The Fatalism of Dichotomies is a collection of 8 essays written by Onkarabetse M. Mokgatle**, a Motswana writer with roots in South Africa too. The collection of pieces is framed to be objective, in that it endeavours to explore the New Black Conscious through the scrutiny of some of humanity’s most prevailing dilemmas.
Let us revert to our little story since we have established the foundation and nature of both Conflict & Morality. Let’s start with the narrator, he proposes that he feels disrespected by the child. As the elder in the situation and assuming the standard practice of tradition, he wields all the power in the dynamic. That is to say, he is in control to decide what amounts to disrespect and therefore ultimately, however unaware, may be offended out of context even if the child was not being disrespectful. It is therefore not the child he is in conflict with but himself. Simply put, he has an internal conflict which manifests in the disillusion that the child is undermining him. It is then from this that his morality is put to the test. Well, the principle of morality, given that he cannot discipline the child or risk imprisonment. But that’s not what stops him, it is knowing that he as the elder will be seen to be taking revenge on a child. This by definition is a moral dilemma. Respect is one of the core aspects of morality and so is discipline. However, playing on the hypothesis that the child is innocent and the narrator is simply having an internal conflict, what conclusion can be drawn about his morality?
Now, assuming that the narrator is not just being overzealous, he must now choose between allowing this disrespect to continue or disciplining the child. Choosing the latter violates his own humanity therefore by extension undoing his morality. If then the latter proceeds, he must choose a method of punishment that would ensure he is careful to dole out an appropriate proportion of punishment. It is by this assessment we can see how difficult of a dilemma he is faced with. Without morality, he is free to punish the child as he sees fit as long as he accepts the possible retribution by the boy’s family. It can then conclude or rather hypothesised to a rather intelligent degree, that he is not moral but controlled by morality in any situation outside him not being governed by the aggregation. Even if by his own accord he chooses not to punish the boy by the sense of morales, he disposes of his own humanity by conceding to the control of morality. And the conflict continues…
The boy, although subjected to the same fate, has more freedom and room to roam. It is by the same principle of morality which demonises the narrator and takes his humanity that the boy assumes moral superiority. That is, assuming the boy is unaware of the values that sum morality, he is able to lock the narrator. This is the true consequence of morality, subjecting the narrator to torment by taking his virtue and rewarding the vice of the child. By not punishing the child, the narrator takes responsibility of the child’s actions as his own and allows for even more further disrespect that will likely now grow in leaps and bounds; it is through this lesson-not-taught that the child goes from amoral to immoral. It is this absolvement of being a child that he grows to realise that he can challenge and will continue to until he is stopped. It then becomes a case of domino & cumulative effect. The child’s only conflict is that he is expecting a punishment which seems to not come. He then tries to see the limits to which he can take his act; always aware that he is risking his life. And until he learns the lesson of consequence he can only keep on pushing his act. His burden is simply of learning!
We can conclude then, that morality subjects and controls the victim by holding him to a moral standard which the perpetrator is absolved off. Simply put, morality expects the victim to be moral in the name of “being the better person“. It is for this reason, I believe that the modern Caucasian community expects and subjects the black populace to a “higher moral standard” because it absolves them of their own immorality which the black human has suffered. This is the leitmotif of any black person in relation to the white person whether or not they realise it. That is the syllogism of Morality, that is; it bereaves one of a sense of self-protection in spite of how it is proposed to be in principle. In any sense, you as the reader are duty-bound in a sense by the very same morality, to assess by means of a semantic tableau so as to come to your conclusion, the intention of the author. I hope however you are able to not buy the bravura that is often unintended but nonetheless is a writer’s curse. Morality by its birth and nature is altruistic. Therefore, do not be swayed by any amount of sycophancy, either by the author or anyone else to believe otherwise.
It is then by this I suppose Uncle Ben meant when he said- With great power comes great responsibility to Peter.
**Onkarabetse M. Mokgatle is a Motswana writer from Mmankgodi with roots in Potchefstroom & Mafikeng in South Africa as well. He has been an avid writer since his pre-teens, but his love for literature dates back to his mastery of nursery rhymes at just 5 years old. He pursued his writing skills via various forms all through his teenage years, eventually moving into facilitating and nurturing other talents in his early 20’s. He eventually took a 2-year hiatus from writing which ended in 2019, when he rekindled his love affair with writing through a series of brilliant ideas. In 2020, these ideas would go on to grow into ambitious multimedia projects originating from Africans, For Africans.