Sunday, February 18, 2024

On Fact-checking: Stories from faraway


A picture of me in my Glory. 

I am sorry I took this long to write to you. Now I have learnt my lesson on continuity, I know how lapsing breaks can be. I took one in December to prepare for my exams and decided to take a restful nap afterwards. I woke up shortly to the blasts of the New Year's midnight fireworks. When I opened my eyes at dawn, it was February. And yet, not a Blogpost to show for it.

This made me wonder why inventors weren't thinking fast enough. Why were there not yet, circuits I can connect to my head to spew out its contents exactly as I have expressed them in my mind? I would have had pages by now. Until then, I have decided to do the hard work.


On a few occasions, when I dare, I ponder about life. I think about people. Their thoughts processes. The idiosyncrasies driving their decision. 

Don't worry. I don't do this often, lest I run mad. For who can ever fully understand people? Why they act the way they do? 

It was on such a day that I heard a story about Cats. Cults. And Fact-checking.

Recommending this book for everyone that have mistakenly walked this path, wondering why people act the way they do. 

He had a cat. One he loved so much. It sat on his table and shared his meals. It followed him everywhere - asides his gatherings. There has to be a line somewhere. He thought it made an unnatural sight. If people gathered from far and near just to hear him speak, the least he could do was to give them his attention. Undivided. 

It was a hassle to explain this to a cat. They are fussy and in constant need of attention. Worse still, he had a poor understanding of the cat language. So he spoke the one it could hear. The one of ropes and trees.  He tied the cat to a tree before he began each meeting.  

Photo Credit: Yerlin Matu

We imagine that it must have been a hard decision choosing between his precious cat and strangers. An animal and a group of humans. Don't give me that look like it's supposed to be an obvious choice. Or tell me it is common sense. And don't bring up Justice too. If you do, I will show you its cemetery in my country: the expensive roofings on politician's houses and their bullet proof cars. You will find another in the hollow stomachs of hungry children. Go put on a news channel if you doubt me, you will find even more. You will realize many choices are not as easy as you think. 

So you must understand my admiration for this man. I stood in awe, no different from the people gathered at his feet. In the end, all moths are drawn to fire. When this fire died out, I understood their despair. I felt it like it was mine. I mourned with them for this last good man.   

But some men never die. Their legacy lives after them. Especially when they have donated their property to goodwill. This meant that the meetings need not stop. In fact, just the opposite. His house became the meeting point of all charities. And there, our story began. 

Photo Credit: Karina Vorozheeva

Poor cat. It was bad enough to lose a beloved owner. But to be tied up every meeting day - which had become more frequent - was a heartache. Perhaps they hurt like humans. No wonder it didn't live long afterwards. The people bought another cat. It had a single fate: to be tied up at the beginning of each meeting and to be untied afterwards. An endless cycle.

“It is what the good man did. This is what he would have wanted. We must keep his memory alive,” I can almost hear them say. 

The good man’s cult spread fast. Like a wildfire. And so did this ugly cat practice. 

The next time I heard his name was in history books of distant lands. With a new generation that revered him as a god. And cats as demons.  

“If not, why is an animal supposed to be domestic nocturnal?” 

“Why will it be active when its owners sleep. How else do you describe a spy?”

“No wonder the good man tied it up often,” they continued. “The less connect it has with us, the better.”

This formed a strong evidence against the cat’s case. I know this because I am training to be a lawyer. Such evidence makes a case more difficult to win than others. And so, the case lingered. The practices continued. It will grow into the allusions of cats as evil. Even worse, the connotation of cats with bad luck. 

Photo Credit:Tolga Ulkan

Many times, we've been these people. We have jumped into conclusions drawn by others without fact-checking. We have fought battles we have no idea of their origin. We have followed rituals without questions. We've been blinded by superstitions. And by our own hands, we tied up our cats.

I feel this despair each time I see minds construed by these myths. Wools put over people's eyes, till they become puppets pulled by strings of superstitions. So many actions without explanations. 

This is not a post to question traditions or to proclaim an overwhelming love for cats. It is one to remind you to always fact-check. Ask questions! 

To every Rose that grew from Concrete; Blossom!

P.S: A shout-out to everyone that reached out to check up on me. I do promise to be more consistent to cover the lapse. 

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