Uncle Adam, you chose to eat the apple! – 1

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstance, the seasons or the wind, but you can change yourself – Jim Rohn

I began to understand and experience success when I started taking responsibility for my failures. – Tope Popoola

As John got to a level-crossing on the well-lit road, he looked ahead and saw under one of the street lamps on the other side, a man on all fours groping around as if searching for something. As soon as he crossed, John walked up to the man and asked what the problem was.

“I am looking for my key and I can’t seem to find it,” came the answer.

“In that case, can I join you in the search for it?” John offered.

“Oh sure. That is very kind of you”

John also got on his knees and together they began a frantic but fruitless search for the lost key. After over an hour of searching without success, John asked, “Are you sure you lost the key here? We have spent over an hour together looking for it without success!”

“Actually”, the man replied, “I lost it inside the house, but the light under the streetlamp is brighter, so I figured I could use it for the search!”

While we may laugh at his foolishness, his story is an apt illustration of the lives of most people. Too often, we look outside us for what we lost inside us! And when our search is fruitless, it is convenient to blame those external factors or hide under their canopies to tell ourselves that there was nothing we could do to remedy the situation.

The universe owes you only ONE thing. It is called a harvest. The earth is a faithful reproducer and magnifier of seed sown, not seed kept, eaten or squandered. A Yoruba proverb (I will do as good a translation as I can but the sense will be clear) wonders why a man who is desperate for a gulp of palm wine would expect to get it simply by getting to the base of a palm tree, opening and lifting up his mouth when he has neither administered a cut on the palm tree nor fired an arrow at a gourd hung around its neck. In contemporary parlance, there is no free lunch even in Freetown!

If there is anything that has kept far too many people bound to one spot in frustration and anger, it is the entitlement mindset. Most of us were raised in the belief that the universe owes us. That is understandable considering the fact that the early years of our lives were spent in dependency. We grew up depending on our parents who probably as civil servants or paid employees of an organization, also depended on the organization or government. We did not know how our school fees were paid but we know that our parents came up with the resources when required. We went through school, private or public, largely subsidized in the most part. It is therefore natural to expect that the system should provide room via a job and every other thing we require for a decent living for us. So we go through life searching for the key to our essence from the light that is provided by others. We seek our happiness from what others do to us. We seek affirmation and confidence from others. We hate it when rejected. We owe our career path and progress to others and what they offer us. Our spouse is always the one at fault when the marriage is falling apart. As a cop-out, we plead incompatibility as if someone imposed the spouse on us and we did not have a say. Even if you felt pressurized to have got married to the wrong person, it was YOU that walked down that aisle!

When we cannot find what we seek in the light of others that we think shines brighter than ours, our natural response is to throw tantrums and blame everyone around us who did something that stood in the way of our finding our real space in life.

“I am losing my mind because my husband doesn’t tell me he loves me.”

“I would have made it big in life if only my parents sent me to a good school.”

“I would not have left my marriage if my wife had been prettier.”

“I am poor because the Nigerian economy makes it difficult for anyone to succeed.”

You are free to add yours.

It is called the blame game. It is as old as humanity itself. Adam, the first man created in the biblical account of creation, had everything going for him. He was created with AUTHORITY to oversee a very sophisticated infrastructure that had everything he would require in place. He did not need self-actualization because he was created with it as an internal software. Then he was given RESPONSIBILITY over every other thing created. To do that, he was given all the required resources to succeed in that calling, including, when God saw that it became necessary, a female companion called Eve to assist him and lessen the drudgery of the work.

Only one condition was attached. He was not to eat the fruit of a particular tree. To do so would attract debilitating sanctions.

Then one day, someone called Satan came calling in the guise of a snake, another creature in the garden of Eden where Adam ruled. Satan ignored the presence of Adam and spoke to Eve. He convinced her that eating the fruit was actually a better proposition that would open her husband and herself up to possibilities that God was keeping away from them. With minimum resistance, Eve bought into the lie. She ate the fruit. But she didn’t stop there. She extended the offer to her husband who was looking on while it all happened (yes, you read that right. Contrary to popular theology, he was with her!); and even though he was the one given the express instruction not to eat, he partook of the illicit delicacy.

With responsibility comes accountability. So when God came calling, Adam went into hiding. When he was sniffed out and confronted on why he committed the infraction, he wasted no time in throwing the blame at God’s face,

“The woman YOU gave me made me do it”

And when confronted, the woman’s response was prompt, “The devil made me do it!”, a statement that has gained notoriety in the perfidious lexicon of the irresponsible, the rapist, the murderer, the robber, the adulterer and the pedophile who, faced with the consequences of their heinous actions, seek a soft landing on the pad of retribution.

Both of them were ashamed and perhaps sober. But neither was sorry! Why feel sorry about something you can blame someone else for?

A man was found guilty of murdering both his parents. Asked if he had anything to say before sentence was pronounced, he simply bowed to the judge and said, “My Lord please temper justice with mercy. As you can see, I am an orphan!”… continued.

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!

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