If truth were told, words are one of the most powerful weapons on the face of the earth. They bind, they loose, they feed, deceive. Words are the blueprint of creation, the fuel that drives all things… Properly harnessed, the power of one’s words can build dynasties, change destinies, transform the most extreme circumstances, and provoke matchless mutiny, love, loyalty and liberty.
For instance, a man proposes to the woman he loves and she runs around planning ecstatically for the big day. The man never signed a paper agreement; all he did was ask ‘Will you marry me?’ Mere words and yet, this is enough to elicit weeks of feverish preparations for a rite which will make tremendous impact on the lives of many.
Soon the duo exchange vows and have you ever stopped to think, that the thread which will hold them together for ever, are the two simple words ‘I do’?
On the lighter side, friends promise to honor our invitations to luncheon or dinner and we expend time, money and energy in earnest preparations for their visit. Although sometimes, there is little or no guarantee that they will keep to their commitment.
In the corporate world, words on paper (typed, stashed and spiral bound) build and crush financial empires by the minute. In parliament, they shape the way we buy and sell, wine and dine, the number of children we can have, the span and richness of our lives.
Bible scholars say the ‘word became flesh’, but in my opinion, words are constantly running to flesh and dwelling amongst us. They are a force to be reckoned with and we know it. The question then is, ‘why are we still so flippant with them?’
Take for instance, the Nigerian National Anthem. So rich with imagery and meaning and yet mumbled senselessly by a majority of us mostly because we feel compelled to.
But why say words we do not mean? Especially words as binding as a pledge! A pledge is a sacred oath. Each time we make good our promises we are blessed and as often as we fail to keep our words, forces that we cannot even see punish us for it.
By the following words, we give them full liberty and consent.
i. ‘I pledge to Nigeria my country’: an acknowledgement of Citizenship to a named Country, flaws, warts and all.
ii. ‘To be faithful, loyal and honest’: a vow of fidelity and transparency in all humanistic endeavors, in dealings with the government and institutionalized authority, regardless of the rampant lawlessness.
iii. ‘To serve Nigeria with all my strength’: (what a laugh!) solemn oath to labor ceaselessly for the well being of the nation. To do this whether it be convenient or not, personally rewarding or not, difficult or not. To work conscientiously and credibly in any capacity or office to which one is appointed and if without any position of leadership, to give utmost support to the authority to which one is subject to.
iv. ‘To defend her unity’: a grave commitment to desist from all acts of violence be it on ethnic, religious or other grounds. To see all Nigerians as rightful and equal citizens irrespective of their tribal origins and to treat them as such. To desist from speech and actions which could be detrimental to the continued oneness of this country. In a nutshell, to have the mindset of one who belongs to a sovereign State and not a sore marginalized or maligned faction.
v. ‘To uphold her honor and glory’: a rigid decision to think not only what this Country can offer, but what one can offer in return. A commitment to shield one’s country from all dishonor/disrepute and to freely offer one’s resources (intellectual and otherwise) for the betterment of one’s Society. In summary, to act with decency toward one’s Country at all times, whether or not one is particularly enamoured with her. So help us God!
Let’s face it; we Nigerians really relish washing our dirty linen in public. Yes, this is not the Country to die for, but vociferating a litany of curses and complaints will not help us make any headway as a nation. For goodness sake, let us train our lips to do away with such asinine utterances as: ‘this country is hopeless…useless…jinxed… ‘ Etceteras.
I mean, what’s the point? This is the only place that many of us will ever know as ‘home’… Americans can bad-mouth their White House officials to high heavens, but I admire them for one thing. They will not let air fresheners in foreign national colours dangle from their rear view mirrors. They have a fair share of their own problems and yet can almost convince you that theirs is the greatest Country in the world (though this is debatable). We on the other-hand will tell anyone who cares to listen that ours is the worst patch of land on the face of the planet!
Next time you hear a compatriot crooning the National Anthem or reciting The Pledge, ask him if he really believes in the words. If he doesn’t, ask him to shut up! That way, we can at least have less noise.