Hope keeps the world going. Little wonder the German, Martin Luther, says: “Everything that is done in the world is done in hope.” Life is lived with the hope of getting the best out of it. In whatever pursuit, hope is the critical factor that links all others. With hope, you have everything; without it, you lose all. We hope for the good life; the good job; the good spouse; the good home; the best automobiles, now aircraft; the most resplendent attire. While some achieve their dreams and hopes, for the majority hope soon turns to hopelessness. But that doesn’t stop anyone from hoping, from dreaming, from nurturing a vision.
With the hope that his or her hopes would someday turn a reality. This is the power of hope, what President Barack Obama calls the’ Audacity of Hope.’ Nothing was ever achieved without hope. No man ever became great who didn’t have hope, giant hope. Jesus Christ was a man of hope, the prince of hope; Martin Luther King Jnr; JFK; Obama; M.K.O Abiola; and many others. Hope, hope, there’s nothing like it! Every man or woman with breath in his or her nostril holds on to hope or dies. It is hope that prolongs the life of the pauper. He hopes one day he would make it.
The rich also need hope: they hope and pray for immortality. Until the very end, some of the super –rich believe they would never die; that a miracle would happen somehow to preserve them and their property in eternity. But that is insane kind of hope. Everyman dies. Death defies everything: hopes, dreams, ambitions, goals and all aspirations. However, the poet, Alexander Pope, believes and rightly so, that, “hope springs eternal in the human breast.” But what happens to a people whose hopes are often perennially subdued and killed by their nation? You have hope, but your nation works hard at thwarting it.
You have dreams, but your nation ironically turns out the dream killer. You want to soar but the weight dragging you down is propelled by your nation. Do you then throw your hands up and give in to frustrations? Do you stop hoping because hope dimmers abound in the nation? Not in the least. Ardis Whitman says: “Look forward to the beauty of the next moment, the next hour, the promise of a good meal, sleep, a book, a movie, the likelihood that tonight the stars will shine and tomorrow the sun will shine. Sink roots into the present until the strength grows to think about tomorrow.” Indeed, hope is like Spring, which according to the English poet, Robert Bridges, “goeth all in white, crowned with milk-white flocks of light over heaven.” This is the season of love.
The season to rekindle the love of God over mankind which led to His offering His only begotten son as sacrifice for the sins of man. And as the good Book says, there is no greater love than God offering His son. And Jesus Christ also willingly surrendered His life for the redemption of mankind. So, at Xmas, we show love to our family, loved ones, friends and foes alike; we strive to be Christ-like; we imbibe the spirit of sacrificing for others. However, for me, hope is what Christ represents for mankind. Hope of redemption; hope of eternal life; hope of triumph of God over Satan; good over evil; kindness over wickedness; justice over injustice; light over darkness; truth over falsehood; security over insecurity; and progress over retrogression. Between love and hope, I am still trying to figure out which is the strongest propelling factor for man. Are they really separable?
Can you have love and not hope, or vice versa? What about faith? Where does faith come in? Without faith, can there be hope? Do you need faith to have love and hope? I found myself ruminating over these concepts last Friday as I watched the musical outing at the Ovation Carol and Award night held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos. I wasn’t there, but what I saw at the live telecast told me there is hope for this nation. Nigeria is a blessed country, blessed with all kinds of talents. Blessed with gifted musicians, stand-up comics and others with raw talents, which they are using to dazzle the world.
Through dint of rigour, personal sacrifice, hope and optimism, the Nigerians who are ruling the entertainment world are proving that there can be no obstacles hindering anyone realising his dreams or ambitions. They are surmounting the hopelessness of a nation which offers no talent schools or incentives to creative Nigerians. I am thinking as I watch singer after singer display his/her talent: what if the entertainment sector was better funded, would these guys not win Oscars and Grammies? Would the skies not be their limit if there was a conducive atmosphere for them to blossom?
Not just in entertainment, but all sectors: education, sports, medicine etc. How come our kids flunk their school certificate examinations here, but go on to make all-round ‘A’ in the United States and the United Kingdom? How come we once produced Hakeem ‘the dream’ Olajuwon and other sports greats in the field of soccer outside this country, but who never made much waves back home? How come Nigerian surgeons and other medics are rated best in the world, while they never got the opportunity to prove their mettle here? Of course, the answer is obvious: visionless leaders. Greedy leaders. Hope killers, killing the hopes of Nigerians.
The hope of a better Nigeria, where electricity goes uninterrupted; industries flourish; employment booms; citizens don’t need to open an eye at night while sleeping; housing is not a luxury; where life is truly beautiful. Is it possible to truly have a Nigeria of our dreams? Of course, it is. Are we going to someday get the leadership that would rev the engine of growth and development? Yes, again. When would that be? Sooner than we imagine or believe. The signs are there. Nigerians are becoming more conscious of their rights. They are becoming more discerning by the day.
They are asking more questions. By 2015, the stakes would be higher. Those who have been living in deceit and corruption at the expense of poor, harried Nigerians, would need to work harder and device smarter schemes. Old schemes are becoming obsolete by the day. The Nigerian you meet on the streets today is not only hungry, but angry. Very, very angry at the state of affairs in his country. He is mad at the hopelessness in the land. He knows this is not the way things should be, if not for the inefficiency and stealing in high places. He knows those frustrating his dreams and hopes.
He also knows he can’t be waiting indefinitely for answers to his problems. In frustration, things could snap except something urgent is done to address his grievances. But, is any one listening? In this season of love, as the wealthy amongst us throw champagne party and dump left overs in the garbage bin, they must spare a thought for the less privileged, those who just need something, anything to fill their stomachs, those who are not bothered about the festivities of Christmas or the fantasy or fuss over a new shirt or dress; the orphans, the motherless babies; the physically challenged; the homeless and the jobless; the ordinary Nigerian whose only sin was to have being born in a country where love and service are alien to those who govern them.