniqueness as a people.

Worth noting is a worrying situation developing in our country in recent times.

The subculture which allows certain individuals, who belong to certain groups, get away with heinous crimes because of our failure as a society to deal with these perpetrators as individuals.

The way forward is that we should let love; respect and tolerance lead the way. These virtues are always to be expressed towards the next person and we must uphold it at all times.

We should stop thinking highly of ourselves and embrace others in their uniqueness.

We must learn to deal with people on individual basis and not as a collective. Finally, as you want to feel important, remember others want to feel important too.

The writer is a Procurement Officer, National Identification Authority.