Last week, I wrote that whenever our ethics cannot withstand our temptations, we are in greater trouble than we understand, for our character defines who we are—both to ourselves and to those who have chosen to be around us. It is our character that determines who we are, not money and what money can buy. In fact, it is said that character is the prophecy of destiny!
This week, I want to start by saying that it isn’t our fault that society has adopted a lifestyle that embraces a lack of character. It only becomes our fault when we become part of the problem. How, then, do we become part of the answer? It is by celebrating character—not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of others.
This is where it begins to get sticky. We are now facing, in our collective societies, those who, through levels of deception and chicanery, have achieved a place of leadership that gives them a platform from which they are able to exploit the innocent. This becomes an almost insurmountable challenge because rather than seeing these positions (in government, business, marriage, parents, or life) as those that are set in place to protect us, we seem to be suspicious of them all. The dishonesty and insincere become the standard from which we gather our information.
After seeing, reading, and hearing of all the exploitations going on in the world, we are almost afraid to trust ancient wisdom. Yet, these established; enduring truths are the qualities that history is written about; they are the reasons why the greats have become great. The current generation of Nigerians hardly churns our great men, because ancient wisdom is being despised by them. To become great in this day and time, ancient wisdom would need to be warmly embraced and walked out in shoe-leather!
Therefore, regardless of our possible reticence in trusting these time-honored precepts, let us begin…Those who will dare to take a step have a great journey ahead. But those who are still afraid can always find a reason not to posture themselves in this manner; many won’t believe the safeguarding power of these truths, even after repeatedly witnessing the undeniable and proven success they bring to the lives of the honorable.
People of character desire to shape and discipline their lives according to time-tested principles. Interestingly, in this day and age, many claim to have an interest in truth, but although the arrival of the Internet has brought an information explosion into every home, few seem to be willing to react for and grasp real truth.
For every truth we discover, we will also face a counterfeit philosophy. We see this demonstrated within the context of the issue of compliance. There are two philosophies of compliance in the world. The following mental picture will give us an idea of these two ways of thinking.
Three men are standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. The sergeant in Arms—who was standing on a platform just above the deck, suddenly cried out, “Take cover! Hit the deck!” Two of the men immediately hit the desk. The third man remained standing, asking, “Why? What’s happening?” In an instant, a missile exploded on the deck. The men who took cover survived the blast, but shrapnel killed the third man, who failed to heed the Sergeant’s warning.
The third man demonstrated an understanding of compliance that is built upon counterfeit philosophy. He remained standing on the deck, asking the question, “Why?” Only when he understood the reason behind the command was he willing to comply.
Modern Western culture bases its understanding of compliance upon this philosophy. In this age of independence and information gathering, a person asks questions first and then decides if he wants to obey. In the past, when greater respect for authority and leadership was demonstrated, people usually didn’t have to be asked a second time to do anything. They complied the first time, without questioning, because they not only believed in the integrity of the person who had given them the instruction, but they also possessed an internal trait of trust.
This is a more ancient and accurate understanding of compliance. It tells us that a person complies first and seeks to understand later. Any questions he then asks are not to test the one who gave the instruction, but to preemptively prepare for wise decision-making in the future. Character proves its respect for virtue through its compliance to moral precepts. If we choose to live according to the counterfeit philosophy of compliance, the day will come when we will wish we had learned to instantly comply. A leader will say, “Take cover!” and while we are standing there, insisting on knowing why, a “missile” will hit us from behind, bringing destruction and loss. This is one of the major reasons why there is much casualty amongst the upcoming generation of Nigerians.
In rounding off this soul-searching piece, I like to zero in on what Dr. Jerry Newcombe penned on the 4th of July, unveiling the ingratitude attitude of an American soccer star, Meghan Rapinoe—toward America: “Rapinoe raised eyebrows in the 2018 season by taking a knee though she is playing for the U.S. Women’s National soccer team. Her taking a knee only came to an end starting in the 2019 season because the team passed a rule requiring players to stand during the anthem. But she right away said that she would never sing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ again, nor would she place her hand over her heart because she hates America. Sadly, she is by no means alone. There are millions of ungrateful Americans today.”
No matter what happens, never you bite the hand that once fed you.
Till I come your way next week Monday, see you where rock-solid leaders are found!