I have not posted an article in a while. I’ve been really “busy”, well, at least in a certain sense of the word.
My blog posts generally fall into any of these categories: (1) my opinion on an issue, (2) something new I have learnt, (3) something I think people should know, and (4) some other category I probably cannot think about right now. Today, I think it would not be too off the mark to put this post into the “my opinion on an issue” category. And yes! Today, I have an opinion, and I really want to know how many people even slightly agree with me.
Side note: I wote this blog entry on my mobile phone, not because I particularly love typing on a tiny keypad, but because it turns out that at this very moment, electricity seems like a far-fetched dream (Yes! I live in an awesome country where electricity supply is a rare privilege). Therefore, I cannot use a PC with a glorious full-sized keyboard that I can go all “Usain Bolt” on. Well, thank God for mobile Internet and of course, mobile phones with QWERTY keypads.
Before I go any further, I would like to make certain affirmations. Firstly, I am a Christian. I believe in God and I have absolutely no doubt about God’s existence. Right now, as I write this, I probably should even be in Church. I mean, it is a Sunday right? WELL, I’M NOT. So, bite me! Secondly, I am Nigerian. There is really nothing I can do about that. I would really love to confidently say that I am proud to be Nigerian but recently I have been entertaining a few doubts as to how I feel about being Nigerian. However, I am not one to even consider denying my origins. That simply just cannot happen.
Now that I have so “gloriously” reaffirmed my nationality and religious affiliation, I believe I can objectively go into the issue at hand. Nigerians tend to do a great deal of talking and little acting compared to how much talk they engage in. My country Nigeria, has a lot of problems not least of which is the wanton corruption that has eaten into the hearts and minds of almost everyone; those in high places, those in low places, those in “middle” places, and those who just barely exist and do not know where they belong. Most people would readily agree that corruption is the one single greatest problem facing Nigeria. However, not as many people would agree with my opinion that the average Nigerian’s propensity to be wildly and exaggeratedly religious is probably the country’s second biggest problem.
It is not like I have anything against religion as a vital aspect of human existence. It is just that I believe that everything should be practiced within the limits of common sense. Unfortunately, this probably poses another problem since what comprises common sense tends to differ amongst individuals. *sigh*. Nigerians are said to be one of the most religious people on this dying and continuously deteriorating planet. How come we are equally notorious for the corrupted nature of our minds? The irony is just plain mind-numbing.
Once in a blue moon, I talk to actual human beings about some of the things I think of and most of the time I get the same reaction which mostly ranges from calling me a pessimist to labeling me a slightly mentally maligned sadistic little boy. I might be able to deal with the pessimist label but definitely not the latter. The point here is that I strongly believe in accepting reality for what it is, no matter how unpalatable the current situation of things proves itself to be. Unfortunately, reality often presents us with less than palatable circumstances and I have learnt to accept them the way they are and deal with them.
The concept of faith and positive affirmations is a part of many religions, especially Christianity. It is a known fact that in Christianity, faith could be said to be “the proclamation of things that aren’t as though they were”. But does this mean we should constantly deceive our minds into thinking that everything is alright when there are obvious problems that need to be tackled? In my discussions with people, I am often corrected when I make certain negative statements about my country and the situation of things, statements which are obviously true. People are quick to tell me that as a Christian, I should only say positive things. Overt negativity is a terrible attribute to have, but then again, overt positivity is just as dangerous and religion as practiced in this country tends to encourage it. The problem is, how do you make positive solution-oriented moves toward a problem you have so actively deceived your mind into thinking does not exist, many times in the name of faith and/or positivity?
When I started writing this, I came across some tweets on Twitter that caught my attention. Someone on my Twitter timeline observed that at his church, there was absolutely no mention of some of the problems the country was facing, specifically, the recent bombing of the UN building in Abuja and flooding in Ibadan. Typically, one would expect that prayers would be offered for the people who have been distressed by the recent happenings and for the country as a whole. Also, it should not just end in prayers, as is usually the case, but also in a call for members of the congregation to do whatever they can to help distressed people. For instance, there are calls for blood donations for the victims of the Abuja bombing and people should be encouraged to help. Religious bodies here in Nigeria should probably play a vital role in encouraging people to do the little they can to help and alleviate the problems. But no no no, we go to our churches or mosques and constantly listen to how everything is alright and how God is in control. Yes, God is in control but then, there are some things He has also granted us a certain level of control over. I guess that is one of the reasons why he gave humans a brain to enable them analyze situations and make useful, progressive decisions.
Religious leaders and of course followers as well are both to be blamed for the feel-good-centric approach to religion that seems to be prevalent in this country. No one really wants to go to his place of worship to be reminded of the many problems that plague his life. The religious leaders also, on the other hand, do not want to be the ones who stand as a constant reminder of nagging problems. So what do we do? Let’s just pretend they do not exist, right? Most of the time, our places of worship are better seen as a means of escape and a place for refuelling our positivity and problem-denial tanks for the rest of the week. Is this why Karl Marx opined that “Religion is the opium of the people”? I wonder.
I need to bring this blog post to a close, but trust me, I could keep rambling on and on.
The bottom line is that we all want to drink from that cup of illusions that says “everything is alright”. It makes us feel good. Of course, most religious leaders do not help matters. Frankly, I would not blame anyone. Afterall, just like the character Rachoddas Chanchad in the wonderful Indian movie 3 Idiots noted, the heart scares easily and what we need to do is deceive it by making it believe “Aal iz Well”! *sigh*. However, I think this “Aal iz Well” attitude is one of the things that keep the average Nigerian from first of all thinking about what little he or she can do to make things better. Many people who follow the “Aal iz Well” philosophy, or maybe I should call it the “deceiving the mind” technique often forget the fact that the purpose of telling the heart and mind that “All is Well” is basically to enable us muster the courage to tackle the problems we face and is definitely not a call to inaction. Unfortunately, many of us just sit and make positive affirmations, most of the time followed by really thunderous “Amens” and believe everything is alright. Some of us manage to criticize things and do nothing about it. I believe this is one of the greatest problems Nigeria faces and is one of those things that has the potential to leave the country stagnated. This is because Nigeria seems to be mostly made up of citizenry that do not see the need to act in any way (no matter how little), but rather expect God to come down and do something about the state of the country while they sit and sing His praises. We really need to do something about this attitude.