Saturday, 2 August 2014

Thought Picnic: Find something to live for and live for it

Why die?
As I walked back home this afternoon, a young man passed by me wearing a big sign on his T-shirt, “DIE for success” it screamed.
The ‘DIE’ was quite prominent that the poorly sighted might just have seen the offensiveness of the first word and the rest of the text appeared greeked.
The first question to my mind was, “Then what?” We play with the notion of death so easily as if everything depends on dying for something to make it worthwhile, you begin to wonder what is then worth living for.
Heroes live
As a general once said, this is more of a paraphrased than a direct quote, “The best general at war is the one who makes others die for their country.”
We recognise and honour those who die for our country as heroes, we even dare to say they gave their lives for victory, if that war is won, but the reality is, it is the living, the soldier still fighting that win the war much as we do acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice of the others lost to that conflict.
The living memorialise and take lessons of the experience away with the promise that those who died have not died in vain.
To die for what?
Then, we constantly hear the phrase, “to die for”, metaphorically, it suggests giving up everything for something, but when a life is given up, whose life is left to enjoy that something? This is a question we must be willing to ask of our reality. There is a price to pay, but how high a price are we willing to pay for anything we so desire?
When I returned from protesting about the burning down of the tallest building in Nigeria, NITEL, it was then, in 1983, the President, the morning after had jetted off to India to receive an honorary doctorate, just a few weeks after the Ministry of Education had suggested Indian university degrees were sub-standard to Nigerian degrees.
My father took me aside and said to me, “There was a time when Nigeria was worth dying for, that time is past.”
To live for, always
Obviously, one does wonder if “to die for” is an ode to desperation or worse. Care must be taken for what kind of sacrifices we are willing to make, yet, some sacrifices are necessary for the bigger experience of life and dare I say, a life worth living.
Having found myself literally on a death bed, and though I have let slip in an unguarded moment when someone was doing a pensions hard-sell on me that I am a dying man, the truth is I live, I enjoy life, I live for happiness, for fun, for love and for success.
Until the day I die, I am living and I hope to live well too.

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