Mahfouz A. Adedimeji, PhD.
It is a dangerous world we live in today; one of its most defining characteristics is conflict. Everywhere one turns to is in chaos. The situations in Yemen and Syria are not abating and there are recent stand-offs between India and China on the one hand as well as India and Pakistan/Kashmir on the other. Currently, Azerbaijan and Armenia are locking horns in a brewing deadly conflict on the status of Nagorno-Karabah. Besides, there is a disturbing rhetoric of a war of words between Italy and Greece.
In Africa, though the African Union’s theme for this year is “Silence the Guns” as part of its commitment to containing conflict on the continent, violent conflicts still continue to rage as guns remain booming with furious fire in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Libya, South Sudan and Central African Republic. In Nigeria, the Boko Haram terrorists are becoming so bold and daring to be directing attacks against a state governor while ordinary people are at the mercy of all manner of gun men.
It is sense-numbing that despite the heights of civilisation that modern men and women have attained, including going to the space and back, they cannot still explore the space of their hearts to discover the secrets of mutual co-existence. At the end of the day, hundreds and millions of people are living in despicable sub-human conditions as a result of man’s inhumanity to man.
However, when the rationale behind all conflicts ravaging the world at large and various communities in particular are atomized, the real reason behind them is simple: lack of love. This is exactly the point Mahatma Gandhi was making when he said, “The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.”
The tension and turbulence that underpin our inter-group and intra-group relations as well as our interpersonal conflicts are also due to the absence of love in our dealings with one another. This is more so because when there is no love, darkness, hatred, evil and disaster are the consequences. There can’t be peace without love and there can’t be development without cooperation and mutual understanding.
“Love is the greatest healing power that I know. Love can heal even the deepest and most painful memories because love brings the light of understanding to the darkest corners of our hearts and minds,” Louise Hay once said. Whoever is deprived of love for the other is deprived of life’s abundant sweetness because love is a “universal force” like no other.
In a letter attributed to Albert Einstein, which was supposedly addressed to his daughter, Lieserl, the physicist noted that when he proposed the theory of relativity, very few people understood him and what he would reveal would collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world, shattering them into pieces. He urged his daughter to keep the letter until the time society would advance enough to understand him. Quoting him fairly at length won’t be irrelevant.
“There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not been identified by us. This universal force is love.
“When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe, they forgot the most powerful unseen force. Love is light, that enlightens those who give and receive it. Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others. Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals. For love we live and die. Love is God and God is Love.
“To give visibility to love, I made a simple substitution in my most famous equation. If instead of E=mc2, we accept that the energy to heal the world can be obtained through love multiplied by the speed of light squared, we arrive at the conclusion that love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits.
“After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces of the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy…If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in our life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.”
Love is indeed the one and only answer as the power of love is enough to solve of the problems of the world if we really deploy it. When we love others as we love ourselves, resentment, hostility and hatred that fuel violent thoughts and actions will evaporate from our hearts and we shall construe one another as peaceful partners in progress.
The power of love is universal and far-reaching. Love is truly the solution to the problems of the world.
UBUNTU: I AM BECAUSE WE ARE
That’s how the South African activist and clergyman, Desmond Tutu, defined the concept of Ubuntu: I am because we are. By internalizing ubuntu, it would be easy to appreciate that our humanity derives from the way we treat others. To dehumanize any human is to dehumanize oneself because all human beings are linked to or connected with one another. Thus, being human is dead in those who are consumed by racism, xenophobia, ethnocentrism and bigotry.
This philosophy of ubuntu was demonstrated by a group of African children with whom a Western anthropologist lived in a village as a way of studying African norms, cultures, customs and values. The anthropologist placed a basket of delicious fruits under a tree and gathered the village children up to say he was organizing a competition and whoever got to the basket first owned the fruits exclusively.
After drawing the line to and prodding the children to start racing, he watched with disbelief as the children took one another’s hands and ran slowly together to the tree. They all then sat underneath and gave themselves a treat eating the fruits together.
Shocked by their display of common purpose and solidarity, he asked them why they ran together when one of them could have easily outrun the others and win the basket of fruits. A young girl looked up to the researcher and asked him, with the cutest and most innocent voice ever, “How can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?”
Certainly, the world has enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed. It is therefore important to always appreciate that needs, unlike greed, can be met. It is therefore crucial that we give consideration to others and not turn our needs to greed.