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LENTEN REFLECTION ON OUR ROLES AS PARENTS (1)

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Lenten reflectionEvery year the church from her inception maps out about 40 days to prepare her children for a proper observance of the Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection.  This is the church’s Lenten season.  It is the time of the year when we intensify our prayer, penance and help to others.  In observing the discipline of lent, it is pertinent that we make it holy by certain degree of self-abnegation and mortification.  As parents, let us use this year’s Lenten observance to reflect on how the remissness of our primary duty in the home has affected negatively the behaviour of our children/youths in the society.

To the best of my knowledge the origin of juvenile crime could be traced to the home/family.  In the society today, there is high level of broken homes manifested in divorce, separation, spousal cold war, unwholesome dissertation of the home by either of the spouses, sexual promiscuity, and its concomitant illegitimacy.  The mandatory godly injunction to parents/guardians to “Train up a child while he is young, when he grows up, he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6) has been grossly flouted and indeed treated with blame-worthy levity by most of us parents.  The direct upshot of this ignominious parental recalcitrance is the unbridled rate of juvenile crimes in the society.

Today, juvenile crimes in our society are legion and among others include: kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, rape, Boko “Haramism”, prostitution, examination malpractice and the like.  These crimes are perpetrated by youths between 20 and 25 years of age.  Youths who, under normal circumstances, should be kept under strict parental surveillance.  The youths responsible for these antisocial and peace-eroding activities in the society are the children of some of us parents, who rashly abdicated their God-given roles in the home.

What a child should be in life is prepared for him in the home by his parents and this is done during his impressionable age.  From the home a child is given to appreciate the moral and spiritual values of life; the ability to understand and respect the rights of other people; the need to regard and respect constituted authority and the joy of expressing love for others.  If we parents, who should at home be teaching excathedra abinitio, execute our primary duties judiciously and at the nick of time (tender age), these juvenile crimes in the society will be minimal, if not completely checked.  That these youth have incorrigibly blossomed out of parental-cum-societal control with no sense of moral values, no respect for constituted authority and more seriously, no sense of security and regard for life and properties of others is a graphic evidence of the remissness in our primary duty of training a child from infancy.

The most serious cause of juvenile crime or child’s delinquency is lack of proper monitoring of the child’s all-round development and character in the home by his parents.  These days we have little or no time to watch in the home the gradual mental, psychological and physiological growth of our children.  Most of us do not even think it is our primary duty at home to play our didactic and directional roles towards our children.  To most of us, it is enough care given to our children if we send them to school, feed and clothe them.  Hence, ignorantly, some of us shift the onus of this very critical and heavy responsibility to our babysitters, mates or maids who are usually not spiritually and morally competent enough to substitute for us and whose authority over our children is unfortunately limited by nature.  This unhealthy abdication of our primordial duty as parents is nemesically dangerous.

In the past, training  a child used to be collectively synergic.  One common adage then and even now says ‘if you see a fowl using its legs to scatter faeces, chase it away because nobody knows who will eat its legs’.  This adage corroborates the collectiveness in the training of a child in the days of yore.  It was in retrospect very unthinkable to see a child curse his/her parents or guardian, let alone throw a stone at or beat him/her and was allowed by neighbors or relations to go scot free.  Such a child was taught the lesson of his life that day and even the case reported to the school when indeed school was school for more corrective measures.   It is disheartening that in our present society such a filial anomalous exhibition has become a spectacle worthy of commendation by some spectators.  The reason for this is not far fetched; some parents pugnaciously confront any person trying to correct their stubborn and heady child even under the nose of the erring child, thus encouraging in him more impetus and spirit of recalcitrance.

Dear parents, since a pigheaded child cannot be collectively disciplined by us, the teachers in the school, relations and neighbors around us as it was done in the past, how can we expect sanity in the society?  Such expectation is no doubt hallucinatory.  This abysmal failure of us parents to discipline a child for indecent and inhuman behavior and to teach him decorous morality in the home indeed contributes majorly to juvenile crime in the society.  It is in the home that children are taught ethical standard by their parents through parental exemplary behavior and precepts.  Children can be taught biblical morality where a family prays and reads the bible together.  Or they can unwittingly learn immorality from what plays out around them at home especially via watching uncensored film/movies which most often are borrowed and played when we are out hunting for naira.  In fact all the values of a child are developed in the home, either his natal home or his neighbors or friends home.

I still strongly feel that most of us parents should own a relatively large chunk of the blame for the juvenile crimes in the society.  In addition to some of us not giving them the real teaching we owe them at home by our exemplary life, most of us unwittingly teach and encourage them to engage in immoral and unethical behavior in the society by what we do before them.  A parent is a parent no matter where you are and a child is a child anywhere he is – in the market place in your business area, in the farm, in your workshop, in your office, in the church, at home – you remain a parent and he remains a child.  On this premise therefore, we should sincerely play the role of parents we are to any child at all who we have responsibility and the privilege to correct, train, teach, direct or help in any way.

The youths are blamed for almost all the evils in the society today.  Is there any how or way we parents have hands in what they do or connive at or encourage them in what they are doing?  Take this citation as one in a thousand: as a catechist, a man brought a report to me against his children and asked me to call and admonish them.  I reasoned we do it eyeball to eyeball with them to which he obliged.  During the meeting, this man fumed and raked over his children’s behavior with authority as the father, deprecating every act of their immoral life under his nose.  His children’s reaction gave me Goosebumps and rendered me wordless.  When the first son got up, I taught he was going to defend his innocence, but far from it.  Rather he said “Sir KBC, all my father said about me is true, but ask him where I learnt these things he said I do.  My father has two women friends in this village to whom he sends a basket of cassava and a head of plantain each every four market day.  As I was not balanced to hear more of the man’s seemingly “covered” movement in the village due to charged atmosphere, I ended the meeting unceremoniously.  From this story you can see that our children learn from the seat of their pants.

We always blame our children for examination malpractice in schools and colleges, forgetting that it takes two to tango.  Who is responsible for leakage of examination question papers in schools and colleges, the children or the parents entrusted with custody of exam question papers?  Who are the supervisors of all the external examinations in schools and colleges the children or the parents?  Who collects money from the school children during these exams and after connive at their exam fraud?  In buying question papers and even engaging mercenaries to write those exams for them, who sells the question papers and who sponsors these students?  In our institutions of higher learning, who demands for sorting in kind or in cash from the students?  Who demands money or adhoc submission of self from a job seeker before employment is offered him/her?

From another perspective, who encourages or sponsors a girl to abort an “unwanted” child in the name of saving ones face in the church?  Who mobilizes the youth to foment political rumpus, destroy lives, properties and thus provoke insecurity in the society during political campaigns and election?  Most parents who mobilize these pig-ignorant and wooden-headed youths to engage in acts capable of turning the society topsy turvy hide their biological children within or outside the town or state and without scruples project the untutored children of the rank and file parents.

 

To be Contd

 

Mr. K.B.C. Ohiri
 Station Catechist,
St. Joseph’s Parish, Ifakala.

 

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The Data of Forgiveness

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The Universal Character of Salvation

The most important ingredient in today’s media economy is data. The amount of data available determines how much and how long we can work or play on the internet. Currently, many of the service providers offer unlimited data plans but we know that those “unlimited” plans are not always unlimited. Sometimes, your download speed can get slowed down when you cross a certain point. Today, however, Jesus gives us the divine model of an unlimited plan. It is the unlimited bundle of compassion and forgiveness which never gets slowed downed shut down for maintenance. The theme for this week is that we must learn to forgive without limits no matter the injury committed against us.

In Matthew’s Gospel, today’s teaching on unlimited forgiveness comes after Jesus had told his disciples the parable of the wandering sheep, so it is plausible that some would have wondered among themselves how many times a good shepherd should go after the same sheep if it keeps wandering away. In those days, people believed that forgiveness was limited to three times only – a fourth transgression was not to be forgiven. So, by asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Peter was probably aiming to increase the limit to seven times. And Jesus makes it clear that we are to forgive others, “not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22).That means we must dispense an unlimited data bundle of mercy.

In Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of a debt we could never pay. Sin is an offence against God and a direct rebellion against his authority and creation. The debt of 10,000 talents mentioned in today’s parable symbolizes the magnitude of the offence that sin causes in God’s eyes, but he is always willing to forgive without limits. However, we can easily cut ourselves off from God’s river of mercy when we refuse to forgive others. We end up restraining God’s mercy and putting ourselves under strict justice. To unfold his mercy without compromising his justice, God leaves each person free to choose between the two. If we insist on strict justice when we are offended, we bring God’s strict justice upon ourselves. But if we offer an unlimited bundle of mercy to others, we draw God’s unlimited data of forgiveness upon ourselves.

The secret to forming a forgiving heart lies in recognizing the evil of our sin and the immensity of God’s goodness in forgiving us. Until we see the ugliness of our ingratitude and selfishness, we will never appreciate the generosity of God’s forgiveness. Let us examine ourselves now to see how much forgiveness we are giving. Is there someone we still cannot forgive even after they have expressed sorrow for their actions? Have we judged someone too harshly because of something they said or did that we did not particularly like? How many times have we failed to help somebody because we are still dwelling on an injury that we suffered many years ago? How many times have we treated someone differently based on preconceived notions or stereotypes? These are some of the factors that shackle us like chains and that disrupt the unlimited data of divine grace in our lives. When we close ourselves off to people or dismiss them based on our preconceptions, mistaken judgments, and prejudices, not only do we make them suffer, we suffer as well.

But it does not have to be that way. Jesus came to free us from and the burden of sin and unhappiness. Forgiveness is like mercury, which runs away when it is held tightly in the hand but is preserved by keeping the palm open. When we lose forgiveness, we lose the ability to give and to receive love because love is the foundation of forgiveness. And since God is the foundation of love, whoever refuses to forgive automatically rejects the love of God. This is the essence of today’s parable and it is highlighted by the contrast between what was owed by each man. The wicked slave owed his master some 10000 talents. In gold terms, that is 350 tons and at today’s price, he owed his master USD21.8 billion. This was way more than King Solomon made in a year which was 666 talents of gold or USD1.45 billion in today’s value (cf. I Kings 10:14). So, this unforgiving servant owed his master what no individual could never payback. In contrast, his fellow servant owed him the equivalent of one talent of gold or USD2.1 million; so a man who was forgiven $21.8b could not let go of $2.1m, and his wickedness landed him in the hands of torturers.

Dear friends, forgiveness is an act of compassion which is expressed in the free choice to pardon one another’s shortcomings every day, and to also pardon ourselves for own mistakes Forgiveness transcends the fear of being wounded again; it is a deliberate act in imitation of the redemptive work of Jesus, the advocacy of the Holy Spirit, and the loving kindness of the Father. The whole point of today’s parable is that our Father in heaven will do the same to anyone who refuses to forgive others. Whoever refuses to forgive is doomed to a life of bitterness, and as the ugly trend continues, the person ends up building invisible walls of resentment around themselves, thereby blocking off not just one’s relationships with other people but with God as well. Forgiveness is not just an emotional expression or a sense of righteousness; it means being merciful not only when there is an explanation or apology, or a promise of amendment from the offender, but even when the offence is deliberate, and the offender is adamant. Forgiveness is a precious gift of grace, which does not depend on the worthiness of the receiver. Forgiveness is what we called to do, and the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us in that regard. Amen.

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Imo Deputy Governor’s giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture

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Imo Deputy Governor's giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture
By Joy Opara

The increasing cost of Agricultural products in Imo State in recent times has continued to be a major source of concern to the citizens of the state.

A critical appraisal of the development of Agriculture in this state reveals that successive governments had neglected this major sector of the economy, over three decades now, and this has adversely affected the revenue of government.

In line with the vision of the “shared prosperity” government of the Hope Uzodinma administration, the revolution of agriculture is among its cardinal programmes for which a high powered committee (on agricultural master plan for Imo State) has been set up.
For the purpose of resuscitating all moribund agricultural industries and facilities in the state, it is not surprising that this committee is headed by a world class Professor of Agriculture and Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku.

The need to diversify the economy cannot be over-emphasized. It is a well known fact that there is no better and more sustainable means of diversifying the economy than through agriculture. It would be recalled that after the inauguration of his committee, the deputy governor went into action, first by visiting all moribund agricultural facilities in the state, which included Adapalm in Ohaji/ Egbema LGA, Avutu Poultry farm in Avutu, Obowo LGA, Songhai farms, Okigwe road, Owerri, ADP farms in Nekede, Owerri West. Others are Acharaubo farms in Emekuku, Owerri North, Imo Rubber Plantation in Obiti, Ohaji/ Egbema, amongst others.
Prof. Njoku in one of his speeches during the tour described agriculture as the economic base of most countries of the world. Considering the dwindling oil revenue, he said it should be a source of worry to people of good conscience that the vision of our founding fathers to generate revenue, food security, economic advancement, industrialization, employment and eradication of poverty was destroyed by successive governments.
The Deputy Governor, who not only is acknowledged as one of the greatest professors of Animal Science, a renowned Agriculturist and former Vice Chancellor of a leading University of Agriculture, the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, made it clear that the present government led by Governor Hope Uzodinma is desirous to return agriculture to its former glory.

The Ikeduru-born technocrat and farmer per-excellence said that the 3R Mantra of this administration namely: Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery is a base for making the dream of Imo State as the food basket of the nation come true.

Noting that government is a continuum, the deputy governor promised that his committee will build upon what is already on ground by rehabilitating the ones that could be rehabilitated and bringing in new facilities where necessary to ensure that the passion of the governor towards agricultural revival is achieved.

Meanwhile, in most of the establishments visited by the committee, it was discovered that indigenes of the communities had badly encroached into the lands and converted them to personal use. Investigations by the committee revealed that agents of some past governments in the state connived with the communities to make it possible, for their personal aggrandizement.

The deputy governor, whose humility has become legendary pledged his total support to the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma whom he described as God sent to right all that were done wrong by the previous administrations in the state. He called on all to give this administration the needed support to rewrite the history of Imo State in gold, especially the agricultural sector.

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust
By Christian Uzoukwu

Some years ago, while as a kid, I fell out with my father due to an occasion of sheer disobedience and on that very day, I was given no food and was ultimately battered by hunger. Child abuse includes both acts of commission and omission on the part of parents, guardians as well as care-givers.

These acts have led to a lot of actual and threatened harm meted out on countless number of children. In 2014, the WHO made an estimate of 41,000 children (under the age of 15) that are victims of homicide and other related offences. This estimate, as expounded by this world body is grossly below the real figures due to the views of the society in relation to corporal punishment experienced by children. Girls are always most vulnerable to different forms of child abuse during unrests and in war-thorn territories.

Cases of child abuse can be established in some deadly human vices such as child trafficking, child labour, forced adoption as seen in the one-child policy prevalent in China. In the Asian country, women, by law are only allowed to have one child. Local governments would sometimes allow the woman to give birth and then they would take the baby away stating the mother violated the one child policy. Child traffickers, often paid by the government, would sell the children to orphanages that would arrange international adoptions worth tens of thousands of dollars, turning a profit for the government.

Other striking examples of child abuse are the various forms of violence against the girl-child which involves infanticide, sex-selective abortions, female genital mutilations (FGM), sexual initiation of virgins in some African cultures, breast ironing in some parts of Cameroon – involving the vicious use of hot stones and other tools to flatten the breast tissue of girls who have attained the age of puberty. As if those were not enough, female students are also subject to maltreatments in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is not to talk of recurring kidnapp of female students in some parts of Nigeria, as we saw in the case of Dapchi and Chibok schoolgirls.

Based on simple analysis, child abuse can be defined as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”.

This definition by WHO also falls in line with the definition propounded by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that child abuse are acts of commission. This commission includes “words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child”, and acts of omission (neglect), meaning “the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm.

In Nigeria, most cases of child abuse have become cumbersome due to the fact that these acts of abuses are regarded as mere punishments to unruly young ones and by so doing, should be justified and doesn’t call for any further discussion and/or scrutiny. According to various statistical studies and researches, child abuse is a vast societal cankerworm and has four profound tentacles viz:

Physical Abuse: this involves undue hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, burning, strangling, insertion of pepper into the eyes and pubic regions of children, maltreatments from house-help(s) and seniors at boarding/day schools, suffocating and forcing children to live in unwholesome conditions.

Sexual Abuse also includes persuading a minor into acts of sexual intercourse, exposure of the child’s private parts, production of child-related pornographic contents and actual sexual contacts with children.

Psychological Abuse of children can be seen in cases of excessive scolding, lack of proper attention that children should be receiving from their parents and guardians, destructive criticisms and destruction of a child’s personality.

Neglect of children can also lead to children dropping out of schools, begging/stealing for food and money, lack of proper medical care for minors and realities of children looking like ragamuffins.

Consequently, the causes of child abuse can be judiciously related to sex, age, personal history, societal norms, economic challenges, lack of Rights’ Protection Agencies, parents battling with traits of alcoholism and family size. These causative agents of child abuse can bring untold effects upon the society at large and these effects can be emotional, physical and psychological as the case may be, giving rise to individuals with dissociative lifestyles.

Furthermore, the treatment of individuals who have been malformed with respect to the abuses they experienced abinitio, can be a long process because it involves behavioral therapy and other forms of neoteric therapies. Treatments of psyche-related problems are not just a one-day process due to the long-lasting effects of abuses on various conscious mental activities. It is also noteworthy to point out that, prevention is always better than cure and holding fast to this true reality, entails that agencies who have the responsibility of protecting the rights of children must continue to do the needful which requires proper oversights of parent-child relationships.

To conclude this piece therefore, we must agree that untold hardships have been a great challenge for children especially in Africa and some parts of Asia. Children with long histories of abuses turn out to become societal misfits. To this end we encourage that: Children should be given a free platform to express themselves on many topical issues and issues relating to their existence.

Children should also be allowed to freely ask questions on any issue, no matter, how weird it seems to be.

Governments should make regulations outlawing societal norms and values that might amount to child abuses.

Corporal punishments by parents, guardians and care-givers should be discouraged at all levels, thereby making parents/guardians/care-givers who seem to be incorrigible, to face the full weight of justice enshrined in the law of the land.

Education system (both conventional and unconventional) in Nigeria should be able to train up young ones into becoming critical, analytical and evaluative individuals with a view of defending the vulnerable.

And again, since children are said to be leaders of tomorrow, it is pertinent to note that to secure their future, their present existence must be cherished and protected.

Christian Chimemerem Uzoukwu
08100029867 / 09025760804
Admin Critical Thinkers’ Forum.

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