Minus character, plus disaster

If you ask me, dear reader, the tragedy of our today’s life essentially lies in the disaster that has befallen our education. It is a global disaster really but the consequences are more prevalent among us little ones in their “Third World” who are just copycats with acute inferiority complex.

Where did the rain start to beat us, as the late Chinua Achebe would ask? Why does Nigeria lack character but is rather characteristed by disaster? How did things go wrong so much that we are a nation in a dare need of moral re-armament?

While I was reflecting on these questions, like a manna from heaven, or what is called “deu ex machina” (machine god) in Greek tragedy, I stumbled upon a short passage that addresses the issues at stake. I share it with minimal modification thus:

“When the ancient Chinese decided to live in peace, they made the great wall of China. They thought no one could climb it due to its height.

“During the first 100 years of its existence, the Chinese were invaded thrice…And everytime, the hordes of the enemy infantry had no need of penetrating or climbing the wall because each time, they bribed the guards and came through the doors.

“The Chinese built the wall but forgot the character-building of the wall guards. Thus the building of human character comes before building of anything else. That’s what our students need today.

“As one of the Orientalists said, if you want to destroy a civilization of a nation, there are three ways: 1) Destroy the family structure 2) Destroy education and 3) Lower the role models and references.

“First, in order to destroy family, undermine the role of Mother, so that she feels ashamed of being a housewife.

“Second, to destroy education, you should give no importance to Teacher, and lower his place in the society so that the students would despise him.

“Third, to lower the role models, you should undermine the Scholars, doubt them until no one listens to them or follows them.

“For, when a conscious mother disappears, a dedicated teacher vanishes and there is a downfall of role models, who will teach youngsters VALUES?”

Therefore, it goes without saying that the disaster that has befallen Nigeria is due to what I call our “character deficiency syndrome”. Our problem is the antiquation of character and the glorification of vanity. So, the equation is glaring: when character is negative, disaster is automatically positive; minus character is plus disaster.

The three agents of character development in Nigeria are in trouble: the Mother, the Teacher and the Scholar. Mothers have disappeared into the working places and offices rubbing their chests with men in a stiff and cut-throat competition. The milk of kindness has dried as preference is to give young ones cow milk in order to keep breasts “in shape”.

Children are left at the mercy of poorly motivated maids, nannies and teachers who unleash their frustration on the disillusioned kids. It is a reality of our time that our young mothers sacrifice family for career and the society is paying dearly for it.

The level to which teachers are despised can be imagined. Your sister or daughter has come home to introduce her fiancé and she says he is a teacher. Of course, the reaction will vary from hostility to indifference. Any invocation of love would be met with resistance. Besides, one is not sure if there are many girls around who will say “amen” to the prayer that they shall be married to teachers. That is the extent to which we have socially destroyed the all-important Teacher!

Lastly, for scholars, no one reckons with them any longer. How many young ones follow scholars even on the social media? The role models have been extremely lowered and it is the corrupt-souled entertainers that call the shots.

Youngsters and pranksters are the new heroes and heroines of the society. Their trademark lies in considering character as “story for the gods” with their lewd lyrics, lecherous poses and nude images. But they drive the latest cars, display the latest designer wears and loom large in public view.

To rescue our society from this disaster of zero/minus character, the Mother, the Teacher and the Scholar must be accorded priority and given respect. The trio serves as the school system that ultimately moulds the young and the society at large with proper education and character.

There is change in Nigeria but it is left to be seen in due course whether “the more things change, the more they remain the same” or there is real reprieve.