Recently , the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) acknowledged in their twitter handle that the level of toxicity that pervades our political discussions, “has reached the level where bridges are being burnt, personal relationships are being strained and an unnecessary tension fills what should ordinarily be patriotic and enlightening conversations on how to move the nation forward.” I agree with PDP. The time to stop the toxicity, hating and ridiculing was due on May 29th, 2016.
In the spirit of the International Day of Friendship (July 30th), therefore, I am urging all the good people of Nigeria to take a break from all the negative acts of bitterness and name calling throughout the month of August 2016. Rather than hate, I challenge my fellow countrymen and women to decorate the hearts of their adversaries with roses. Defrost your hearts with some little acts of friendship. If your heart is so rotten that true affection is no longer possible, fake friendship for one month and see if something permanent will come out of it.
If you are a Muslim, remember the (Al Quran 16:90), “Indeed, Allah enjoins justice and the doing of good to others." The interesting point in this verse is that Allah is not making reference to the love of relatives. This verse is simply telling all Muslims to be tolerant, good, sympathetic and forgiving, towards others.
If you are a Christian, remember that ancient Cain was the first who allowed the cancer of bitterness and malice to take over his heart and we all know what the result was - he murdered his brother. Most importantly, remember Christ’s teaching in Matthew 5:43-48: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good.
If you are a traditionalist (like myself), practice and cultivate the spirit of “Live and Let Live.” If you are an atheist, I trust you won’t even hurt a fly.
So, let us all turn a new leaf throughout the month of August and let the songs of the birds herald this new beginning. As we demonstrate our love for one another, the sun will rise in the clear blue sky and its rays will pierce the thick foliage with majesty and songs of love. As we express our love for one another, a strong wind will spring up from the Ekiti, driving clouds and rain away, allowing the sun to reflect on the still waters of Uguta Lake.
This August, restrain yourself from derogatory posts or comments on any religion or different ethnicity on social media. I know it’s hard but try. Reach across and have a frank conversation with at least 5 people from different ethnicities this month. If not anything, the economic hardship in Nigeria today does not recognize ethnicity or region. Share your pains, hope and expectations.
Leave your fears and suspicion and embrace your neighbors and you will be amazed as to how much we all have in common. The same unclean, unsafe and pot-hole-filled streets and roads; same crooked senators and members of the House of Representatives that pretend to care about the masses; you must, therefore, show true love to your fellow mortals with whom destiny has surrounded you.
From the open plains of the magnificent Adamawa Highlands, through the Savannah to the tropical rainforest, let us display our diversity of cultures. A spectacular mirror of mirages, as herds of poor and the rich, brave the hopelessness to reach the water source along the edge of the Atlantic.
In order to start loving positively, we need to let go of ancient hatred. So, let us gather at the junction of 322 Road, Festac Town and buy suya from our good friend “Aboki” even as we demand more onion, spices or extra fatty meat. That’s bridge building. Let us converge at 321 Festac Town ‘joint’ and enjoy hot goat pepper soup under the brilliant star-studded night sky of Lagos. Let us gather at the Sabon-Gari market in Kano and chew kola nut together.
Let us all contemplate the beauty of the wilderness, from the refreshing pool of Cross River. Soar with the winds over the oceans of sands and mountains, from Brinin-Kebi to Auchi through Okene and from Bar Beach to the banks of the Niger River. Tell your neighbors from different ethnicity and religion that they are beautiful and your perception about them will change. Tell your neighbors from different ethnicity and religion that they are wonderful and your relationship with them will never be the same.
This August, learn to love by monopolizing the listening rather than the speaking. Through listening, you will learn, understand and hopefully love. The time to stop poisoning the mind is now. So, this August, be sure to be deaf to malicious gossip. Don’t let anyone poison your mind. Remember that promoting hatred may make you feel good for few hours, but then, there is the chance that the poison of hatred will linger and spread.
This August, let your actions speak louder than your words. Waste no more time arguing what good leadership and followership should be. Be one. Stop asking or wondering how you can be more loving, just express love. Build a haven of the mind. I know there is a spring of goodness and love in all of us. Dig dip. If necessary, dig deeper for that is where true love is. Those who seek shall find.
At this point if you are still interested in promoting hatred in this new month of August, I have good news for you; Donald Trump is recruiting. You are thus invited to go and line up in front of the American Embassies in Abuja and Lagos for a free visa to the United States. Just tell them that your breed is currently in high demand in the US. If not anything you can help Trump Build that wall on the Mexican border.
Finally, I will leave you with the words of Siddhartha Gautama (who is revered as the "Shakyamuni Buddha") in Buddhist scripture Dhammapada verse 3-5, “In this world, hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate. This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible. Let us, therefore, let go of ancient hatred and try love nwa-nti-nti.