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The mind, your mind, my mind

What is on your mind? What are you thinking about? What brought those thoughts to your mind? What issues, what thoughts, what objects and what situations have provoked what is running through your mind right now and which might propel an action or reaction? These posers may also apply to me as I continue to express myself as I am doing right now.

Our actions are primarily triggered by our thought process. The way we look at the world is determined by the way our mind has been conditioned through parental guidance, by our teachers, by our friends and colleagues at school and in the neighbourhood, by peer pressure and in some cases by what we are fed with in our religious institutions. What we hear on radio what we see on television and on screens generally also affect our thought process and our mindset.

I have once written on the subject of Mind in this column which I titled Taming Your Mind, but going through the speech made by the Sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo on the occasion of his installation as the first Chancellor of the University of Ife on May 15 1967 inspired another thought on the subject.

Of course Awo, a renowned philosopher, was speaking on the theme of education but his well known view of Mind being the Master of Man usually embellishes whatever he has to say about the overall development of Man and society.

Let us hear him:
“Whether we are conscious of or acknowledge it or not, the fact remains stubborn and indestructible that poverty, disease, social unrest and instability, and all kinds of international conflict, have their origins in the minds of men. Unless we tackle and remove, or at the very least minimize, these evils at their source, all our efforts in Nigeria to bring about happier circumstances for our peoples, and all the endeavours of mankind to evolve a better world, would be completely in vain. It is only when the minds of men have been properly and rigorously cultivated and garnished, that they can be safely entrusted with public affairs with a certainty and assuredness that they will make the best of their unique opportunity and assignment.

For this reason, I do fervently beseech both tutors and students alike in all our Universities to take their individual assignments most seriously. It is from them—from the university teachers to the university students, and from the latter to all the lower institutions of learning—that the eternal light of knowledge, and hence of intellectual and spiritual freedom, will beam, with powerful and inextinguishable radiance, to the lowest place of learning—even the nursery school.

The responsibility which thus devolves upon them is a grave one. It obliges them to intellectual honesty and detachment; so that the light which they shed may be brilliant, all- pervasive in its illumination, and unerringly guide men’s feet on the path of truth.

The cardinal aim of every academic discipline is to develop the power to think – clearly, correctly, and scientifically.

According to Haddock –
“The power to think, consecutively and deeply and clearly, is an avowed and deadly enemy to mistakes and blunders, superstitions, unscientific theories, irrational beliefs, unbridled enthusiasm, fanaticism.”

It will be seen, therefore, that the power to think clearly, correctly, and scientifically, is the greatest of all the powers that a man can possess.” Awo submitted at that occasion.

Awolowo’s submission is worth repeating for emphasis: “Whether we are conscious of or acknowledge it or not, the fact remains stubborn and indestructible that poverty, disease, social unrest and instability, and all kinds of international conflict, have their origins in the minds of men. Unless we tackle and remove, or at the very least minimize, these evils at their source, all our efforts in Nigeria to bring about happier circumstances for our peoples, and all the endeavours of mankind to evolve a better world, would be completely in vain. It is only when the minds of men have been properly and rigorously cultivated and garnished, that they can be safely entrusted with public affairs with a certainty and assuredness that they will make the best of their unique opportunity and assignment”

Poverty, disease, social unrest and instability, and all kinds of international conflict have their origins in the minds of men. The thought of swindling a fellow man or of stealing a country silly or kidnapping or murdering a fellow being all emanates from the mind. It is a wobbled mind that will permit of throwing lethal bombs on fellow human beings. The ruthless destruction of Iraq, Libya and Yemen had its origin in the mind of some racist beasts who perceive of the world as Superior and Inferior. The world is in turmoil because of an Empire of Evil whose leaders have minds coloured in blood!

Some people in the world feed their children with the bogus notion that they are superior to other races and that some other human beings are not worth more than the chickens they slaughter for dinner. Racism and bigoted interpretations of religious doctrines have irredeemably tainted the minds of millions of people who otherwise would have been saner and wiser and perhaps kinder and more tolerant.

There should be proper and adequate training for the Minds of those who aspire to public office and public service. The greatest tragedy that can befall any community or any country is to have men and women of crooked mind holding the levers of power. This applies to politics as it applies to business and industry. It applies to academic towers as it applies to the Monarchy. We have recently been witnesses to some Monarchs who behave like lunatics that just escaped from Asylums!

Wives walloping, children bashing and loathsome incestuous abominations originate from the mind. Excessive drinking, inappropriate behaviours, lying and deceit, hooliganism and bullying, bragging and exaggerated opinion of self all come from the Mind that lacks discipline and proper orientation.

Let me conclude with Awo’s thought once again:“ It is only when the minds of men have been properly and rigorously cultivated and garnished, that they can be safely entrusted with public affairs with a certainty and assuredness that they will make the best of their unique opportunity and assignment.”

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