The new normal and the culture of shamelessness
“If you have no shame, then do whatever you like”- Prophet Muhammad
Brethren, is it not true that the only sense of shame some of us have in this country today is the complete absence of sense of shame? The subject matter of shame and modesty is important in Islamic ethics and morality. In fact, a thousand four hundred and thirty-eight years ago, Prophet Muhammad had said: “Of that which reached the people from the sacraments given to earlier Prophets is this: If you feel no shame, then do whatever you wish.” In other words, the earliest communication from the Almighty, the Creator, to those enrobed with the garbs and accoutrement of Prophethood consisted of the necessity for them to abhor and detest all acts of shameful conducts; acts which would or could call to question their humanity, their moral rectitude and in fact everything of value for which they have been commissioned into Prophethood. This is why in Islamic culture and ethic he who would be Prophet would not be a liar, a thief, a smug, a scoundrel. To be a Prophet or the follower of a Prophet of the Almighty is to be modest in speech and conduct. Islam teaches this to us: that the very first thing a nation loses before perdition is sense of shame; whenever women throws modesty away their society is on the path towards liquidation.
Plumbing the above tradition further, I chanced upon the one below which only strengthens the tradition I quoted above. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said that the Prophet of the Almighty once said: “Be modest before the Almighty as is befitting of Him”. We said: “O Prophet! we do have shame, we are modest praise be to the Almighty.” He said: “Not that, rather having sense of shame before the Almighty as is befitting is to guard your head and what it contains, guard your stomach and what it takes in, to remember death and disintegration; whoever desires the hereafter leaves the ornamentations of this world. Whoever does all that has modesty and sense of shame before the Almighty as is befitting”.
An objective appraisal of our recent events in parts of our country compels the conclusion that our sense of modesty and shame as a people appears to have gone down the drain. Thus I say: “welcome to the age of the new normal: when children talk in the cradle, when the sun rises at dusk, and when children of no pedigree ascend the throne of authority. Welcome to the new normal: when the wise becomes a fool and vice-versa, when the honest is excoriated for his honesty, when the plunderer, the mugger, the purloiner and the criminal is celebrated with pomp and pageantry. Welcome to the new normal: when the morally perverted takes over the highest position in the world, when the philanderer becomes the custodian of national morality, when to be free from the gulag, from the prison is to be memorialized in the manner of the pilgrim on his return from Makkah or Jerusalem. Is it not true dear brethren, that the only sense of shame some of us have in this country today is the complete absence of sense of shame? I say welcome to the new normal.
Brethren, the last history class I attended during the early 1980s remains highly instructive and useful as premise upon which I could make sense of these times. Yoke that, if you will, with classics that did not make much sense to us, precocious as we were then, among the literary works that we had to read during those good old days. I remember how Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God positively impacted our horizon; I recall how Wole Soyinka’s Isara deposited in us relics of cultural artifacts some of which continue to serve as distillers of sense from nonsense for me today, particularly at this time and clime. For example, Wole Soyinka it is, who said: “you can take an Isara man out of Isara but you cannot take Isara out of the Isara man”.
Now each time I behold these negativities in my compatriots, each time some among my compatriots behave as if by compulsion they must engage in indignities I begin to wonder whether there is a mythical connection between the name Nigeria and its bearer such that the place of birth not only now structure the destiny of the birthed but equally structure and define its destination? Is shamelessness a Nigerian attribute the same way corruption, kidnapping, nepotism and tribal irredentism have become essentially “Nigerian” new normal? Why is it seemly to you to subject all of us to international opprobrium through your iniquitous celebration of infamy at a time we are all struggling to shed the toga and the robe of corruption with which we have been invested by international powers?
Brethren, “where does the fault lies”? Is it in our stars, in line with Shakespeare, that we are underlings? Is it in our stars that while some of us loath the sight of abyss and excreta, some among our compatriots would prefer to not only bask in it but even go steps further to make a meal out of it? Is it in our stars that some of us have become so enarmoured with shamelessness that no evil is too great to commit? Do we have to wait till that day, may such never meet us on this earth, when sons shall begin to copulate with their mothers in the open before we rediscover that genome in us that differentiates us from animals? When shall these oddities of celebrating infamy come to an end in this village?
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