When we have to embark on a trip, we inadvertently prepare a few things that would help us get there. This preparation may be inadequate, but usually, it will get us to the destination even if it would not give us a good time there.
We have to choose our modes of transportation. Sometimes, you have to choose further: Ok, I’ll go by road. Which route? Do I drive my own car? Or do I ride with a friend? Do I go by public transport? This is taking for granted the fact that we had already established our destination.
We arm ourselves with what we believe are necessary supplies for the trip. However, most trips require more than just initial preparation. Some trips even require us to retreat (fail) and take on the trip again. In 1953, two people made it to the top of Mount Everest at the same time: Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay. Tenzig had attempted in 1952, but the team was beaten back 240 meters from the summit. The current Nigerian President M. Buhari took the office by force in 1983 but was chased out in less than 2 years. He has been vying for the office since 2003 and he made it in 2015 when his strategy was completely overhauled; he re-equipped.
Sometimes after our attempts have proved successful, we need to still overhaul the whole machinery. Sometimes we find that we are not sufficiently equipped to sustain the success; we get some more education, we refuel our cars, we hire new staff, etc.
Summarily, Not Much in Life is Passive!
We may need to do less, do more, etc. But above all, we need to keep evaluating and making adjustments.
At one time or the other, we all have had inappropriate things come up on our computers or mobile devices while surfing the internet. It could be on your personal device, or at an internet cafe, or at a borrowed device. Sometimes, you feel the inappropriate thing followed a cookie to your device. At other times, you are sure that it was not any cookie; it just came!
Sometimes you see gross pictures that could haunt your mind for the next few days. Other times they are just symbols of idleness set to take your time: “Watch this video and see what happens to the guy on the left.” At other times its news that would leave us either angry or afraid.
What are we to do?
We have kept quiet and it has not helped; we have spoken against it but we have not necessarily got results. Why not produce good content?
In 2011 a guy whose name I cannot remember wrote about 10 points to make the new year a good year. One key point that came across to me was that we should not just be consumers on the internet; we should also contribute! Hmm. That was why I started this blog.
There are people that we have to defriend on Facebook for habitually posting inappropriate content; and there are those whose walls we check when we need encouragement. There are those we know we could get good information from; there are those that we get gossip info from. The question is not, “What kind of content do you contribute?” Rather, we should ask, “What could I contribute to make the pool better?”
There is doubtless a battle between good and evil, between light and darkness; and every little torch counts!
To the scientist and the engineer, strength is in the physical formation. To the leader and the soldier, strength is in invincibility. To the little boy among peers, strength is in the size of your biceps; and the capacity to win arm wrestlings!
What is strength to you?
Dictionary defines strength as (1) the quality or state of being physically strong; and (2) the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure.
There is so much pressure on us in today’s world even though we may deny it. The barrage from the news is all negative, and repressive: from Nepal. to India, to Nigeria, to the Middle East, to the USA, etc. We are bombarded with information about natural disasters, insurgency, receding moral standards, temptation to err, etc. All these pressures want to break us: to tell us that we are not good enough or strong enough.
Someone blurted out last week, “Why do these things have to happen!?” I won’t venture to answer that question, but while still looking forward to the answer, I will ask a different question: “What can we do to remain sane in this situation?”
1. Do not stand alone
Quoting Confuscius, “If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.” King Solomon also writes, “Two are better than one,… For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” We are better off in company of like-minded people!
2. Connect with SomeOne stronger
As much as mankind has attempted to deny the deity of God, we have not been able to evade it. Someone pointed out that evolutionists date rocks by the fossil and date the fossil by the rock i.e circular thinking. We do this when run out of ideas. A Professor of Physics wondered why it’s only water that expands anomalously if not that SomeOne arranged it so as to preserve aquatic life in winter. Whichever way, if we are sinking, we are better of clutching at a straw–a strong one at that!
3. Live for a purpose
Living to earn a living is boring! Make something happen for someone else, or for your city, or community, or nation! If we have a reason for living, it could be easier to weather our storms. If we live for ourselves alone, we may soon ask why live and go through all the pressures in the first place. In the book In Pursuit of Purpose by Myles Munroe, he opens the book with the story of a prosperous man who jumped into the ocean to kill himself. A young and strong man saw him and went after him, saving him. The rich man was in his 70s. He was happily married with good children getting on fine. But he said, “Everybody knows who I am, but I do not know why I am.” Without purpose, it won’t be long before man caves in.
4. Embrace your mortality!
Well, we want to live long, but no one will live forever and the earlier we come to terms with this, the easier it would be for us and the more peace we would have!
Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.
– Mahatma Ghandi –
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
– King Solomon –
I recently read a book by John Maxwell Running with Giants. In it he discussed the life of Noah and how one person could make a difference. It took Noah about 100 years to build a massive ark on dry land. One could only imagine the persecution. However, the first thing was that Noah was the only one that God found who could work with Him.
Then I saw an old movie The Miracle Worker on YouTube! I thought it would show how some miracles happened etc. Instead it showed how Anne Sullivan got Helen Keller to live a productive life! Anne Sullivan was the miracle worker. The experiences of Sullivan made her devote her life to Helen Keller. I am not sure there was any other big achievement in the life of Sullivan. However, one achievement was big enough! What did that one thing produce through the life of Helen Keller?
- She broke the barrier that would have rendered her completely useless in life. That in itself is a big deal, but then imagine the number of people who hear her story and go ahead to break their own barriers!
- A deafblind would ordinarily have been written off as a hopeless case. But due to the work of Anne on Helen, schools for the deafblind were opened. She was the first deafblind to go to University. The next to her was 50 years after her!
- She was the first deafblind to write to a book. She eventually authored 14!
- She worked for the rights and privileges of the blind in 40 countries.
- She was encouragement to blinded war veterans in World War II, etc.
Wouldn’t you describe Anne Sullivan as a success having laid the foundation for Helen to be Helen Keller?
What one thing are you doing, like Anne Sullivan?
What one thing are you the only one able to do, like Noah?
One could really be enough!
Many years ago, there was an unprecedented riot in my city. Mum had to walk some distance to pick us from school and we had to walk that distance again to get to the car. It was as though the whole city was ablaze and confused, and all major roads, blocked. Then, there were no mobile phones.
I asked mum where we were going and she said, “Home!” It occurred to me that as confused as the roads and the unwilling pedestrians appeared, we faced different directions but were going to just one place: home! I was under ten.
In today’s world however, home is either one’s place of comfortable/preferred abode or a familiar website from which one is comfortable to make progress. Whichever way, home is characterized by comfort, preference, and afterwards, progress.
However, home does not always fulfil these expectations. For example, there are people who lurk about after work, waiting till late so as to reduce contact time with their spouses. There are children who are “delivered” from home by gracious admission to boarding houses; they do not look forward to vacation. In university days, there were those who never went home.
What makes a place home?
Love and peace.
There are many homes without wealth yet with love and peace. There are many homes without perfect health, but still with love and peace. Maybe we should ask what makes for love and peace and joy.
First, the Christian’s Bible says that love and joy and peace are produced by the Holy Spirit living in a man. He enables one to look into a rough situation and still maintain a smile of assurance.
Furthermore, we could decide to love and be joyful no matter what may come our way. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust Survivor, says “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.
While many situations require more than a positive attitude, many homes could have joy and peace if we would decide so. If we could make our homes peaceful and joyful, we could expect progress on more fronts.
By September 2014, I had become shy to review my 2014 annual plan–too many unfulfilled plans. Last week I was discussing with a friend and we saw January 2015 disappear too quickly. We both imagined that another year is going and several plans are slowly slipping to the junk yard of unfulfilled dreams again.
I hit the nail on the head: “Wow! The year is about to end again!”
Friend: Don’t scare me; we still have 11 months!
Me: Well, yes! But time-wise, we cannot score 12/12 again! The best we can make is 11/12 and that is only of we swing into action NOW!
For every one year plan you made for 2015, if you have not started out on it, time-wise, you can never score 12 over 12 again! However, 11/12 is still better than 10/12 and 9/12.
Why do we abandon projects?
I identified some points (not an exhaustive list)
2. Family responsibilities
6. Lack of resources
7. Faulty dreams
How can we rekindle our visions and projects?
1. Write them down!
2. Get an accountability partner or mentor
3. Plan your life / budget your finances
4. Partner to implement the plan
5. From time to time, go back to the place where the dream was conceived.
6. Evaluate your dreams to be sure they are still viable.
7. Count the cost before starting out.
8. Dream of what things would be like when your dream is fulfilled!
If you take just one thing on your list, and I take one thing on my list, and she takes one thing on her list and he takes one thing on his list, the world should take one huge step forward this year.
Let us start as, in the words of an old man I met recently, “it is the start that stops!”
For all creation is gazing eagerly as if with outstretched neck, waiting and longing to see your fruit!
Once someone referred to a much older man. He said, “He’s so old that in his school days, history was called current affairs!”
Well. We often think that history was made by great men! I think that no one is born great but in time, each proves his/her worth. Architects of history are never fixated on their own needs. There focus is on how they could foster the good of all. They are not required to be perfect…but selfless.
No matter what Nelson Mandela got wrong, his selflessness and sacrifices overwhelm them. No matter what Obafemi Awolowo got wrong, his policies are the foundation upon which some good things in Nigeria are built today. If Charles Dickens never wrote Oliver Twist, thousands more of hapless orohans would probably have died. If Dr Stella Adadevoh did not hold Ebola back with her life, Nigeria would have been pillaged; Nigerians would have travelled , and everyone would have been hit somehow. Aliko Dangote doesn’t appear to be ambitious for wealth at this stage; I think he is expending his capacity in building Africa.
As we begin to write on the blank canvas of 2015, let us look away from ourselves.
I met a Cameroonian gentleman.
he just loves to visit Nigeria. He has had many good times on his last 4 visits. He thinks he will make it an annual trip. He is based in Europe, but he would not mind to live in Nigeria. He loves the fast pace of life in Nigerian cities, he loves the business acumen, the music, the movies, and the night bars!
He asked if I am Yoruba or Ibo (I wonder if I do not look one bit Hausa to him!). Well, I am Yoruba. He said Yoruba and Ibo people are very hardworking.
Hmm. I thought he must just be looking for something nice to say!
I explained to him that on average, Yorubas are professionals while Ibos are business men. His joy seemed to overflow! He told me with excitement that a successful business does not need more than those two! One person drives the business, the other manages it! He said that Africans need to work together! I sighed inside, knowing that Yorubas and Ibos are not necessarily natural associates.
He offered a prayer for Dangote (Africa’s richest man). He said that Dangote goes all over Africa to invest, create jobs and generally promote society. He told me what I could not dispute: there are many wealthy people in Nigeria. If only they all could do like Dangote, Nigeria would be better than an average European city!
He’s hitting hard! He said that Dangote’s businesses in Cameroon are huge!
Then he began to sing a Nigerian song “You don dey make me kolo ee.” I laughed, asking if he understood what the song means. No he did not, but he cannot help singing Nigerian songs and watching Nollywood! He said African music means Nigerian music! I explained the song to him anyway! But I thought about how the most popular things about Nigerian musicians in Nigeria are their mistakes and vices: children out of wedlock, divorces, unguided investments, etc.
I told him of a Ugandan woman I once heard singing a P-Square song and I exclaimed, “You listen to Nigerian music?”
She answered, “That’s not a Nigerian song, it’s an African song!” We laughed unitedly!
My Cameroonian thinks the best thing for any African to do is to live in Africa and contribute something to make a better society! He said Congolese have a lot of money but they don’t go to school. And once you are not educated, your judgements will not be well grounded. Hence when the rich men tell theothers to take to arms, tney take to arms…and now they are best known for wars and infightings!
He’s hitting hard! Insurgency and Education may truly have an inverse relationship, even in Nigeria! i.e as education goes up, insurgency goes down…and vice versa.
I think that when we stand outside the system, we can see the big picture and appreciate our blessings and strengths better!
Oh well, this is not about whose Benz, Jeep or Jet is bigger. It’s about an eroding core.
A friend pointed out to me how there was no kindness in her religious centre. I did not let her land:
Me: You belong there , and you have been there for two years.
Her: It’s not up to two but it’s over one.
Me: You are part of the problem. New comers look at you and wonder why you are not kind. Why not solve the problem?
She took it in and mused.
In reality, we often wait for others to bring good on board while we do nothing. As colleagues, we wonder why no one announces and celebrates our birthdays, yet we do not bother to know when they were born. I joined an organisation and observed that a particular person alerts me about the birthdays of members of our department (he bought cake and drinks on my own birthday). I learnt later that the idea came with him (not the complaint). Now it has caught on; if he doesn’t send, some else will!
Many of us wonder why we are out of church for weeks on end and no one calls; no one seems to ever notice. It’s just because we have never noticed the absence of others! Or if we did, we never called them; we let it pass!
There was a couple that joined a church to which I belonged. They seemed to bring a glow with them. They were beautiful and peaceful. As they got more involved they made friends and visited families at home. In time, the families (we) returned the visits. Opportunities to do things together arose and a strong network, an enviable one, was built. It’s only with hindsight that I recall someone telling me there was no love in church. After these couple came, no one in our circle could say that.
And let us consider one another to prpvoke unto love and to good works (KJV).
And let us be moving one another at all times to love and good works (BBE).
Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honour (HCSBF)
As to brotherly love, kindly affectioned towards one another:
As to honour, each taking the lead in paying it to the other.
Two key points for the competition God expects of us:
– Outdo one another in good;
– You take the lead!