We live our lives, are born into it, in fact, off the backs of certain expectations. From the first day, we are nurtured to assume these expectations. It’s like being condemned to a particular set of beliefs, values, yardstick, and reality. Whereas, more than ever, the world is changing. The climate, both political and social is taking a tilt, a new level of alternation like we have never seen before.
Growing up, perhaps in the context of an average class family, you are born into the idea that going to school at least to University level is a minimum. Afterward, a fancy job awaits you, and then the thought of procreation follows. Right from day one, we read to pass, rack up the certificates, and take a step closer each time to this picture of us drawn from day one.
Not that I object this notion or idea of expectation, in fact this would be the ideal thought of parents that mean well and would love to give the best possible legacy they can to their kids. But what’s missing in all of these is the place of purpose and sense of fulfilment. How do we make our world a better place? Who will solve the problems better and find a faster route to resolving everyday challenges? How do we manage and stay in touch with evolution as a people? These are critical questions that the status quo expectations we were born into fail to address and are increasingly incapable of tackling.
So, I say, while education is indeed the bedrock of advancement and growth, there are other forms and ways to absorb knowledge outside of the expected norm. Not all knowledge can and will be acquired via the four walls of an institution. Not all will have the privilege to climb the ladder of educational advancement, but some will carry a keen sense of passion for something they adore and learn to make it work over time. This would be their craft. While on the other hand, some would be leaders and innovators, all or mostly achieved via the pedestal that the four walls would afford them. No harm in either, what matters is a clear sense of the end goal. The means will never be the same. They have never been the same. Why then born people into such expectations?
While religious institutions historically and in present time have been known or created to play the spiritual role, thus providing the right atmosphere to connect with and worship God, there is an equally demanding purpose that needs to be fulfilled particularly in this trying time. Their role, especially in developing economies, transcends the spiritual, if you ask me, notably in a situation where the government is not available to sufficiently tackle all the pain points of the citizens. They must rise and play a more significant role.
And if the alleged information going around is anything to go by, we now live in an era where religious leaders live in extreme affluence, while the bulk of their congregation lives in abject poverty. Then I ask myself, why spend so much on big infrastructure and advertising campaigns when the average member lacks the ability and knowledge to make wealth or a better life for themselves.
I believe in the efficacy of God, and the fact that He controls and supersedes all, but I also know He has said that He will only bless the work of our hands. How are we then expected to flourish without proper knowledge and empowerment to create our daily work? The word of God heals and empowers, but what are our religious institutions doing to empower, for instance, small and medium business owners within their congregation? What are they doing to promote life-long learning, to empower the next generation? What are they doing to lend a strong voice on key societal issues like rape, child molestation, terrorism, e.t.c.?
If there is indeed a voice in some quarters, I say it can be louder. They can and should do more. Without mentioning names, there are a few institutions already charting this course, but with the daily decline in the economic situation in Nigeria, I say we can do more! We should do more. They have a new challenge on their hand, asides being a place of worship and a platform to spiritually nourish the minds of people; now they have to physically empower the works of their hands. This is the service that religious institutions have to strategically and continuously render in developing economies like Nigeria.
And last but not the least, the followers. In as much as having the comfort and guidance of shepherds in the form of religious leaders is critical, we must understand that they are first of all human, with their own form of imperfections and sentiments. The interpretation of religious beliefs and practice will sometimes vary, hence the main reason why due diligence and building your own personal journey with your maker is critical.
There will be those who want to prey on the ignorance and poverty of the masses. There will be those who nurse an underlying agenda other than what God expects. We must be conscious and careful, and if possible take everything to our maker personally in prayer and meditation for him to actually guide us and provide the peace we require. We cannot and should not take every instruction, interpretation and guidance that comes from pastors hook, line and sinker.
Religion and its practice is no longer what it used to be. There is a changing face globally and the genuine institutions have a firm focus on humanity and making the world a better place regardless of the religious and social inclination/class. This in itself is the true form of our maker and the love he demands of us to show one another. For this to occur seamlessly, we should consider the reality that some of the doctrines and religious beliefs we were born into will become obsolete and the overarching principle should be an aim to love one another unconditionally regardless of social, gender, cultural and economic constructs.
Dignity in Labour
The gap in perception of what is right and wrong goes slimmer by the day. All in the name of doing what makes you happy? In a larger context, I am scared and equally terrified that the society, especially in the social media era, is now gradually relegating the important principles embedded in hard work and making a honest living. We shame and look at certain jobs with detest because they do not fit into our idea of wealth and elegance. As long as the end product is flashy cars, mansions and wealth, the source of income is gradually taking lesser relevance.
While all these lay a bad precedent, especially for kids unborn and growing up, I am afraid we are nearing a time when borderline vices like drug trafficking, scam, embezzlement of funds, and corruption are beginning to seem okay as long as they deliver the luxuries of life. Even worse, we have now seen cases where losers are made of those who refuse to toe the line of these vices and stick to their legitimate means of livelihood.
If you are yet to catch my drift, here it is: the S.I unit of wealth is not what they used to be, and rightly so. Wealth doesn’t come with fat bank accounts any longer, true wealth that is. These days, wealth is a reflection of how much love, happiness and hope you have to give regardless of the turmoil. Bags and bundles of happiness, this is the new reflection and definition of true wealth.
While it is very easy and convenient to lose grip of what matters, owing to the growing aesthetic value of the world we now live in, we should never make the mistake and conclude that real work is now for slackers and dullards. If we resort to this line of thinking and get away with it, we only create a deeper hole for the next generation of kids growing up and unborn. We would have created a precedent of just get rich and famous, regardless of what it takes. We would have created a precedent where the next generation is unable to think of creative and legitimate ways to make wealth while solving real-life problems. And in the process, we might become a society with problems that might never get solved because we are no longer wired to think. No one will explore their talent and leave a positive impact without harming their moral compass and conscience.
Finally, you have got to be your own biggest fan. Hype yourself, dream, make moves to improve yourself across the board, embrace the little victories, learn from the not so good experiences, and most importantly, live and daily fight for happiness. That’s the best you can do.
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