Sunday, December 30, 2012

On Parental Love

Love is one word that many people use for its popularity rather than for the sake of the truth of its meaning. I want to dwell on the love of parents for their children. Like we say, once we become parents, all that we do, we do for our children. I know my mum (my dad no) loved me as was evidenced in the sacrifices she made for my siblings and I. She ensured we got the basics any parent could give to their children – food, shelter, clothing and education (formal and informal). As a parent myself, I have also begun the journey of sacrificial living in order that my children get these basics. Though my parents didn’t leave physical inheritances, the inheritance of character and being which I have the responsibility of honing is more than I could have asked of them.

The reason for this write-up is to examine this virtue in the Nigerian parent and relate it to where we are today. I have been wondering why anyone will steal billions of naira if not to leave some as inheritance for their offspring. Even the holy book says a good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children. So, it’s possible many of these parents are only trying to comply with this advice regardless of how it is achieved. They thus amass the commonwealth of other parents and children thereby depriving them of the opportunity to provide even the basics for their own household.
So, can this be said to be borne out of love? Is love a very narrow virtue which doesn’t care about the rest of the world as long as my family and I have the very best? This is what capitalism and religion teaches and that is what we have unofficially subscribed to in this part of the world unfortunately.

A public official who steals the pension of citizens in order for his children to have the best comfort of life and the best education that money can buy in Europe or America or Afrika and to buy properties around the world which he can leave as inheritance for those children will claim he loves his children. They do this with hope that long after they've gone, their children will be well positioned to lord it over 'commoners'. I know many young Nigerians who are praying for such opportunity to grab a piece of the national cake and will not openly condemn these evil perpetrators because they will indirectly be condemning themselves. I have seen children of these officials been given good job placements even though they do not qualify and thereby depriving those who do from giving their knowledge and skills to such a position. Inherently, this reduces the contribution of that position to the organization and to the nation at large.

The problem with our society began when we started ignoring the means and only put value on the end. You’ll hear of parents who arrange for their children to sit for WAEC/GCE in special centres. They pay huge sums of money for this. The students are usually provided answers to questions (it is called ‘expo’) for all the subjects in these centres.  The end (the examination result) is of much value to them and the society than the means – hard work, discipline, sacrifice, character – through which the good result can be obtained.  Sadly, these parents and their children will also join to condemn the corrupt public officials.

What should one expect such a child to do in the higher institution (peradventure he/she secures admission)? The struggle to ‘settle’ lecturers, carry ‘chips’ will continue of course. And then the likelihood that this child will continue this tradition for his/her offspring is very high. But these parents love their children and will do ‘anything’ to ensure their success/happiness. What they however fail to realize is that they do not love such a child. They deny the child the strong footing to start life when they cheat, steal and cut corners for him/her. As the saying goes “children do not listen much to what we say as much as to what we do”. This sets off a generational anomaly – laziness, lack of passion, lack of character, lack of discipline, lack of commitment – and the world will never know how much of these good virtues would have been developed (and mastered) by the children thanks to the ‘love’ of the parents. Only few children get influenced along the way when they see the light and drop this ‘love-nurtured’ way of life.

Perfect love casts out fear is a verse of scripture which I understand to mean that where love is present, fear of failure/success is not, fear of expression is not, fear of rejection is not, fear of living is not and the fear of the outcome of love is not. Our society is failing because we have exalted the love of money and the term “success’’ as it is associated with money above the true meaning. We have allowed our eyes to be weakened by many glittering and fashionable things which are manufactured by other countries and so drive up our desire and greed for these things rather than to be inspired by the creation of such which in turn should drive up desire to create such things closer home and add more value to the society. We ignore the fact that through our aberrant love we have truncated passion, character, discipline and hard work which are involved in the innovative process which birth some of the things our eyes now long for at all cost.

In 2013, I wish you true love for self, offspring, kind and for the whole of humanity.

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