By Amanda Uzor
Can we reasonably have a dream, like Martin Luther King of a world where people, whatever their race, religion, culture, abilities, or disabilities, whatever their education or economic situation, whatever their age or gender, can find a place and reveal their talents? Can we hope for a society whose metaphor is not a pyramid but a body, and where each of us is a vital part in the harmony and function of the whole?
I believe we can, because I believe that the aspiration for peace, communion, and universal love is greater and deeper in people than the need to win in the competition of life. Thanks to Jean Vanier who first says he believes that human kind can live in harmony with each other. That was optimism.
Following very closely what become of Nigeria in just few days I can’t but succumbed to fear what sparks this indecency and brutality in a country where every nearby shop is a church and inside every market and big cities there mosques. What's your religion?" It used to be such a simple question to answer. But now you might be "spiritual but not religious"- or raised in one faith but practicing another. Maybe you are a catholic but think of yourself more as an evangelical, or a seeker who is anti-religion - or born again. The old categories don't seem to work because the religious landscape has changed so much. Today we are hearing Islamic extremists springing up in different names with a mission of brutality, bombing and killing innocent human beings who are neither Christians nor Muslims in the name of religion. Or forcing everyone to become Muslims or abide by sharia law.
I know religion is a firm thought for purification of mind that brings out a better human. As such, it’s a personal thing. The Muslims say Islam is a religion of peace, but why is it that wherever there is bombing and killing of innocent people of other religions it is the Muslims that are claiming responsibility for one reason of the other? A religion of peace should reflect the image of GOD of love and peace.
The Christians are also coming up with so many names that divide them from the other groups and actually turning religion into a multi-billion industry, brain washing people with the message of giving, thereby enriching the so called preachers at the expense of the poor and those in search of miracle and prosperity. So while they are in the church searching for prosperity as well as getting drunk with music their homes are on fire, their minds are washed out from the main purpose of religion without any knowledge of what prosperity mean. To many so called Christians who patronize these end time preachers, prosperity means big house, big cars, big bank account or even fame. Little did they know that even when they acquire all of these but have no peace of mind they have not prospered. The question is how do we reinterpret religion to the Nigerian nation to bring it back to what the early Christians and Muslims saw in religion and accepted it?
It’s a pity that in the mist of this ugly religious unrest in Nigeria which would have been the best opportunity to take stock of loss of lives religion has cost Nigeria as a nation and deal with it once and for all, the government introduced the fuel subsidy removal.
With these entire thing put together I’m evaluating what religion has done for Nigeria. Can Nigeria ever remain one country with the Muslims being part of it and with continuous attacks and threats from BOKO HARAM? Observing what has unfolded in Nigeria, I doubt the possibility of this land called Nigeria to ever remain one country. I think it will be absolutely better to look into our inner selves and ask ourselves what religion means to us.
For me religion is a personal decision so I believe one can choose not to believe in anything as God. With personal understanding about life I see ethnicity, race or colour of skin as biological irrelevance; as well religion is irrelevant to me. I think the problem of Nigeria got to do with moral decadence. So where will we find the needed strengths, understanding and vision to shape this most anticipated new Nigeria as one of peace, equality and healing?
Where are the leaders of vision that can speak to Nigerians not just the narrow interests of each group? Can we find it in ourselves? Can we become the needed visionaries? I know what you are thinking now; hum too many questions at a time. Yes, it’s meant to help you learn about yourself, see how you compare with others, and have a little fun. I wish you a very happy new.
*Amanda Uzor is with MAFED Foundation International based in Amsterdam. She may be reached via: email@example.com