From the tides of terrorism that have reached a climax in Nigeria to the torrents of similarly horrifying tidings across the world, it will probably take a full time job to keep track of the tragic events that have become a normal part of our day-to-day life. I was badly shaken when I read of a 25-year old man in Ogun state, Nigeria who was accused of slaughtering his
ex-girlfriend and having sex with the cadaver. In a similar development, a 48-year old British father has admitted slitting the throats of his son and daughter in the aftermath of a bitter divorce with their French mother. And just as I prepared this piece for publication, news filtered in from London – a British soldier has been killed in a savage assault after being stabbed and hacked with a knife and meat cleaver! Almost every day, someone somewhere exhibits some savagely cruel and depraved behaviour, putting the rest of humanity in jeopardy.
Whilst there is absolutely no justification for acts of violent extremism and terror, the pressure of social change and the resultant maladjustment could readily predispose generally responsible people to actions and behaviours which ordinarily, they wouldn’t have considered. Although most people would not take extreme actions like slitting someone’s throat or unleashing terror on the community, a good number have sought solace in
self destructive habits in a bid to vent their frustration; and many more have contemplated suicide. According to World Health Organisation, suicide rates have increased globally by 60% in the last 45 years. Such alarming statistics!
We may not be able to analyse the facts of each case, but one thing is clear – these are precarious times. Over the past few decades, we have paid so much attention to global issues like terrorism, climate change and economic crisis while little or nothing is being done about the more personal issues of family life and community re-orientation, character development and value-based education. While it is vitally important that we address global problems, it is equally important that we tackle the more fundamental challenges of everyday life as personal transformation is the precursor for global development.
As I contemplated the oppressive and depressive waves of terror that have threatened to engulf us, I remembered the words of the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live, can bear almost any how.” Then I realised that most people are simply going through the motions of everyday life without a clearly defined life mission and appropriate support systems to accomplish that mission. To this end, it is vitally important that we audit our lives from time to time. What are we really living for? How are we making the world around us better than we met it?What contributions are we making to humanity in general? Much more than ever before, we must consciously take charge of our lives as we accept personal responsibility for our happiness and self-fulfilment without violating the common good.
Recognising the fact that this life is not all there is, we must determine how our existence will impact positively not only on our immediate environment but also on our posterity. We must then create the right climate to actualise this as we develop the right attitudes, cultivate the
right habits and form the right associations. My heart goes out to the families that have been affected by the horrendous trends, and I grieve with them. May we be strong enough to maintain a positive outlook regardless of the depressing circumstances.
Philip Amiola is a teacher, writer and campaigner of empowerment. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria and tweets from @PhilipAmiolaNo tags for this post.