By OBIENYEM VALENTINE
December marks the end, as January marks the beginning, of the year. Their strategic locations in the calendar ensure that they are talked about. Were they human beings, other months would envy them. Oh yes! December would be envied because of its joyous mood; January because of its famed dryness that make people to dread it. December 2012 has gone for good.
We have just entered a new month, a new beginning that calls for renewal and re-examination. As part of this renewal and re-examination, a lot of activities take place in January. Already, prophets have to reel off prophesies. If a particular prophet is lucky, his wishes will be coincidentally fulfilled. The way it has always been, January is generally used to gauge the mood of the year.
The number of accidents that happen this month will aid in determining, certainly by guess work, if the year will be accident-prone. Inauspicious events, such as natural calamities, which happen at the beginning of the year have much to say, in people’s reckoning, on how the unfolding year will be. By January, when you visit a typical Igbo home, customarily the head of the family will present a Kolanut.
This fruit of the Kola tree has no ontological credentials/value; it is merely a symbol that you are welcome. During prayers over it, the spirits will be invoked to guide us as we journeyed into the new year.
These prayers embody our collective expectations of the year. The foregoing are not the only things that are associated with January. Cast your eyes on the years of your wondrous youth and recall what it used to be. Now, as then, when most secondary school students get back to school from Christmas holidays, they will be psychologically dislocated. Face to face with their books during studies, they will forget the books and cast their thoughts on the image of that beautiful girl they saw during holidays.
Moved strongly by the intoxicating passion of these fleeting moment, some wayward students are strongly moved to the point of sneaking out of school to see the images of their lust ones again. Some youngsters deceived by the apparent ostentatious display of apprentice-traders will be deceived to contemplate taking to trading.
What these chaps require is wise counsel on the need to see their education through as the most enduring key to a happy and fulfilled life. An experienced and matter-of-fact teacher is aware of this psychological tension. As a general cure for that, he calls on the just-returned students to resolve, forthwith, to be good students; to “cast away” the lustful disposition and embrace ennobling virtues; to shun waywardness and insolence and become good boys; to resolve, henceforth, to study hard and became shinning stars academically. Students are generally called upon to make good resolutions.
A season of resolutions indeed! Pastors of questionable pedigree, who had called on people to donate generously to the Lord in December have already changed the tone of their preaching to conform with the dictates of the time. He now says: “This is January, the month of beginning. It is the seed that you sow unto the Lord that your’re going to reap in December.
Resolve, in the spirit of the new beginning, to sow abundantly. Remember, the Scripture says that he who sows abundantly reaps abundantly, while he who sows sparingly reaps sparingly” Nothing is wrong with this sort of preaching in authentic Christian living, but most pastors are of doubtfully authenticity and purposely cloth material needs with scriptural quotations and exhortations that are full of commercial metaphors.
Drunkards, smokers, womanizers, card-sharpers, the morally bankrupt, the vile the … will all be admonished to resolve at the beginning of the year to mend their ways. Whichever way we view it, the dominant strain in the month of January is the call to make good and lasting resolutions that will ultimately edify the human society by subtly compelling the resolutionor to follow the paths of rectitude.
Our world has been wounded by strife. Man’s inhumanity to man abounds. Some people dread travelling to their country homes for the fear of the outrageous. It is unarguably established that in the villages, outrageous diseases such as Eko afo and Mbe afo exist, which can only be inflicted by metaphysical means. In certain instances, people’s progress are lucked up with a key and thrown into rivers.
Some men, devoid of morals, have ruined, or are threatening, to ruin their lives through indulgence in drinking, eating, smoking, etc. When our world is defined in terms of the foregoing, it makes sense to speak of resolutions, new year or not. We need moral regeneration in our world such that men will again rediscover the pristine virtues of love, compassion and feelingliness towards all men.
When Christ spoke of the great commandment of love, he struck the same chord. Underlining the Kantisian maxim of “Categorical Imperative” is the idea of universal love and purity of human acts. “Confucian Canon” spoke likewise.
The jains counsel not just respect love for our fellow humans, but also to the lesser creatures. Carrying the gospel of love afar, the jains do not engage in Agriculture, lest they disturb the lives lucking in the soil.
When a jain sweeps, he does not march where he has not swept for the safety of the organisms. A jain uses lanterns and candles reluctantly, but keeps them burning low lest the organisms flying around the light be harmed. This is extremism, but if such love could be shown to animals, human beings deserve something more. The call for resolution is the call to men to build societal and individual norms fertile to the existence of ennobling human values.
Thus, the idea of resolutions should not only be supported, but also encouraged. It has the capacity of re-directing our lives thereby occasioning the evolution of a humane and civilized society. If one suddenly resolves to be better, to shun bribery and corruption, to love others as oneself, what a happy society ours will be. My grouse, however, is the age-old practice of circumscribing the call for resolutions to the month of January only.
The implication is that some men who do not quite understand the dictates of good living will contentedly wait, despite swimming amidst vice, till January for them to re-examine themselves and make necessary resolutions. Some had cynically rejected the calls by friends to mend their ways on the reason that they were waiting for January, the month of resolutions. The pull towards vice is so strong.
Every minute of the day people are sinning, committing crimes and transgression. Every minutes of the day our ennobling values are made nonsense of. The call for resolutions and repentance should be as frequent as we transgress. It is not enough to emphasize on resolutions in the month of January, it should be a continuing act. Obienyem writes from Awka.