A 20th century German philosopher was asked how he was doing. He answered in a very unusual way; He responded to the usual pleasantry, “I plan to visit myself today, but I wonder if I will find myself at home!” It prompted many philosophical inquiries as to the meaning of what he said. Eventually, he explained that each individual and their ethic combines with others to build a stable and just society.
To form that virile and ethical person, the first port of call is to the “interior castle” where, each person is a judge; an arbitrator of what is good, what is right, and what is wrong. As long as each individual’s ethic is right, not just for himself but also for the common good, on each visit to the self, you will find yourself at home.
Conversely, for the morally depraved, even if he were ever able visit himself, he will never be home since he will be busy scavenging and pillaging the commonwealth. The depravity of each individual is like a cancer, when not caught early, it has the tendency to metastasize and corrupt otherwise healthy cells.
The Nigerian society has fallen into a miasma of self-inflicted injury by self-deceit, half-truth telling, and outright falsification of everything true. It is under this consideration that the soul of a nation dies.
The recent revelations which show how looting has become so all pervasive and endemic should make any sane person shudder. Worse still is the rate at which these men and women are not bothered but vying to out each other in the exchanging of bribes, kickbacks, re-looting recovered looted funds, receiving monies designated for public infrastructures and doing absolutely nothing!
Our nation has lost its moral compass; it is at best floundering about, rudderless, and without a vision. How does a nation combine the worst possible kind of morally reprehensible acts and successfully make it the best of what is bad about humanity and social associations? The legislative, the executive, the judiciary, the armed forces, banks, traditional institutions, religious organizations and places of worship; they all seem to be competing in out doing each other at promoting the best corrupt practices.
Every single citizen understands and acknowledges the derelict nature of our nation’s social contract. If there are still people in Nigeria, who think the first citizen is some long awaited messianic figure who intends to fight corruption, strengthen our formerly nascent democracy, revamp the economy and unite the nation, such a person should have his or her head checked.
There is nothing to be said that is new when it comes to how moribund the nation has become. Stupidity has enthroned itself in the highest offices in the land, and we shamelessly celebrate it. As soon as there is breaking news of another rationally incomprehensible act of corruption, while you are still trying to digest the absurdity of the act, another one comes up to make the previous look like child’s play. As if the nation is not in trouble enough, no one says or does anything. We simply move on to the next buffoonery!
It never fails to amuse me when Nigerians act as if some ‘god’ will appear and change Nigeria. A lazy mindset, which prioritizes “give us this day, our daily bread’, makes it impossible to envision a tomorrow where all will be proud of a nation that truly is great. As a people, we can continue to delude ourselves into “e go better” but never asking “How?” This is the million-dollar question, we, as a people are unable to answer. It is the same reason why we shall continue to make the same mistakes yet expect some kind of miraculous intervention and different outcome.
In a final analysis, questions are many that we must confront as a people. However, these questions elicit personal and collective soul searching and honesty. Unfortunately, in my opinion, honesty is not our forte currently as a people and neither is soul searching. If Nigeria were to make an effort to visit herself, she will find, sadly, that she is not home. Because she is out in the fields of blood, pillage, murder, kidnapping, systemic looting of the nation’s wealth by the political class.
It is evident that the social consciousness of the nation is not in consanguinity with the ideals of our founding fathers and that of a modern and progressive country. I continue to wrestle with the questions about my country and my people, which I fail to find answers for; what sort of hubris is so powerful to turn the hearts of citizens against their own nation? How does an entire political system turn from service to greed, pillage and unbridled endemic fraud?
What makes corruption and embezzlement so ‘righteous’ that those sworn to uphold the law are the first to bastardize it, from the bench, the pulpits, legislative chambers, the force, and the chair which carries the insignia of the nation? How did a nation allow itself to come to a seismic shift in culture where men are praised for been thieves, while hardworking and honest people go to their graves ignobly? How does a nation re-invent itself turning from what has become the usual to what ought to be right?
As I pay a visit to myself daily, I find myself at home, but unfortunately, even though home, I am depressed because I can no longer feel the soul of my nation.
John Segun Odeyemi, is a Catholic priest, he writes from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.