The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?
I just realized that I haven’t written an opinion piece in a long time. You would notice, that I try to keep my personal life out of the Internet (in this case, my Blog) as much as I can. My opinions, of course, are influenced to some extent by my personal experiences. Nevertheless(I like this word), I would like to share my few thoughts in the next three to four paragraphs (I am not counting).
Presently, I am a member of the National Youth Service Corps. Some call us Otondo, some call us Corper. I think the name that has stood out for me is ‘Buhari Pikin’. I still don’t understand that one. And no, I am not getting into the argument of whether the NYSC should be scrapped.
I went for the Orientation Programme in a state in Eastern Nigeria. (Please permit me to spare little personal information. Thank you.) Culture shock? Not really. I mean, I can’t count the number of times, people walked up to me and started conversations in Igbo. And I have to admit I wasn’t as adventurous as I would have liked. I had the famous ‘Okpa’ (Soya Bean Pudding) and ‘Abacha’ (African Salad) only once. And I learnt to say ‘I am in Enugu’ in Igbo. Not good enough, I agree. But I digress.
Sometime in my life, I resolved to be that one person that has a kiss and a hug for everybody in the world. (I have a feeling I have blogged about that already.) I find that I am really most happy when I am able to meet someone’s needs. Prior to the Orientation Camp, I took great delight in my ‘selflessness’. But three weeks living in a place where you and all your luggage share the same bed, where you have to struggle for water, where you spend hours on a queue because some other people feel they can smartly join up at the beginning of the queue, where you struggle for everything, where everybody gets on by cheating others, where you have to pay for everything, where you have no access to clean bathrooms and toilet, three weeks like that will make you realise that love is a choice and not a feeling. You don’t feel it. You act it. You live it. You choose to be kind. You choose to be patient. You choose to be taken for a ride. You choose to hope for the best. You choose to see the good in everyone around you, to see the good in the person who thought they outsmarted you – even if you were fooled. You don’t just feel, because I assure you that your feelings will explode. Trust me. And there I was seeing who I really was and how my nature was buried because I was comfortable. I was thoroughly ashamed of my behaviour for the greater part of those three weeks. Am I justifying my actions? No. I am just saying I want to stop and think about the next person regardless of what the conditions are because that is what love is. It is not always in sweet words and poetry and flowers and sex and pleasure. It is not only between the mother and her child. It is not always in giving when you have extra. When you sit in the bus, must you be begged to move to the end of the seat before you do so? When you use the bathroom in a public place, why do you mess it up? Is it because afterall, ‘that’s what the cleaners are paid to do’?
The other thing is, and I will stop here, ‘that this is the way things are doesn’t mean that this is the way they should be’. We have normalised sufferings and poor quality of life that we think it is ingratitude if others complain of the bad conditions of things. At the orientation camp, we complained bitterly about how we had to take our baths and ease ourselves in the open because the toilets weren’t in use; about how there was no water; and so on. The response was that the camp officials were subject to the same conditions so we shouldn’t complain. I mean the officials really tried to make things easy, I think bearable is more appropriate, but it still didn’t change the fact that we were subject to poor living conditions. I guess it is a survival mechanism. It is not like we have a choice, and this shouldn’t be an excuse. I mean, if people are stealing from IDP camps and diverting funds meant for soldiers at the Boko Haram war-front, what is to prevent them from stealing from the money meant for some brats who want to get paid for doing nothing but wearing khakis and snapping selfies in them for nearly twelve months.
We really need to begin to look out for one another. I still find it unbelievable. Money, food items, and donations meant for people with nothing but the clothes on their backs are being stolen by their fellow human beings with three jeeps, two houses, who can even afford to have three (and even six) square meals at, say, the Wheatbaker every day for the rest of the year. Even if they don’t fit the last description, they still have better lives than those at the IDP camps really.
Stop and think. Not about yourself. For once, do something for someone else.