Is ill of man the will of God?

THE German automobile giant, BMW, recently put on display a modified 2-Series Coupe and 6-Series Gran Coupe, self-driving cars that can negotiate difficult driving conditions and slide round corners at high speeds, with an accuracy that is light years ahead of even racing drivers.

Both cars are fitted with a Lidar system – a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analysing the reflected light – 360 degree radar, ultrasonic sensors and cameras that track the environment, enabling them to make driving decisions.

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These technologies, coupled with electric braking, throttle and steering control that comes with all new BMWs, means that the cars can change lanes, slide round corners and even perform slaloms at high speeds without any intervention from the driver.

According to the manufacturers, “The prototype can pilot its way at high speeds and with exceptional precision on a slalom run between cones, adheres to a marked out circular course regardless of the friction coefficient of the road surface and executes an obstacle-evading lane change to perfection.”

While that was happening in the United States, Nigerians back home were mourning the loss of compatriots who were killed in Lagos penultimate Wednesday when a 33,000 litre fuel tanker, as a result of brake failure, fell and spilled its contents. This resulted in an explosion which consumed two persons, five vehicles, many shops and brought untold hardship to quite a number of Badagry Expressway residents.

With that singular incidence, the poverty rate in the country has gone up a notch because it is a safe bet that many of those affected by the calamity took no insurance policy that could have entitled them to any compensation. So, they have to start again from the scratch, looking up to friends and families to get back on their feet in a society devoid of any form of safety net.

In his reaction to the disaster, one of the victims said it was the will of God.

Will of God? Will of God for a brake to fail? Will of God for a man’s means of livelihood to be reduced to ashes? Will of God for those who were born without any form of deformity to become disabled because of a person’s recklessness? Will of God for a prosperous man to be reduced to poverty? Will of God? Is the ill of man the will of God?

While it is indubitable that God plays a significant role in the affairs of men, believing that God would do for us what we ought to do for ourselves is a delusion grandeur that has been partly responsible for our stunted development as a people. God won’t fix the roads for us. He won’t fix the vehicles for us. He won’t even obey traffic rules for us.

Will of God? That is the kind of thinking that has made us the kind of people we are; always at the mercy of the elements. That is the type of thinking that has made us un-progressive as a people. That is the type of thinking that has made us lethargic and uncreative. It is the kind of thinking that has made it difficult for us to effectively combat insurgency, kidnapping and armed banditry. It is the type of thinking that has restrained us from demanding good governance from our leaders. Instead of challenging ourselves to get better, we throw up our arms in the air and expect God to fix for us what we are best suited to handle. Surely, our level of development is a reflection of our level of thinking.

The question to ask is why is it that while other countries are already considering obstacle-evading technology that makes it safe to drive even on a winding road, we are still struggling with trucking premium motor spirit on the highway, thus exposing our compatriots to extreme danger and destroying our not so good roads? If they can achieve such a feat, why can’t we?

Man is not designed to be at the mercy of his environment; rather he is wired to be its lord. But unfortunately in this clime we seem to think that the environment is the master and we are its slave. Were that to be the case, Dubai would still have remained a desert to be deserted by all and sundry. By turning a desert to a global centre of attraction, the United Arab Emirate has shown that the environment is answerable to man and not the other way round.

It has been said that doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different outcome requires a visit to a shrink. Our society will not change until we change our thinking. Believing that things will change when they will or when God wills is nothing but hallucination. The power to change our lives lies with us.

The Japanese have said that good thinking leads to good products but I think they miss it by an inch, good thinking produces good life, not just good products. Good life will start for us as a people when our thinking becomes good.


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