‘Life is better when you are happy, but at its best when many others are happy because of you’

With troubled heart, low spirits and morale, I could see nothing but gloom all around me. The usual permanent smile on my face was gradually fading away. I struggled hard to conceal it from my patients who needed my reassurances to combat their own worries and anxieties.

I was able to identify the cause of my mood change. It was mostly due to the negative social media messages and bad news rumbling in my brain. A Catholic Priest had been ‘executed’, another killed and burnt by some unknown people; several people kidnapped, three young, dynamic police officers and one civilian were gunned down by some soldiers, ostensibly to pave the way for the escape of a man described as a billionaire kidnapper.

A cousin of mine whom, just a few weeks before, I had commended for looking about 20 years younger than his real age had died shortly after an operation that was meant to prolong his life! A few weeks before, suspected Fulani herdsmen had kidnapped a good friend’s son and his companion.

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To crown it all, the Chief Medical Director of a Federal Teaching Hospital was abducted by unknown gunmen in broad daylight and his two security men were killed. Hate, fuelled by violence, is on the rise!

“Dr Ben, stay strong and resolute. You mustn’t let these things weigh you down,” I quickly cautioned myself. The first patient that day gave me the necessary psychological boost to alter my mood. “I don’t have an appointment,” she said.  “I have just come to solicit your assistance to invite to the hospital for treatment- a poor old woman in my neighbourhood – who has just recently gone blind.

I will pay all her expenses, including surgical bills, if surgery will help. She doesn’t know me and I would like to be completely out of the picture,” she added.

Touched by this uncommon gesture of charity, and of bolstered by the fact that several months back, the same quiet, kind and caring lady had, without any prompting, of her own accord, walked into my office to offer financial assistance  to 10 cataract blind patients for sight restoration surgery. I quickly scribbled a message and sent it to the address she had provided.

No sooner than she left, I received a phone call from another patient who wanted to express his gratitude for the success of his operation the previous week by supporting any number of indigent patients his donation could reach. What a cascading effect of goodness! I was deeply touched.

These two spontaneous acts of kindness and generosity brought back the smile to my face and set me thinking in a positive way. “How can we inculcate this way of thinking by these two quiet and unsung heroes of the day into our children and young ones?” I asked myself.

It occurred to me that despite all the noise made about fighting corruption, the fight is yet to begin. What is currently going on is the recovery of some looted funds from the looters. The fight against corruption must begin in the head! The first step is to vigorously promote the right values and attitudes in our society by words and actions of our leaders at every level of the society.

We need inspiring, diligent and dedicated leaders with the right mental attitude who are ready to deploy their time, talent and treasure in the service of their people without any intention of reaping rewards. The citizens’ loyalty to the leadership must be through those values because then and only then can one be said to be loyal to the nation and not to the individual leadership or to subgroups.

Secondly, there must be social justice. The reward of labour is wages. To deny a labourer his just wages is to subject him to mental stress and torture. It is a crime against humanity. To pilfer the resources of the society entrusted to your care has dire consequences for the maintenance, development and growth of the society. It is a harbinger of death and destruction-death on the roads, in the hospitals and destruction of properties, social chaos, breeding of uncaring people and criminals.

I saw this on the wall of a friend’s office, “Life is better when you are happy, but at its best when many others are happy because of you. Be faithful in touching others’ heart. Be an inspiration. Nothing in nature lives for itself. Rivers do not drink their own waters; trees do not eat their own fruits. The sun does not shine for itself and flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves. Living for others is the rule of nature. We are all born to help each other. No matter how difficult the situation you find yourself, still do good to others.”

This unknown author, like the two heroes of today, are passing exactly the same message to us – the first by words and the other by action. If we want a better society, this is the way to go.

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