THE HARD TASK OF LIVING
For some months now, I have not had the luxury of sitting before the TV to watch news. One thing or the other has always kept me from home, especially now that I am trying to mold a new home for myself.
Everything has been fascinating and troubling at the same time. And thank God, I have missed watching the TV for that long. It has at least saved me from terrible headlines, albeit so little.
Nevertheless, I still haven’t failed to catch a glimpse of the happenings around- in my immediate environment and in the wider world. I use twitter less. I often read from BBC app and I get a lot of news feed from Facebook. Naijacare.com has been my favorite news portal for local news because it aggregates news from almost all the major local newspapers. I have also enjoyed reading on medium lately. And I gather news from surfing the net. So by any rate, I still manage to get in the know of what is happening in the world.
Anyone who is conversant with news this year will know that there have been more tragic headlines than there have been headlines of good tidings. And that is disturbing enough. But it’s even more worrisome when you consider that natural disasters have taken the back seat in the overall report of sorrow. What this implies is that the vast majority of the negative headlines we get are manmade. And sadly, they are quite many.
The word “terror” is no more strange to the world these days. Millions of people have practically lived through it. It has made peace scarce and rare. There is just so much tragedy happening everywhere so much so that peace is universally threatened.
Europe has witnessed more terror attacks in these past months than at anytime in the past decade. Just few days ago, a gunman shot nine people dead in Germany, and shot himself too, while injuring several others in the process. In France, a Priest was killed by two gunmen after he was held from his church alongside some other church members. Prior to this, there have been a good number of terror attacks in France. France is fast becoming a peculiar victim these days. Just the other day this month, a man ploughed a lorry through a crowd killing over 80 people. Other European countries too have not been completely spared.
Still in this same month, there has been an attempted military coup in Turkey and it’s needless to say that, that led to a good amount of needless blood shed.
Cases of shooting have been rampant in the US in recent years. And racial killings haven’t particularly gone down well with many of us. Just some weeks ago, two black men Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were murdered by white police officers in separate cases. Factually, those two are just the most recent cases in the long list of black people killed by white police officers. There is a strong sentiment of racial profiling and the evidences are hard to deny. Just remember Michael Brown et al. the bandwagon effect of this increasing sentiments is the backlash of some folks against the police. Few weeks after the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, there have been reported cases of black shooters killing white police officers. About 5 white police officers were shot dead in Boston recently.
On the surface, that may look reactionary. But there is a universal orgy of violence set at loose. One of the headlines I read this morning from naijacare.com reads like this: “Breaking: 17 Shot at Florida Night Club”. News like this are everywhere all the time. And all these are still behind the violence in the Middle East.
In Nigeria my beloved country, there haven’t been less of tragic headlines floating around. Thank God that the number of negative breaking news as a result of Boko Haram’s bomb blast has declined in recent times. Still, there is rising reports on vandalism and economic sabotage every now and then. The economy is very bad right now, no small thanks to the militants in the south and of course poor governance. These aside, there are several reports of kidnapping and killings by Fulani herdsmen, with the later even more devastating. There is also excessive use of force by security men. All of these put together results in unnecessary bloodshed and it is worrisome.
Apart from these, there are also incidences that baffle understanding. Just this past weekend, there was a report of a pastor in Ogun state who chained his nine years old son and locked him up for about three weeks. When the police eventually arrested him, he said he was only trying to exorcise the spirit of stealing from the young boy. Few weeks ago also, I read the story of three women sentenced to life imprisonment in the south. These three reportedly conspired and murdered a girl child of less than ten for ritual purposes. And as a matter of fact, there are several similar cases being reported every time.
Putting all of these happenings around the world together, you start thinking of a universe that is going insane. Our planet is being reduced to a war zone. Crime and all manners of vices have become the norm. The bottom line is that humanity is suffering. Everyone is suffering. Everyone who is still humane is suffering.
However way one may choose to look at these, the world has not become better because of them. There are people who live in constant fear and apprehension, not knowing what will happen in the next minute. For those of us who live in developing countries, our portion is double. Perhaps, more important to us is the economic misery that resides just outside the door. You step out, and you step into it. There is real economic hardship out there. People can’t get jobs. People can’t feed well. There is starvation on an outrageous scale – right in the midst of plenty. Nothing just seem to be working fine.
And really, it’s just as much pain trying to figure out just why there is so much mess splashed on the face of all humanity. And this is where another trouble comes.
Religious people, especially Christians, tell of the end time. The claim is that all the bad things and factors and issues that have become wrong with the world are just symptoms proving that we are closing in on the apocalypse. Personally, I find this very disturbing. If an apocalypse is what we’ve got on our hands, then we should be much more worried than we are now.
Christians believe in the reality of heaven and hell. Muslims do too. But if the world should come to an end now how many people will qualify for heaven? I don’t know. But on the basis of all the vices on offer right now, I don’t think they’d be much.
Still, if we are to subscribe to the idea that the world is messed this much because the end is near, then we are indirectly saying that we are not responsible for where we have come and what we have become. Then, we can hang everything on the Supreme being whose script we have all been acting out all along.
On the other hand, I believe we have to take some responsibility for what our world has become. The world is what it is now because we are the way we are, at least partly. And unless we are all ready to shoulder some responsibility, we are going to continue to act out the script of this Supreme being who is leading us to an apocalypse. And I fear, that someday, even before the supposed apocalypse, we are going to self destruct.
But everyone of us accepting some responsibility can help in many ways. We can reduce humanity’s suffering by being of a little help. And nobody need a billion dollar to this. Neither is Ali’s strength a requirement. I believe that we when we are truly connected, we can be stronger. We’re connected more than ever, still we’re losing touch with one another. But when we are truly connected, we’ll feel another man’s pain and empathize more deeply. It’s this connection that can give us the strength to act.
And I feel that this is already taking shape. People who have experienced terror in one form or another are more susceptible to connect and feel the pain of the next man. That is where the healing begins. When we know that there is someone next to us who truly understands. It mends our broken hearts quicker.
I believe that this is the time for us to be most resilient and refuse to be conquered by the forces of evil and violence. It is the time to neglect our differences and unite. We can all help someone to heal quicker. We can all be the balm to somebody’s pain. And it doesn’t cost much. Just look around, there is someone who needs your help. There is someone who needs a smile, a lift, or a hand.
The world is buzzing indeed. People are still up and running, smilling and dazzling in elegant dresses. But subtley, beneath those laughters are real concerns. And yes, some of those concerns are genuine. Sometimes, they’ll need your assurance, at least for the time being, to make them feel that everything will be okay.
There are people who fill in the gap with one form of addiction or the other. They’ll need your understanding, kind words, right attitudes and love. Not being damning judgemental and brawling destructive criticism.
And still, there are those who only need to see through the other perspective to be broken. In the meantime, before they do so, they’ll need your patience, and acceptance eventually.
And is this too much to ask? Just consider the alternative! We could self destruct before the eventual apocalypse. You know why? Because when we don’t show love and understanding, when we keep being unfairly judgmental and critical, someone somewhere is going to become more hardened. He may end up becoming a psychopath. Or someone else may become feeble in mind and thus become more susceptible to being hypnotized. And when that happens, we could get another suicide bomber or something worse. It’s a long list. Just think about it.
The world may be sick, but we are the medicine that the world need. Let’s awake, and live, and love. Then, the task of living in this time would have become less hard.
This is for all the victim of violence in the world.
I share your pain.