Death of truth … Naira devaluation as metaphor
“O you who believe…be among the truthful.” (Quran 9:19)
BUT our knowledge of what is the truth and our preparedness to do and say it does not often mean we shall always find ourselves among lovers of truth. Perhaps this explains why those who say the true often become villains while those who stand beside and behind falsehood are treated as heroes and heroines.
In a village headed by men and women who depend more on luck to survive and succeed than on personal competence, to say the truth is to lose power and position, to see and do evil is to keep your position in the highest quarters of governance. But we all know that truth has no other name except truth; it is beyond the imaginary barriers that separate the north from the south. In other words brethren, reference to truth in this sermon is to a universal virtue which should be the cornerstone of the Muslim’s character, the springboard of his deeds, the benchmark for her conduct. Brethren, I refer to truth in the Orwellian manner and that is that ‘in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”.
How else can this be manifested other than when the bearer of the truth is positioned in the palace of the ‘king’ and in the midst of bootlickers and vainglorious personages. The above finds exemplification in the circumstance of the teacher of our teachers who was asked to give a sermon in the presence of the Village-head in the village square the other day.
He therefore chose to say the truth, to remind the village head of the pains in the shoes of the ordinary masses, to remind the chief of empty pots in the furnaces, to remind the village head of children in the city who still go to schools barefooted, to remind the village head that though the city centre now appears radiant and dandy, the inner of the peoples’ hearts is full of cobwebs of hunger, frustration and loss hopes. Brethren, the teacher of our teachers chose to remind the village head that even though city-renewal is noble and redoubtable it is nonetheless inferior to the development of the mind of the generations who would either destroy the city or improve on it.
Brethren, what an error saying the truth could be in the presence of truth-haters. The teacher of our teachers was consequently interjected and harangued. Those whose future he was fighting for camped behind the king. They chorused in disapproval of the truth he was saying. Our teacher’s circumstance then reminded me of the statement of Author Schopenhauer. He it was who said “all truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third it is accepted as being self-evident.”
Though the truth of the truth of the message could not be controverted neither by the king nor the assemblage of hungry-looking, political jobbers who camped behind him, the message they sought to convey was that now is not the season for truth. There are some truths that cannot be told no matter how “truthful” they are. Brethren, when the story of the encounter of our teacher with the politicians was told to me, I became angry. Soon my anger disappeared only to be replaced by empathy. Again, my empathy soon gave way to pity.
I pitied the village head who gloried in the momentous emptiness of public office. I pitied the assemblage of luckless and jobless compatriots of mine who continue to stake their fortune and future at the backyard of the politicians. Their circumstance is like that of the sheep, which seeks comfort from and companionship of the lion. The event I mention above is actually picaresque of the current state of anomie in which Nigeria as a nation is steeped. It reminds me of the ascendancy of falsehood in state governance.
It awakens me to the fact that today the moral currency of this nation has become as invalid as its national security, the national security has become as insuperable as the oddities of corruption which has become the most lucrative business in corridors of power. Brethren, contrary to Mahatma Gandhi’s suggestion that “an error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it”, mediocrity in governance and lack of performance, which is a form of error, has gravely become the truth in this country not only because of “multiplied propagation” but also as a result of the insistence of the underperformers and mediocres not to better their own records.
Again, contrary to Gandhi, dear brethren, error has become so pervasive in this country today such that any claim to the truth now verges on felony. Brethren, while pitying the political jobbers who camped behind the village head and sang his praise, I realized I actually needed to pity myself more for choosing (was it really my choice?) this backwater for the interment of my umbilical cord. Why has truthfulness become an orphan in this village? Why has it become an anathema? Ibn Qayyim’s perspective is as solemn and profound as usual.
He says: “Truthfulness is the greatest of all stations in life, from it springs all the various stations of those traversing their path to the Almighty; and its abandonment leads to perdition. Through it the hypocrite is distinguished from the believer and the inhabitant of Paradise from the denizens of Hell. Truth is the sword of the Almighty on earth: it is not placed on anything except that it cuts it; it does not face falsehood expect that it hunts it and vanquishes it; whoever fights with it will not be defeated; and whoever speaks it, his word will be made supreme over his opponent. It is the very essence of deeds and the well spring of spiritual states…”
Brethren what more can I say? As for ways and means by which this virtue of truthfulness can be attained in our daily lives, our leader has this to say: “Guarantee for me six things and I will guarantee Paradise for you: say the truth when you speak, fulfill your promises, be faithful when you are trusted, safeguard your private parts, lower your gaze, and withhold your hands (from harming others).” Brethren, life and living have taught it to me that to live in wonderland does not mean one can produce wonders.
History has also taught me that it is not all those who lived with Prophet Isa (Jesus Christ a.s) who received salvation; it is not all those who heard the message of Islam who chose to worship the Almighty, the Unseen fashioner of the world. Brethren, when the door of paradise is opened ajar for all enter – and it is opened each time the sun rises in the horizon- it is sobering for one to discover that some among us still prefer to move on to the next door even if the latter leads to hell. Thus, the other day the Naira was devalued, I told myself the moral currency in this village had long been devalued. (08122465111 for texts only)
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