By Zulumathabo Zulu © 2017
The religious dogmatist
The political syntactist
The classist capitalist
Hitherto, like hashish
The borzois, unleashed
Inquiring mind, muted!
Unquestioning mind, touted!
Fuzzy logic, like acrobat
High ignorance, like didact
The sentiments, rephrazed
The sense of shame, unfazed
The thinker, pounced upon
Severe sanctions, exacted
More chastisement, instructed
The Neural basis of Fanaticism
Fanaticism is implicated in the dopamine and oxytocin systems in the brain structures that necessitate these chemical messengers to engender ecstatic and prosocial states via the brain chemistry of the organism. Fanaticism that originates in religiosity, ideology or monomaniac pursuits, as in the profit motive or self-gain, also acts bidirectionally as a dopamine agonist to emulate the molecular action of the reward system.
In the case of the organism experiencing a perceptual sense of threat, the protective oxytocin system is allowed, as a cofactor, to step in to protect the organism from the longterm effects of defensive neurons by modulating the HPA Axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenalin axis) to engender a less deleterious state of defence for the survival benefit of the organism. In this way, the boundary between the trance-like state of ecstasy induced by dopamine and oxytocin, among others, and the fight-flight response induced by cortisol and epinephrine, among others, is like blurred.
The Concurrency of the Stimuli
The natural dilemma for the brain, in the turbulant environment, is to process the concurrency of the stimuli that inundates the naive organism so as to enhance the survival experience of the organism. This processing strategy must also adhere to the moral code of the gods of the cosmos and the erudite ancestors who have gone before.
Moreover, the high concurrency of stimuli from the perturbations of the environment imposes stringent demands on the sensory processing system of the organism. For this reason, the adaptive brain is ethically designed to produce a fail-safe strategy that handles the raw inputs of the stimuli and resolves the complexity thereof to enhance the survival experience of the naive organism.
The organism could be outfitted with a myriad of tactical options to facilitate its survival requirements in the unpredictable and shifting terrain in the same way that the octopus is equipped with many adaptive tools like appendages and shooting chemicals that facilitate its survival in the shark-infested waters of the blue sea.
The Best Survival Plan
All things considered, the best plan for the brain, as an organising principle, is to process an input stimulus using a binary strategy namely (1) to flag the incoming stimulus as exciting or (2) as inhibiting. Regardless of the plethora and concurrency of the environmental stimuli, the resolution of a particular stimulus must come down to a taxonomical case of inhibition or excitation. This binary strategy is attested for in the system of geomancy of the Basotho that derives from the knowledge of the cosmos wherein the erudite ancestors trace their genesis.
Excitation Threatens Survival
The brain cells (also known as neurons) are primarily concerned with passing messages to one another using chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. The cell that passes a message to another is known as a presynaptic neuron and the one that receives the message from a presynaptic neuron is known as a postsynaptic neuron.
Given the binary strategy of inhibition and excitation, the brain is actually more worried about excitation (more than inhibition) because it is the state of excitation that poses the most impressive threat to the survival of the organism and the sacrosanct moral code of the gods of the cosmos and the erudite ancestors to whom the organism must account.
In a state of excitation, the organism is more likely to be derailed from the moral code. In this excitatory state, the naive organism can trade its survival plan for the ephemeral self-gain effectively giving in to the conniving forces of the environment, the seductive forces of self-aggrandizement and the subliminal mirages of mind control. The colonial, the neocolonial and the imperialist forces know about this fact and they exploit this vulnerability of the naive organism through their nefarious techniques of MICE (money, ideology, compromise and ego) to gain the inner control of the sentiments and the allegiance of the organism.
Inhibition Enhances Survival
The Ground Inhibited by Canada’s Arctic Ice
It is for this reason that the brain chemistry is dominated by the GABA (gamma amynobutyric acid) system, a neurotransmitter that inhibits the excitation of the neurons via the synaptic cleft and the receptor sites. The GABA system is assisted by glycin that also carries out this inhibitory role but mostly in the spinal cord as part of the central nervous system. This necessary inhibitory function is also mirrored in the therapeutic and cleansing rituals of the Basotho and other African nations known as Hoila in Sesotho and Ukuzila in isiZulu meaning the inhibition of self.
The mechanism of inhibiting the self was also integrated into the Zulu army through the Nyangas (doctoral practitioners of war medicine) who had formed part of the military command structure. Inkowankowane Ebomvu and other ritualistic medicines were used as part of the inhibition of self to ensure that a professionally trained and highly disciplined Zulu soldier was undefined by the ordinary events of the war so that he could focus, like a laser beam, on the successful outcome of the battle as was the case in the Battle of Isandlwana in 1879 where the British imperial army of Queen Victoria and Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli suffered their greatest defeat in the hands of the indigenous warriors commanded by the indefatigable General Ntshingwayo ka Mahole.
The purpose of the African rituals of inhibition is to restrain over-excitation and hyperactivity of the self because an ethical clan understands that if an individual is motivated by self-gain and the urges of the flesh, this creates enough ground to spell the demise of the clan and without the clan, the individual is a nonentity, like an empty shell that chases the gods and the value systems not his or her own.
This is the case today with the advent of moral decay in the beloved land of the ancestors wherein we are all trapped in the trajectory of demise unless some timely interventions are made to emancipate us from these human-killing talons.
It does not have to be this way. We can take a leaf from the desert flower. A desert flower uses the transcendental moral code of self-restraint to ensure that it remains undefined by the adverse conditions of the parched ground, water shortage and extreme sunlight making it possible to produce breathtaking beauty in what is otherwise a very hostile place.
In the book The Sacred Knowledge of the Desert: African Philosophical Transcendence in a literary piece The Desert Corolla, we read these lines:
“Despite a low rainfall
Despite a dehydrated ground
Despite sun rays that kill
She rises from the waterless
Unimpeded by soil eroded
The brilliant petals uncorroded”