Two visuals seriously disturbed me last week. The first was the video of a man on a motorcycle, most likely a commercial motorcyclist. He refused to let go of his bike on a flooded road until the flood washed him away to imminent death. The second was the video of another man who was being persuaded not to jump into a raging river. He held on to the rail on the side of the bridge. He soon released his hands and dropped into the stormy river below. Blood-chilling!
Due to the prevailing circumstances in Nigeria and many parts of the world, where only uncertainties are certain, many people are resorting to desperate measures that endanger their health and threaten their lives. Apart from those who commit suicide because of frustration, young men and women are reducing themselves to the lowest of the low by abusing substances to get ‘high’. Everything is topsy-turvy as ideals have given way to idiosyncrasies.
But as gloomy as everything may seem, there are important lessons in six little stories I once came across. Their messages of faith, trust, hope, confidence, love and attitude are timeless. So, the pathway to peace and progress is to be faithful, trusting, hopeful, confident, loving with the best of attitude.
The first story is that all villagers once decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer, all the people gathered but only one boy came with an umbrella. That is faith as the boy was faithful that the prayer would be answered. Nigerians should not lose faith in their country. They should be faithful enough that at least, of the several millions of people who fervently pray daily, there would be someone at least whose prayer would be answered by God and everything will be all right.
The second story, which I even as recently as this Sunday alluded to in an interview with the Sunday Punch, is simple. It is that if you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them. That is trust. As a people who claim to believe in God as Muslims and Christians, our trust in God should not waver and we should be glad that He is faithful. In spite of these challenges that tantalise the country, God will still take charge and not abandon us. If politicians cannot be trusted, we should at least trust that God is there for us and He will not abandon us.
The third story is also straightforward. Every night, we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but still we set the alarms to wake up. That is hope. At no time should we lose hope because as author E. B. White once wrote, “Hope is the thing that is left to us in a bad time.” Keep hope alive!
The next little story is that every day, we plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future and that is confidence. We should be confident that whatever challenges we face shall pass and there will be ease after difficulty. Just as it is natural for daybreak to come after night, no matter how long, we should be confident that ease shall succeed every difficulty.
The penultimate one is that today, we see the world suffering but still, we get married and have children. That is love. In this age of gung-ho tactics where everyone is at the mercy of unguided tongues, caustic pens and guided missiles, love is the solution to the problems of the world. If we love one another and appreciate our common humanity, we shall hate others less and find common ground more.
The sixth little story is also poignant. On an old man’s shirt was written a sentence, “I am not 80 years old. I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience.” That is attitude and our attitude to a large extent determines our attitude. An attitude of gratitude always makes us to appreciate what we have, that we often take for granted, while an attitude of ingratitude would always make us lament, grieve and complain.
Let everyone know that problems had been in this life before we were born and problems will still be there after we leave. No matter how challenging life is, what is always important is to put the glass down, take a break and cast the trouble upon God with absolute faith, unshakeable trust, single-minded hope, remarkable confidence, true love and positive attitude. With these, the fog begins to clear and we are ushered into a new perception of our reality.