Headline: Lent : When Change Needs Further Change

Posted on: 2015-04-19

The nature of change

"Just because you don't take interest in politics does not mean politics won't take interest in you", so said Pericles, the Greek statesman and politician. We Nigerians all seem to understand that well enough. Right now one could say that one idea that dominates all political discourse and activities in Nigeria is "change". It is so good to note that the concept of change has become so ubiquitous and even attractive. Seemingly, everybody uses it. Change is of course, central to this period of Lent which, properly understood, is about transforming the self and the world. Despite all the anxiety that preceded these general elections, one could still afford some comic relief, occasionally hearing the ruling People's Democratic Party members (PDP) appropriate the "change" mantra of the main opposition party, the All People's Congress (APC), while insisting that they, not the opposition, are the "change" that Nigeria really needs. In truth none of the parties was being original in this matter for, indeed, none can claim the copyright of change. Change belongs firmly to God and in all nature. That explains why change is the only thing that is constant and "unchanging". Everything else changes, except of course, the Author of change, God himself.  

Centering the call for change

Nigerians right now are in the top gear process for change but it is quite difficult to decipher the genuineness of that desired change. Some people have still not even thought deeply about it. John Cardinal Onayekan, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, took a shot at the issue during the 2015 Cathedraticum celebration last week at St. John Catholic Church, Abuja. He confirmed that Nigerians are generally disenchanted with the state of affairs in their country, decried the widespread fear and anxiety pervading the country and assured everyone that God will intervene to usher in a state of renewal. His words thereafter then, with a touch of humor, defined his own idea of the desired change: "My position is that there has to be change. I am not talking about change from bus conductors. I don't care who wins, whether it is PDP or APC, but whoever wins, there has to be (true) change because people are not happy with what is happening; people are hungry, people are suffering".

When change needs changing

Cardinal Onayekan is right in my view. Much of the change in demand in Nigeria is unfortunately about material and physical needs. These, of course, are necessary but not sufficient. Nigerians want a change from poverty to prosperity, from scarcity to abundance and from devastation to restoration. This is why most people  cry for a change in government.  That kind of change however may not still translate into  better life for all. Nigerian politics is regrettably replete with players with scant integrity, who change their position too many times on too many issues, not because they see the light but because they feel the heat, of failure, of disappointment, of prosecution or even of imprisonment. That makes the kind of change they offer suspect. We therefore need to return to basics for us to realize how we have messed up not just our economy and sociology but our morality and spirituality as well. The change we now desire therefore needs further change, namely an entire value- system-change, to return us to the path of true prosperity, progress, harmony and peace.

I am the Lord your God

Who then can best change the sort of all human beings or of the creation which sustains them if not the Creator God who put them together in the first instance? God once gave the tool for genuine change against all human misdemeanor, misrule and mismanagement which we all denounce so much today. The tool consists in what has been known for all time as "The Ten Commandments", God's code of conduct. Older, simpler and superior to all modern, human codes of conduct and constitutions, God's code of conduct has been largely ignored by man to his own detriment. In these most intriguing times there can be no harm in remembering and paying attention to these clear unambiguous tenets: I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the house of slavery, do not have other gods before me; Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy; Honor your father and your mother that you may live long in the land that Yahweh has given you; Do not kill; Do not commit adultery; Do not steal; Do not give false witness against your neighbor; Do not cover your neighbor's house; Do not covet your neighbor's wife or his servant. (Ex 20:1-17).

Seeking the Lord when he is near

Leo Tolstoy the Russian writer once wrote : "Everybody thinks of changing humanity". How many people think seriously of changing...themselves? It is very clear that Nigeria has a problem with lack of adherence to what we believe. In this sense we are all in the class of politicians who harbor little intention of putting into practice what they declare. How I wish we could get all Christians in Nigeria to actually follow God's Ten Commandments, living in peace with God, with all and everyone. That, by simple logic, would halve the problem of Nigeria as a country for problems are created not by rocks and grass but by people. And perhaps in that way, we could persuade our brothers and sisters of other faiths to also practice what they profess. Then and then, what a beautiful country we would all have here! Now we can all ask two simple questions: "If not now, then, when? If not us then, who?