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Take kindly the counsel of age… – Part 2

By George Ehusani
03 November 2021   |   3:30 am
Dr. Dokpesi, as you mark 70 years today, I urge you to make a deliberate choice to begin to slow down now and consciously embark on the rather humbling but nevertheless prudential process of disengagement from a life devoted to achieving more...

Dr. Dokpesi, as you mark 70 years today, I urge you to make a deliberate choice to begin to slow down now and consciously embark on the rather humbling but nevertheless prudential process of disengagement from a life devoted to achieving more, towards a new life devoted to simply being more. As we celebrate once again in thanksgiving today your very colourful ride through life, and your incredible achievements, I will repeat my admonition to you ten years ago, which I don’t think you acted upon, namely: to slow down and make sufficient time for wholesome reflection on the fundamental question of life’s ultimate meaning and purpose, and for pondering over the perplexing reality or the distressful mystery of death – the death that stares each one of us in the face, and which often makes nonsense of much of our human ambitions and preoccupations as well as our attachments and achievements.

True, my dear friends, as we all get older, we must begin to cultivate more seriously than ever before in our lives what the spiritual masters call “the habits of the heart.” We must each strive to leave behind a legacy of purposeful existence in a world otherwise plagued by vanity and vain-glory, and widespread debauchery and depravity. The younger generation in our society and across the world, who today are often groping in the dark or are dazed and dazzled by an overwhelmingly hedonistic and licentious culture, need elders, patriarchs and matriarchs, and yes, they need old people, who have learnt powerful lessons about life on account of the twists and turns, and the traumas and tragedies that they have been through in the course of their lives. Our young people in Nigeria, many of who today are losing their souls to debauchery and depravity – graduating from what we used to know as Yahoo-Yahoo to what they now call Yahoo+, desecrating their bodies with ever more nauseating and sodomistic (sexual) abuses; and enlisting themselves into criminal gangs and violent cults that are vestiges of a bygone primitive, pagan era of superstition and occultism, all because in their eyes, the making of money (and more and more money), is the ultimate good for which every other human and spiritual value could be sacrificed or dispensed with. We need experienced old people in their 60s, 70s and 80s to help our young people answer the most profound question of life’s ultimate meaning and purpose which they have to grapple with daily.

In the face of the tragedies of life, and especially what our successive generation of rogue leaders have made of this country, where life is Hobbesian – nasty, brutish, and short, Nigeria needs a “remnant few” among our elders who have been sufficiently schooled by both the positive and negative experiences of their lives, and who have learnt some of the profound truths of our human existence, so they can now become teachers, inspirers and mentors of the younger generation in a life of meaning and purpose.

The challenge of re-engineering society and effecting a paradigm shift in our social orientation and value prioritization lies squarely on all of us who are sufficiently dissatisfied with the quality of existence of most people in our society today. I am happy that many of you here today are involved in the mass media, and I want to remind you that you have a set of powerful instruments in your hands – to nurture a wholesome society, or to destroy it, to promote the dignity of the individual human person, the sanctity of the family, and utmost respect for the common good and the human community, towards purposeful existence, or otherwise to use the same powerful instruments of the print and electronic media to disseminate vanity and vain-glory, rabid materialism and crass-individualism, along with blind and unmitigated sensualism and on-screen violence, which will serve only to accelerate the process of societal decay and human degeneration.

I challenge you all to take responsibility for the future, and use your time and resources, your skills and talents, your rich knowledge and privileged exposures, your successes and achievements, but also your own record of failures and disappointment – from which hopefully you have learnt good lessons, to disseminate those values and principles and promote those norms and habits that will make for meaningful existence of future generations of our people. It is in this way that you will live your lives purposefully, that you will age gracefully, and that at the end you will have the honour of exiting this world as it were gallantly. May God forbid that any of us should finish our sojourn here badly and exit this world untidily. Amen.

Finally, for Chief Dokpesi and for all the friends gathered here, I pray: As we grow older each day, may we grow wiser. As we grow older each day, may the good Lord show more of his face to us. As we grow older each day, may the Lord help us to slow down and teach us the habits of the heart. As we grow older each day, may we soon come to appreciate that there is more to life than increasing speed, and that the race is not always to the swift. As we grow older each day, may we come to discover that life is not a competition, but a celebration. As we grow older each day, may the Lord inspire us to send our roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values. As we grow older each day, may we be prepared to do the much required detachment and the necessary disengagement here below, which will mark the start of that great destiny that lies in Eternity. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Ehusani, executive director, Lux Terra Leadership Foundation delivered this Homily on the occasion of the 70th birthday celebration of Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, October 25, 2021.