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Value for human life

I think the thing that singles out a good man or woman is the value he or she places on human life. Those who decided to create nations or countries as well as human groupings and organizations including churches were thinking of how human life can be preserved and made better. That is why I shudder looking at what is happening today. People are doing things that put people in trouble and difficulty and they stand aside and more or less enjoy the spectacle. They promote policies and actions that have led to the death of people. Some people do it out of carelessness. Some derive pleasure in seeing people die. Some join the armed forces to be able to handle weapon and kill fellow human beings. There is no other job they love doing except to be in the armed forces where they have the duty to shoot people.
It was considered risky to allow people unfettered freedom to deal with one another in the world. They were put under authority that can check-mate their excesses. One of the limitations placed on human beings was to place the highest restrictions on people killing one another. It was to be punished with death too, to deter everybody. But what is happening today?
Everybody wants to kill everybody. Everybody is living in self-defense. Everybody is resorting to self-help. Everybody is an adversary to everybody. Each person wants to finish the other person who is supposed to be after him without any proof yet of that. Everybody is an enemy until/unless proved otherwise. This mindset is the self-defense that is in vogue. And it seems a good enough reason to place no value on any human life whatsoever. In a world where everybody has become everybody’s potential killer, we pray to God to bring fire down upon our mere enemies. Were God to be answering all these prayers, who would have been spared? Is there anybody who doesn’t have an enemy who might be saying this kind of prayer? Anybody who doesn’t believe in God should consider this decision not to listen to these sorts of prayers. In this circumstance, who will save the other? Where will the endangered species run to for protection? God of course! Where is he? The work in sorting out this is so impossible.
God is not an invisible salvation or savior and succor. He has people appointed to save people, through whom he sends things. I think that what is called government is one such marvelous channel. And its first role is just caring for people, nothing more. Well, to care for people you must value them and their lives. You must protect them and care for them. This means keeping them happy. It means making them friendly towards one another. These seem sophisticated aspects of this Divine assignment to the government. With the rate people are suffering and dying nowadays it doesn’t seem to me the government is aware of its essence, let alone being capable of doing the onerous duty. If you challenge the government on it’s value for human life, you will score it zero. Any justification of the existence of government will expose ones ignorance on why the idea of government was conceived. Based on current performance, I think it was and is a foolish idea. It’s no use, especially in our part of the world. I want to ask: what is the government really doing either for us or for itself?
I don’t want to localize this problem. But it helps to come back home and look at the troubling cases of insensitivity, negligence, incompetence and irresponsibility. Here it is lazy. It is unresponsive. It is uninspiring demoralizing, inconsiderate, narrow-minded, greedy, and shameless; law- less, murderous, criminal, sometimes cruel and very unreasonable. It owes people it should not owe, who should owe it. If there is a choice between raising the budget for arms, that kill, and for food that keeps people alive, you will agree with me the Ayes will easily have it in favour of arms. Where is the value for human life in that?
People are dying here in quantum and nobody cares what kills them so as to take action about that. This is wrong. When one dies, the major concern should not be how to afford the costly burial, the so called decent burial. It should be the cause of death, what killed the person to avoid it in future. Government should also work on promoting inexpensive burials. Those will prove its interest in the value of human life, because in them tremendous resources will be saved for those living. What can government do if it cannot simply reflect on these things and take the people along.
Not only the government, the church, individuals, clubs, societies, industries, companies and all organized groups in all forms should value human life. This is the meaning of the bible saying in Eccl. 12:13 which says, “fear God and obey his commandments, for this is the entire duty of man.” To value the human life is the real import of this injunction. When a project has lost its purpose, it makes no sense any more. Let’s say here that the purpose of government is to place value on human life. This it has failed to do and it is not doing. I don’t know if it has ever done that. From the look of things it is not likely to do it in future.
Whatever any government can do starts from the value it places on human life. In retrospect, we know that government actions here ended up leading to loss of lives because value for human life was never the objective. It has never had that in mind. Otherwise people wouldn’t be dying the way they are dying. What the government has in mind is to punish people. In the process it doesn’t mind killing them, to get rid of them and the problem. This is the solution they know. The number these days is too staggering. We started with colonization which led to the struggle for territorial ownership and control, enslavement and the killing of those who resisted. That struggle was between owners and invaders. It led to unification which they termed amalgamation. I don’t know what would have been the big deal in struggling with other people’s land with them and making them into one country.
It was imposed with force. Fighting ensued.
People were killed.  Was it banditry, international burglary or what? That dislocated the economy of the place, abolished the local tradition and culture. That introduced internal strife, unfair competition and rivalry in which people are dying. Religious conflicts of all types started. Educational disparity was introduced. Those who learnt to speak the dominant foreign languages and those who didn’t became sworn psychological enemies and went after each other in a bitter struggle both for power and the survival of the fittest. Local tongues were deliberately cut off, leaving the people no language with which to communicate today.  This will have no end as long as this language and educational dichotomy and disparity have persisted.
As far   as I am concerned this is the deadliest blow dealt the people by their colonizers. It is also the bane of democracy in the country – the fact that the majority are incompetent in the official language in use. The language factor is the singular reason the north will never feel one with the Igbo; and the Igbo and Yoruba find it impossible to trust each other. Until it is removed the problem of underdevelopment will persist. It will be permanent. Nobody will understand the meaning of unity and how it should arise or even apply. The political structure worsened the situation. The parties went along tribal lines and every attempt to make them ethnic neutral has failed. The parties are being used for ethnic favouritism and nepotism that divides the country all the more. New political structures have introduced new ethnic rivalries that led to conflicts and deaths. The ultimate casualty in this is the value of human life. Rather than place value on human life people now value their tribal loyalties. This is so because it provides the solid structures that keep them in power. It is in this evil circle that most people have died and continue to die without any one feeling any qualms about it.
The primary interest and preoccupation of those in power is how to remain there, not how to place value on human life whether it is inside or outside the areas where they come from. So long as this is so, there will be no peace, progress and development in the land. Those who make progress out of it will never be at rest among themselves if the equitable distribution of the resources is questionable. It will be so because the government has never known how to distribute things equitably. The areas cheated in the equation question their exploitation by sabotage. They become militants, vandals, pirates, kidnappers, insurgents, thieves and criminals. Those of them in positions of authority get involved in what they call money laundering. All of them don’t plead guilty of anything. They feel sure they never did anything wrong. The names they are called hardens them. They don’t reform them. They act in revenge. They believe it is either they do what they are doing or they die. Their lives are of no value even to themselves. Why should the country live, they reason?  Even if the country manages to live, it should suffer loss. They themselves might as well die so long as the country suffers and is hurt. Nigeria wishes them death too and somehow nobody in the country will be exempt as a potential adversary in the country’s opinion. The country’s interest is not in anybody’s life. It is do me I do you……
This is the way I assess Nigeria’s reality for now. This though is not a tale of woe without hope. It is a wake-up call. Something must be done for the murky picture to change. Those to do it are yet to be born. I’m not crying for Nigeria. I cry for people like me whose lives are a bloody waste. Not that we have not done anything significant or remarkable, Nigeria has been out and out to demolish what we have achieved like the way Owerri and its people are without notice perishing and being demolished in the name of ‘urban renewal’. If by it Owerri becomes very beautiful tomorrow, where is the value for human life in what is happening, as people lose their means of livelihood through self-employment, their business capital, their perishable goods and wares and their places of business? God help us, we may say. But why can’t fellow human beings have value for life? What does it cost? The  new orientation is to have value for human life.

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