Every law, injunction and admonishment of God is for our own good; not just to enter heaven but to get us through life on earth successfully and profitably. Be diligent and work hard but have enough time to rest otherwise the principle of diminishing returns will kick in and you’ll become less and less productive. Worse still, you might burn out. Stay away from certain foods and generally watch what you feed on in order to avoid undesirable consequences such as disease. Do all things in moderation as excess of anything, no matter how good that thing may be, will eventually be bad for you.
Treat others the way you would like to be treated (the golden rule). Treating others well is smart and is ultimately for your own good as it will one day come back to you. So, you sow good to get good. Learn quickly the principles of enlightened self interest so you understand that you do good to yourself by doing good to others. Be deliberate about pondering on good, noble and positive things as a way of reducing worry and anxiety related stress. Studies have shown that prolonged periods of fear and anxiety are major causes of heart disease and even certain cancers as they lead to damaging chemicals being released into the body. Be anxious about nothing as tomorrow will take care of itself. Sounds familiar?
Love others, as you cannot claim to truly love the God you can’t see if you treat those who you can see so shabbily. There is the story of JD Rockefeller miraculously recovering from his deathbed when he was just 53 years old after being told in a vision that his immense wealth would do him no good when he arrives at his next and final destination. The first billionaire in modern history, whose effigies were apparently being hung in the streets due to his unpopularity prepared to breath his last but then returned to consciousness a different man. And that was how the world famous Rockefeller Foundation was born. JD Rockefeller lived to 97. God admonishes us of all these things not because He wants to cage us but because He loves us and therefore wants the best for us. Doing evil is ultimately self destructive as your happiness and progress is actually linked to others.
Nigerians generally yearn to be treated well and those who don’t are obvious masochists who need their heads examined. The average Nigerian however is not used to being treated well and is sadly no longer expectant of it. Unfortunately, many have also unwittingly contributed to this culture of shabby treatment by doing same themselves and failing to understand that whatever goes around must surely come around. The way you treat others will come back to you and it creates a vicious circle. I tried a little experiment by greeting almost everyone I came across during my early morning jogs; which gradually aging knees have reduced to a more age-friendly brisk walk, and the results were quite revealing.
The majority happily responded and some were even visibly gleeful. It quickly dawned on me that the hard faced security man who I had pretended not to see every morning only desires to have his existence recognized; to be acknowledged as a fellow human being. Extend to him a heartfelt greeting and watch his once grimacing face light up instantly. I’ve always felt that Nigerian leaders have never quite understood this. Treat people well and make them feel they matter, that they are not invisible, that their concerns matter and of course do good with all sincerity and they will follow you. I feel our President though he may mean well, talks to the people and not with them. As a leader, aloofness simply doesn’t work, no matter how noble your intentions may be.
We should enlighten our children that the education they are receiving isn’t just for intrinsic value, to make them feel clever or better than others but it is to positively affect their outlook on life. We must help them to recognise their responsibility to use the education they have been privileged to receive to add value to their community and society at large. Someone once said, “lending a helping hand to others is a great virtue. Teaching that value (to our children) is a noble contribution to society, one family at a time”. Gbam! Your success should not be measured by the gap between you and the next person but by the proximity. Your joy and success and the wellbeing and success of your society are interdependent and inextricably woven.
In closing I think it apt to quote a leader of our time who appears to have got it right. Hear him. “As a public servant, I gain joy and energy from the happiness of my people and from their satisfaction and safety, as I know they, in turn, wish for my family and children what they wish for their own”. Many Nigerians – leaders and the led – would do well to share this mindset of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the renowned visionary leader of Dubai. This orientation of service and faithfully adopting the golden rule, I believe should be inculcated in our children alongside the academics starting from Primary school through Tertiary education. I can think of no better way to positively influence the future of our dear country, Nigeria. This should be our legacy.
Changing the nation…one mind at a time
Dapo Akande, a Businessday weekly columnist is a University of Surrey (UK) graduate with a Masters in Professional Ethics. An alumnus of the Institute for National Transformation; with certification in Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence from Case Western Reserve College, USA and author of two books, The Last Flight and Shifting Anchors. Both books are used as course material in Babcock University’s Literature department. Dapo is a public speaker, a content creator and a highly sought after ghostwriter.