HOW LIFE WORKS

< we always never know >

Last night was the mother of all match nights. I didn’t quite think one could be “shattered” by joy until I read Sammie’s rather hilarious post this morning – of a Liverpool fan who inquired of him how to convince a non-football fan boss that he won’t make work for the “shattering” from last night. No doubt, football match outcomes are highly unpredictable, so much that the multibillion dollar betting industry was built on it, last night’s super-humiliating Liverpool-Barcelona outing was somewhat different for having the ‘Anfielders’ come back from an embarrassing 3-nil at Camp Nou. More so, the arguable god of soccer, Lionel Messi, who was visibly worshipped at the last meeting for “that” free-kick, lost his magic.

While the rest of the football world busied with the fanfare that goes with such a night as last night, I took to reflecting on how much the events of last night simulated how life actually works, to the effect that we just never know.

1. When Messi and Suarez sat side by side having fun for themselves as they jetted from Spain to the UK, did they have the faintest idea what was coming last night?

2. When Ernesto Valverde and his men were working out the squad to be fielded against the Reds, did they even imagine that it was gonna come any close to what played out last night?

3. When Klopp was making those game-changing substitutions, was he hell sure it was gonna deliver big as we saw last night?

4. When Mo Salah stood before his wardrobe to pick a shirt in which he’d watch the match from the bench, and when he did decide for the one that had “Never Give Up,” was he sure the inscription on his shirt was gonna make any difference?

>>> Frankly, Liverpool didn’t know they were gonna win, and Barcelona didn’t know they were gonna win. Just like you and I know next to nothing that’d become of us in the seconds, minutes, hours, days and years ahead. We just never know, and that’s called “life.”

Our best bet is to just try. To always show up with our A-game, putting our best foot forward. To never give up – no matter how bad it seems, as it’s never too bad.

Your No.1 fan,
Cornel

THE POLITICS OF MENTAL HEALTH

< how we may all be mentally challenged, and why you should check yourself >

Just three stories. And my point.

1. Growing up in the Ogoja area of Cross River, I once witnessed a young man – in the neighborhood of the thirties – leave his sister with multiple and really deep cuts. He was just a second away from stabbing her to death when her survival instinct kicked in. The knife was blazing sharp. The cuts were really deep. And no one in the future would believe her blood brother did that to her. Now, the young man in question was a really great guy, but he literally goes ‘mad’ whenever his anger button was pushed. Another day it was a gun against someone who’d insulted him. Yet another day it was a duel with a policeman. And on a normal day he’s a perfect gentleman.

I tell you most solemnly, it’s only a matter of politics that he wasn’t labelled ‘mad.’

2. Sometime in 2015, I learnt of a certain Mia. True life story. Beautiful lady. Terrific chorister; the type with whom the average guy would wish to spend the rest of his life being alive. Asked why he didn’t follow through on his plan to marry her, her erstwhile fiancĂ© retorted that he simply had to pick between dying in her arms and staying alive. He confessed that she literally turns into a monster in the “other room.” She comes at him like only a tiger would, and never seems to get enough of it. For the record, it’s not just the question of high libido here; it’s about being a sex maniac. And if you never get to make it to the “other room” with her, then you’d never know she’s capable of riding a man to an early grave.

3. Recently, I went visiting some friends, and there met a young man who was described to me moments later as “weird to an uncommon degree.” Everything seems to be wrong with him all at once. And as they narrated more of their experiences with him, I just knew it was it. Everything perfectly fit into the bipolar box. But they’d taught he was merely being frustrated by the happenstances around him; little did they know he was simply being his bipolar self.

******

Following the suicide saga, they’ve been loads and lots of conversations around mental health. Some informed. Others uninformed. And some others half-truths. I’m not here to further that conversation but to draw our attention to the fact that it’s only a matter of politics that the people featured in the above stories are thought to be normal – and not forced to seek urgent help. We must change the way we view madness, our impressions about psychotherapy and psychiatry; we should embrace them as fitting remedies for diseases of the mind, which we all have been inflicted with albeit in varying degrees.

And so, if we all look into ourselves, we may as well find that we could all be mentally challenged in some respect – and should as much go sourcing for help.

My point: Instead of busying ourselves in search of those who need mental health support, we should also look inwards to see how we may be in dare need of it ourselves.

Your No.1 fan,
Cornel

PS. The second story is rated 18. If you’re less than 18 and you’ve already read it, now go back and unread it.

‘LEAVE AM FOR GOD’

< why we should trouble no one about their religion >

Whenever people have conversations like the one upon which I’ve set out, those who care about them fear for them. They fear that they’ve lost faith. And if they end up with the sort of conclusion I’d be winding up with, they fear all the more. They fear that God punishes those who pitch themselves against the faith. Therefore, I like to start by allaying them, my crew, of those fears. Guys, there’s no cause for alarm; “What the father has taught me is what I preach.” Did you laugh? You’re wrong if you didn’t.

The encounter between a shopkeeper and a policeman I chanced upon last night really got me thinking. And cracking. Long story short. The Muslim shopkeeper says to the policeman, “By the grace of God, one day you will become a Muslim.” The obviously Christian policeman forcibly retorts, “God forbid! That’s the last thing I’d do.” Me? I had a really good laugh for myself. The catch for me was that both men made recourse to the same God in their mutual hate for each other’s religion. May I humbly request you don’t bother yourself trying to convince me that it’s not the same God? Yea, it’s not necessary. Because I’m unto a different point altogether.

I really think – and this is my own thinking ooo – that we got it wrong when we decided to start helping God do his job; when some human beings transformed themselves into God’s own secretaries, and starting knowing exactly what’s on God’s mind: how exactly he wants things to be done, where exactly he wants all of us to be, who will glory in heaven and who will burn in hell, which religion is the way and which church is true. And, trust me, these are matters of opinion, and we’re in the religious mess we’re in right now because nobody can be wrong in matters of opinion. It’s even a bigger problem when people by themselves convert their opinions into truth claims.

My opinion on this matter has ways been that God should sort himself out. If he didn’t do anything about the rise of Islam, does that not already say he’s fine with it? Unless you think he needed help. Where was he when his priest Martin Luther led the Protestant revolution? For me, not to have stopped him means he’s fine with it. Why hasn’t he shutdown the Catholic Church. Methinks he’s still fine with having us around. Why can’t we just trust that God knows what he’s doing, that he’s already figured out a way to sort these things out on the last day.

Jesus was gentleman enough in his formula for evangelism: “Preach to only those who make you welcome. And if they don’t, leave.” The most they could react was shake off the dust from their feet – not insist. Let’s be realistic, with the number of different religions in existence and growing number of Christian churches with some adopting a ‘bokoharamic’ evangelism method, do you think any human being can make everything one again? Was it ever one at any time?

I think God should sort this one out for himself; “this matter don pass our level.” I don’t see him needing help here. Unless you think otherwise. For me, whatever you think is still fine.

Your No.1 fan,
Cornel

PS. If you’re not God, don’t come and be quarreling with me ooo.

THE HUMAN SUBSTANCE

< why “accident-based” shaming is plain stupidity >

The word “accident” sitting up there isn’t the one you’d find in a conventional dictionary. It doesn’t mean “happening by chance, unintentionally, or unexpectedly.” The word seats on that subtitle with the meaning it bears in Aristotle’s ontology, “an attribute that does not affect the essence of a subject.” And “essence” here would be exemplified by the “chairness” in every chair whether they be made of wood, plastic, concrete, whatever. This is the lowest I could go; so sorry if you didn’t quite get it. Let’s move on.

Two inspiring documents I came across in the course of fulfilling the requirements of “Philosophy of Human Rights” during my sophomore year at university were the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Declaration of Independence. It is stated in both documents, and eloquently so, that “all humans” are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights. From them, and my teacher Dr. Ani, I learnt that the passport to accessing the human rights and its attendant equality and dignity is the human essence – never the accidents!

I intend to take this conversation a bit further, to the effect that it is plain stupid to rate, treat, judge, or shame people based on anything outside of the human essence. Markedly, the human essence is whatever you see in any animal that makes you recognize it as a human being, whether they be tall or short, black or white, whole, infirmed or challenged, Nigerian or Icelander. lol!

It’s being a matter of serious concern for me that we’re increasingly basing our assessment of people, and shaming them, on the grounds of the Aristotelian accidents. Nine of them: quality, quantity, relation, place, time, position, state, action, and affection. Add ‘substance’ to that list and you’ve Aristotle’s Categories; ten of them.

Look up the stats and find that the number of women going under the knife is on an alarming increase; it has come to stay that women are shamed for not having full bosoms and well-rounded backsides. There are even crazier trends that I’ve held myself back from mentioning. It’s such a shame that we pretend to forget that no human being came in a preferred condition. Show me who chose to be short, who preferred to be poor, who went for less rather than more. You tell me, what did the beauty queens do differently to deserve their looks? The most they do is protect what they already have, what they were ‘given.’ Why would some women literally sniff the manhood off their men for not being gorgeously endowed? Why not simply research a friendlier position. [This very one is not my handwriting]

What about height? There’s more than one way to be short, and tall parents is no guarantee. There’s the place of recessive genes, nutriment, and hormones; none of which is not the short man’s fault. lol! And so, to genuinely shame a person for being brief in height is one way to be stupid. lol! What about my gateman, Abdulahi? He’s Nigerien, knows no word of English, generously smiles at everyone, wears me out with asking for alms. lol! What did Abdulahi do to deserve his social status? Sincerely, one way to measure my level of stupidity is to observe how I treat him. And I’m lucky to have known better.

We should think twice before we shame people. Having thought twice, we’d realize that shaming people, particularly on “accidentally” grounds, is a show of stupidity.

Your No.1 fan,
Cornel

PS. The choice of “stupid” is intentional. I needed the message to sting whoever is guilty as charged. I didn’t mean to be rude.