By Simon Ssenyonga
My formative years of University as a young law student were shaped by interaction with precedents. As a lawyer, you read thousands of cases to appreciate precedent and have a solid case. Precedents matter to guide the nation. They matter in guiding drunkards. They matter before we romance with Pharaoh’s. They always matter.
In law a precedent is an adjudged case or decision of a court of justice, considered as furnishing a rule or authority for the determination of an identical or similar case afterwards arising, or of a similar question of law. A precedent has to be in existence for it to be followed.
The rule of adherence to judicial precedents finds its expression in the doctrine of stare decisis which is simply that when a point or principle of law has been once or officially decided by a ruling of a competent court, it will no longer be considered as open to examination by the same court or by those bound to follow its adjudications unless it be by urgent reasons or in exceptional cases. The above position be as it may, where there is no existing precedent, the court will “declare” the law and the case will become an original precedent. Precedent provides consistency and predictability in the law.
Adherence to precedent helps achieve two objects of the legal order. Firstly it contributes to the maintenance of a regime of stable laws. This stability offers predictability to the law and affords a degree of security for individual rights. Secondly it ensures that the law develops only in accordance with the changing perceptions of the community and therefore more accurately reflects the morals and expectations of the community.
Precedents can be either persuasive or mandatory and they can be departed from only in very exceptional circumstances.
Our motto For God and My Country is the precedent which should bind us as a nation in any direction we pursue. Push has come to shove and now we must actually choose whether we shall follow the precedent of God in taking the “new normal” course or the God normal course.
As a nation we find ourselves at crossroads in determining which way to take for our best interests in these times. Definitely, our only hope is Jesus Christ. But when men don’t know better, the scripture says in Job 12:25 that “they grope in the darkness without a light. He makes them stagger like drunkards.”
I can confidently say that most decisions which have been taken in these times by many people (especially leaders) makes them qualify for being drunkards in this context. They have lost their sense of sobriety because they have tasted a new beer called the “new normal lager”. Bell Lager (a popular beer brand in Uganda) had a popular advert tag line which was “Omunywi wa Bell Tabula” loosely translated as a consumer of Bell Lager is easily identifiable. Indeed, the consumers of this beer the “new normal Lager” are easily identifiable. They are regular and popular consumers of the fear, despondency, anxiety and confusion created by narratives which seem to bare facts but not truth at least as far as God is concerned.
The New Normal Lager and Its Drunkards Taking Decisions: What are the Effects?
On December 19th 2011, Peter Giancola, Professor of Psychology, at the University of Kentucky and Brad Bushman, a Professor of Communication and Psychology at Ohio State University authored a paper on the failure to consider future consequences whilst you make decisions as a drunkard.
Other co-authors were Dominic Parrott, Associate Professor of Psychology at of Georgia State University and Robert Roth, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, at Dartmouth Medical School. Their results appear online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. (Brad J. Bushman, Peter R. Giancola, Dominic J. Parrott, Robert M. Roth. Failure to Consider Future Consequences Increases the Effects of Alcohol on Aggression. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2011.11.013)
In this article, the lead author, Brad Bushman noted that people who focus on the here and now, without thinking about the impact on the future, are more aggressive than others when they are sober, but the effect is magnified greatly when they’re drunk. He further averred that “if you carefully consider the consequences of your actions, it is unlikely getting drunk is going to make you any more aggressive than you usually are.”
Bushman said it makes sense that alcohol would make present-focused people more aggressive.
“Alcohol has a myopic effect — it narrows your attention to what is important to you right now. That may be dangerous to someone who already has that tendency to ignore the future consequences of their actions and who is placed in a hostile situation.”
The study involved 495 adults, with an average age of 23, who were social drinkers. Before participating, the participants were screened for any past or present drug, alcohol and psychiatric-related problems. Women were tested to ensure they weren’t pregnant.
All participants completed the “Consideration of Future Consequences Scale.” (We need this test for some of our Ugandan leaders) They indicated how much they agreed with statements like “I only act to satisfy immediate concerns, figuring the future will take care of itself.” Scores on this measure determined how much participants were present-focused or future-focused.
Half the participants were put in the alcohol group, where they received alcohol mixed with orange juice at a 1 : 5 ratio. The other half were given orange juice with just a tiny bit of alcohol. The rims of the glasses were also sprayed with alcohol so that they thought they were consuming a full alcoholic beverage.
Participants in the alcohol group had a mean blood alcohol level of 0.095 just before aggression was measured and 0.105 following, meaning they were legally drunk and that their alcohol levels were rising during the measurement of their aggressive behavior.
Those in the placebo group had mean blood alcohol levels that didn’t exceed 0.015, meaning they had very little alcohol in their systems and were well below standards of intoxication.
The aggression measure used in this study was developed in 1967 to test aggressiveness through the use of harmless but somewhat painful electric shocks. The researchers measured the participants’ threshold to the electric shock pain before the experiment began to ensure that no one received a shock that exceeded what they could take.
Each of the participants was told that he or she was competing with a same-sex opponent in a computer-based speed reaction test, with the winner delivering an electrical shock to the loser. The winner determined the intensity and the length of the shock delivered to the loser.
In actuality, there was no opponent. There were 34 trials, and the participant “won” half of them (randomly determined). Each time they “lost,” the participants received electric shocks that increased in length and intensity over the course of the trials, and the researchers measured if they retaliated in kind.
“The participants were led to believe they were dealing with a real jerk who got more and more nasty as the experiment continued,” Bushman said. “We tried to mimic what happens in real life, in that the aggression escalated as time went on.”
Results were clear, Bushman said.
“The less people thought about the future, the more likely they were to retaliate, but especially when they were drunk. People who were present-focused and drunk shocked their opponents longer and harder than anyone else in the study,” he said.
“Alcohol didn’t have much effect on the aggressiveness of people who were future-focused.”
Men were more aggressive than women overall, but the effects of alcohol and personality were similar in both sexes. In other words, women who were present-focused were still much more aggressive when drunk than were women who were future-focused, just like men.
Bushman said the results should serve as a warning to people who live only in the moment without thinking too much about the future.
“If you’re that kind of person, you really should watch your drinking. Combining alcohol with a focus on the present can be a recipe for disaster.”
This was a very key lesson that was observed that the leaders and the church can’t brush under the carpet.
The insatiable appetite for this “new normal” lager has cost us quite a lot as a nation.Our leaders are highly intoxicated and they are staggering in taking decisions like lockdowns which only benefit the economic looters (We shall discuss this on another day).
Sleeping, Snoring and Dreaming: Why the Church Must Resist Being Called Pharaoh’s Daughter.
The church then ought to be the source of true precedent that should guide us to national sobriety in moments when drunkards who group in darkness seem to be fire fighting. But alas, we are caught up in a dream which may require a rude awakening. This rude awakening requires us to dissolve this “new normal” by broadcasting only faith, hope and love.
There is a biblical precedent of dissolving this whole “new normal” and dealing with drunkards in darkness. Flash this beaming light of Christ in their eyes.
Hebrews 11:24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
Hebrews 11:25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.
Hebrews 11:26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.
Hebrews 11:27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.
From the passage of scripture above, the story of a young man Moses (who many people conveniently refer to religiously as they refer to the Bible) is presented to us. Beyond the veil of his greatness is a history of a steadfast fellow who took a stand to resist a “new normal”. The new normal was the bondage of Pharaoh to the children of Israel. The new normal was the affliction of disease and reliance on Egyptian knowledge (or science) as the only solution. The new normal was the lockdown of places of worship for the children of Israel. The new normal waste deprivation of economic sustenance of the children of Israel because of locking down places of work. It was all “new” because it was never God’s way of protecting this chosen nation from a “new or novel” danger irrespective of what research, international best practice or Egypt was doing. We have a precedent which must bind us always.
Moses didn’t refuse to call himself the son of Pharaoh’s daughter because it was bad in itself but the acceptance of this new normal would put him at odds with his true identity. You must realize that we spring from a particular reality and it’s from that reality that we are nourished. The divine flow comes into effect when we are rooted and grounded in it. We must refuse to be called the sons of Pharaoh’s daughter (“new normal” reality).
There is a temporal pleasure that comes with trading your divine heritage for the sake of new normal realities but their is a more solid flow that we can cause to flow by anchoring this nation in this divine perspective.
The choice to suffer affliction and reproach by Moses was taking a stand to esteem only the reality of God as opposed to the treasures of the “new normal” lager. We must get the nation to constantly see, as Moses, where we are going. His endurance to focus on the Lord saved him from the new normal by faith.
Faith is not blind. There is nothing as clear in sight as blind. The things that will cause us to soar may be invisible to the natural plain but these only must lead us to where we must be. Do not allow anything to distort your reality. There is nothing now or in the future newer than God’s reality. Faith is what will cause our nation to focus until its outward look takes the very shape of God’s promise of prosperity, long life and abundance to us. This is the strong and substantive power that will carry us.
We must refuse to see ourselves as a diseased and impoverished nation adapting to “new normal” realities. We must remind ourselves of how God sees us. We are the eyes of this nation.
Final Clarion Call: The “New Normal” is a Light That is Darkness
Luke 11:34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when [thine eye] is evil, thy body also [is] full of darkness.
Luke 11:35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
Luke 11:36 If thy whole body therefore [be] full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.
For us to focus the nation in its true path, as the eyes, we must be filled with the true light or reality not the new normal reality which is darkness. This light is faith, hope and love. This is the ultimate spring of true judgement.
Shall we then heed the Prophetic voice a nation, the church and the world? We have a precedent.
Simon Ssenyonga is a lawyer.