Yesterday evening after a long period of allowing my Bible lie in limbo, I dusted it and started reading again. For no reason to pin my staking nails on, I had allowed Abuja’s dusts to form layers on the bonded leather covers of my ‘Study’ Bible for a pretty long time. Fact of the matter is, sometimes you get tired of church life and can actually tag along and ‘survive’ by going to church and doing all the activities: sing, dance, shout, and do what others are doing…and are we not all acting unscripted movies in church in some way, though they aren’t been premiered in Hollywood, or our famed Nollywood?
With Bollywood eating up and raking in almost all the Oscars with ‘Slum dog Millionaire’ we can be certain that someday, with the help of Hollywood’s producers and meticulous directors, our Nigerian Nollywood actors and actresses can nudge up some Oscars in the farthest future…So sorry for digressing! So last night in the quietness of my room, I opened up my Bible and a quick reference to Jeremiah chapter 9 saw me flip the pages backwards and I landed on verses 22-24 and boy it came on fresh like never before. It was as though the verses x-rayed and analyzed the 3 top influencers of history. They are the ones that Times, Newsweek and top media outfits feature in their special editions. They are the ones that make the celebrity pages. They are the renascent men and women that the media use to sell their tabloids, magazines and all there is to endorse and market. Come to think of it, the top 3 groups that make the news are:
The wiz kids, talented music superstars, artists, models and biz wizards (wise men/women)
The Political heavyweights and Power Brokers (men & women of might)
The Fortune 500 biz owners and corporate moguls (the super rich men/women)
We all aspire to make it to the headlines either through the exploitation and deployment of our artistic talents, or we make it in business and become super rich, or we call the shots in government and our words become as powerful as the rays of the sun that shape weather and dictate the tides and seasons. We all long to be ‘ up there’ and be counted as the wise, powerful and rich. It’s purely human nature, and it’s not an abomination to make it to the top and neither does God abhor the desire for anyone making it to the tops. For he desires that we conquer our environment and harness all our corporate potentials as human beings and am not sure if God is appalled by the progress we have made in the management of human and natural resources in the world.
But bottom line is, if all we aspire to do is make it to the top of the corporate ladder, or have our songs, books, paintings, artworks etc make it to the best selling list, or become influential and powerful in the sociopolitical arena of life, then we are not yet as special as we think because others have made it before us too. That’s what the business schools help us to achieve… to make it to the top of our career ladder. That’s why we long to be part of the political caucuses that are tagged the ‘king makers’ and majority party so we can wield political power.
The humbling reality of human experience is that even after you make all the money, and hit the tabloids’ headlines, there is still that inner longing to become an influential and powerful person. For if you’re not considered powerful and able to influence government’s policies and all, you may not really feel so fulfilled among the league of the influential if you haven’t tasted the intoxicating pull of political power. Hence, the ultimate for the ‘Wise’ and ‘Rich’ is to join the league of the ‘Mighty”. That’s in sync Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, and do we not all want to be wise, rich and powerful in all sincerity? Ask Obama why he vied for presidency and you’d not be too stunned with his answers. Ask Hilary Clinton why she wanted to get back to Capitol Hill as secretary of state and you won’t be far from the truth. Or have you asked George Weah why he wanted to rule Liberia without any political credential as a politician and technocrat? It might explain why Nigeria’s politicians are not wary to kill, maim and blackmail to make it to the ‘seat of power’.
As I read my Bible last night, I realized that society hasn’t changed much, and the celebrities of yesterday are not so different from the ones we have today for they all belong to at least one of the 3 categories earlier highlighted. It doesn’t matter whether you find them at Hollywood, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, or at Harvard. It doesn’t matter if you find them in the boardrooms at Victoria Island, Johannesburg or Nairobi. And all these moguls, gurus and experts etc will like to call the shots politically and it doesn’t matter if their political target is Nigeria’s Aso Rock, White House or Downing Street.
Come to think of it: Wisdom separates you from the bunch; Riches lift you above the pack; but Power makes you far more Powerful than the wise and rich! And aren’t the wise, rich and powerful among the group that are wired to not have humility in their genes. They are often considered as arrogant and walk and talk with a swagger, and are really proud of their enviable accomplishments. And do we not all wish we can occupy similar positions or at least use their names to gain favours and get contracts and all in Nigeria?
While acknowledging all these, God in his own infinite wisdom, riches and might has a different counsel. He wants the wise, rich and powerful of this world to just brag and boast about one thing: Their individual KNOWLEDGE and UNDERSTANDING of who GOD is. And what struck me was that God didn’t condemn or blacklist anyone who aspires to be wise, rich and powerful. For in spite of all that we’d achieve in our professional career, net worth in terms of money and assets, and even political achievements, God still expects us to know him deeply and intimately. And the minimum array of all his enviable attributes he has and wants us to showcase are basically, his loving-kindness, his sense of justice, and his high moral sense and integrity which he calls righteousness.
The talented and wise ones, the superstars and celebrities are often seen as proud but God wants the wise to be loving and kind. The rich can often be brash and insensitive but God would want that to be toned down by the display of a sense of justice and fairness. And for the powerful and mighty, God expects that he/she will modulate their power of influence with a sense of righteousness. We have had wise men, rich men, and powerful men who exhibited this nature that God had desired, and human nature also desires this arrangement. For instance, we all admire and celebrate Nelson Mandela because as a powerful ruler, he personified the virtues of love, kindness, humility and sense of justice and fairness. Do we not like the superstars and rich boys who are humane enough to interact with the ordinary man on the street and through their generosity and benevolence have been able to improve the lots of the poor, disparaged and disadvantaged. Political leaders who have a sense of justice will impact their society more than those who are in politics for personal gains.
And I wondered how the world would be if for a start, the Christian or Muslim who professes to know God starts becoming bastions of love and kindness. They are supposed to be a set of people who have a sense justice since they have exchanged their weaknesses and faults with God’s righteousness as preached from the pulpits. Now I know it’s really simple to have the world change ‘over night’ but I wonder if it will really start with me, or someone else who is an adherent and follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ like I have publicly professed. But the truth be told, the world will respect Christians more…only when they can identify the Christian as one who is loving, merciful, kind, empathic, generous, tolerant and displays integrity and fairness in all his dealings with fellow humans!
Excursion: Jeremiah 9:23-24
s is what the LORD says:
Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the LORD.
“Don’t let the wise brag of their wisdom.
Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits.
Don’t let the rich brag of their riches.
If you brag, brag of this and this only:
That you understand and know me.
I’m God, and I act in loyal love.
I do what’s right and set things right and fair,
and delight in those who do the same things.
These are my trademarks.”