WHY ARE WE CRUDELY AMBITIOUS?
I see an ambition as the desire to change one's condition for the better. I do sincerely confuse it with having a set personal goal in life, and not being rich or powerful as I have just found out from a dictionary. I see it a good cause for one to be ambitious. Life without ambition is a dull one.
Take away any pains in the dying process, and I would rather die than a life without something I am waiting to achieve, or change about my life or that of my society. If it is possible to pass into the dead state like one falling asleep, I will be ready for it whenever my life ambitions are no more, less immediate family members and friends that I will miss. So to me, life without ambitions which accidentally reflect in their states' chosen slogans of heartbeat' and 'big heart.' I see an admirable 'big heart' in most Edos and Delta that I have come across.
But today, I am worried of the ambitions I see in Nigerians. I have discussed this with people around me. I have wondered why we can be very poor and over ambitions at the same time, in the midst of bad socio-economic conditions. I have seen a typical Nigerian waiting to make a 'personal kill' mostly untoward ways than to stand and confront the evil socio-political conditions our uninformed leaders have created. All of us are waiting, saying several midnight prayers, visiting the strongest spiritualists we can think of, just to lay our hand on a portion of the national cake.
I have asked them; the spiritual and the physical; which is easier to understand? How can we learn the spiritual things without first understanding the easier physical laws, in science with which the civilized part of the world are rolling out the inventions of our age. Is it easier to understand God than to confront the useless political conditions that are killing all of us? In our bookshops, only bibles are on sale; in every hand, in every home is a bible. No other books; no other education, no personal development. My friends that left universities over a decade ago, has not read any book since leaving school. Even in school, they memorized only handouts and 'settled' to pass their exams. But today, they are all versed in the bible. They are all masters of the spiritual. Everyone is a prophet and a pastor' in the making, even when we all swim in lives of corruption and indisciple.
At the end of my Junior Secondary School, I read through all the lines of the Bible seeking to understand why premarital sex should be regarded as sin. That was my motivation then; I wanted to reconcile my sexual drive with the moral questions. I wanted to take rational decision. Today, I am amazed when I found out the insignificant number among our Christians that have tried to read through the Bible; yet we all sleep with bibles and see it as 'the all in all, in life'. We see it as the foundation and end of knowledge. A typical Nigerian Christian has not read any part of Koran or Hadiths, let alone thinking of the other uncountable religions in our world. Is it not worthwhile comparing what we believe and what others do?
I have seen ambition in British, Chinese and Indian youths. Theirs are in no way comparable to ours. I have compared the conditions in our country to theirs, and am convinced theirs are better than ours. An average Briton , Chinese or Indian have better chances of changing his life than a Nigerian. The socio-political conditions operating in their countries make it so. They are versed in knowledge beyond us. Ambitions can scarcely be achieved in a land without opportunities. Ambition when tied to being rich and powerful devoid of knowledge is crude and very destructive. It is a big evil that we must guard against.
We have heard of President Barrack Obama's essay of how he wants to be a President in his primary school days. Today, he was achieved his life ambition. In our clime, no one has achieved this. I can beat my heart and say, that no one that ever dreamt of ruling our nation has achieved it, counting from yesterday's Azikiwes, and Awolowo to today's Atikus and Utomis. Opportunists have rather ruled us till date which I strictly condemn as being responsible for our backwardness.
Opportunists are hardly prepared for the task set before them. Powerfully enshrined external and internal interests, who seek to control our government, ensures opportunists rule us to our nation's detriment. Capable visionaries that managed to get to the top, are quickly pushed aside, but this is not the topic of my discussion.
My interest is in a line by Alan Brown, in his book Modern Political Philosophy (theories of the just society) – '… inequalities may in themselves produce disunity (by producing resentments and envy, and an installing desires and aspirations impossible to achieve)..'
It opened my mind to the realities for our ambitiousness. The killing conditions in our land are creating unmanageable ambitions in all us. We must understand and control these for the good of our nation and our people. We must alert ourselves of the danger in our present state of existence. We should think of the implication of actions are persons and as nation, because uncontrolled ambitions without morals and a working law spell a pending
It is good to be ambitious, but we must work to earn it in a righteous way that will impact positively to our larger society. As Christians and Muslims, we owe this to God.
Aleke writes from Lagos