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As October 1 draws near

MIND AND BODY with  Rev. Fr. Vincent E. Arisukwu


Many couples today have different reasons why they tell lies to each other. Some may see these reasons as justifiable while others do it merely to play smart. In the words of Thomas Pazhayampallil, “Modern society presents special challenges to the young. At every turn they are enticed by a concept of human freedom that is really slavery, by a relativism that robs them of the truth, and by a materialism and pragmatism that can rob them of their very souls” (Pazhayampallil, T., Words of Eternal Life, vol.1, p. 1003). Our concern here is primarily to expose the causes of insincerity in marriage. Whether they are justified by circumstances and occasions in which a particular couple finds himself/herself or not is not our major interest. The fact remains that insincerity in marriage is bad. These causes include.


Habit: Some persons form the habit of telling lies. They unconsciously tell lies even when they do not plan it. They belong to those described as chronic liars. I have had occasion to counsel some individuals in such crisis. They open up to say, “Father, I’m worried that I tell lies when I don’t want. I tell lies virtually concerning every little thing. And my friends have come to know me by such life”. One can say here that the evil spirit of insincerity has taken possession of such persons. And this evil spirit is what Christ condemned when he said of the devil, “When he lies he is speaking true to his nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Some married couples lie to each other and form it as a habit. They get to the point that telling the husband or wife lies does not matter any longer. They become habitual liars at every slight provocation. They tell lies to wriggle out of every situation. They can barely say the truth.


Bad Association: A few couples who were wonderful on getting married newly have become corrupt in the course of time. They become polluted and infected by the associations they keep. Unfortunately, some married men and women who are wild prowl about looking for others to destroy. Some women have learnt to be insincere with their husbands because of their contact with other women. Such dubious ladies teach them how to cheat on their men, how to tell lies about their movements, how to siphon their money through foul means and how to live beyond their means. They convince them that the only means to survive is by playing smart. They project instances of those who suffocate in marriage because of their unrewarding subservience. Most often, women who lack strong will power usually succumb to such pressures. Some men also develop the act of telling lies to their wives after a few corrupt contacts. The contacts come from various opportunities with wayward friends and colleagues at such places as beer parlors, clubs and sparingly places of work. Wonderful and sincere couples have degenerated as a result of bad contacts.


Pressure: The extended family system in Igbo land has led many couples into crisis. This family structure which goes beyond one’s immediate siblings to encompass uncle’s children’s children sometimes pile pressure on the marriage institution. For example, some women have carried their family ties to their matrimonial homes. They struggle to satisfy the demands of some of the family members that continue to bog them with their needs. Most times, they are put in tight corners in the bid to meet up with some of those demands. They die in silence. Some of them resort to fabricating lies for their husbands especially in cases where they lack the required resources to meet up with the demands of their family members. They tell their husbands different stories in order to generate money to assist their loved ones. Some pressures also arise from illicit relationships whereby some men and women in marriage find themselves constantly saddled with the demands of their sexual partners outside their matrimonial homes. They struggle to meet up with certain demands which become strange to their responsibilities in the home. For the man here, the tendency is to become unnecessarily economical in the house with lame excuses of lack of funds for the wife. On the part of the woman who may not have enough on her own to spare, the danger becomes to either compromise what she receives from the man for family upkeep or to begin to pilfer to make up for her commitment. Both cases can give rise to insincerity in marriage.


Fear: It has been discovered that some couples are strange bed fellows in their homes. They are husband and wife but lack the required decorum for the married life. The tough and rigid attitude of some men makes their wives to fear them. They love to be described as “hard men” especially with regard to their homes. They lack the necessary fun and fondness that oils marriage. They provide virtually everything that the home needs except the affection that really flavours those responsibilities. They become mere bosses to their wives. They derive joy ordering and commanding the women like maids in the house. This makes such wives to present cases to them also like employees presenting budgets to their Ogas in the office. And since such relationships operate more on the official level, such wives hold back a lot of secrets from them. Sometimes, they even cook up lies to soothe them and tell them only those things that won’t warrant scolding and bullying. Such women simply pretend before their husbands. They smile well when the man of the house is not around. They derive greater joy in the company of others. They enjoy talking with friends who provide outlets for them. They feel freer with others than with their husbands. Such women usually do not tell their husbands the truth because of the fear of the consequences. They tell them what they wish to hear.


Revenge: Some couples have been forced into being insincere with their partners for reasons of vengeance. I once met a woman who told me that the husband does not tell her the truth. She narrated how all efforts and complaints to make the man change hit the rocks. She maintained that one person cannot be suffering for another who wasn’t ready to change. According to her, the best thing was to join him in playing game. She thus resorted to telling lies and said they would know who would lose in the course of time. Insincerity could therefore beget insincerity in marriage if not properly addressed.


Insecurity: Many marriages today lack the desired security which couples need from one another. For one reason or the other, some men find it difficult to confide in the wives and vice versa. When such confidence is lacking in marriage, it becomes difficult for couples to open up to their partners. Married couples are supposed to be confidants to each other. They are supposed to give information and secrets which others do not know about themselves to their marriage companions. But for reasons of fear, they feel insecure in the hands of their husbands/wives. A wife whose husband cannot protect if she enters into trouble withholds information from him so also a man who feels insecure in the hands of the wife. Some women have complained of having been cajoled by brothers or sisters in law with some secrets they shared only with their husbands. They feel a sense of betrayal and loss of confidence in the man who should be their refuge. They feel highly insecure and decide not to open up to their husbands any more.  This is one of the causes of insincerity in marriage.


Secularization of the Soul: When a soul is dry, it can do anything to survive. This is one great harm that the human person can do to his soul; to deprive it of the spiritual nourishment it deserves. When a soul is starved of its spiritual essence, it grows wild. Such a person may develop lax conscience, hence sees no evil in telling lies to the partner. Some married men pursue business with their whole life and give less attention to their spiritual life and the proper upbringing of their family. They become completely subsumed in their business to the extent that the only language they hear and speak is that of profit and loss. Some men run their businesses at the expense of their spiritual life. They never have contacts that talk about God or spiritual matters. Some women also become so mundane that they no longer worry about the spirit. Such persons unconsciously threaten their moral base as every of their judgment anchors on convention. Their interest is in money and so they do anything to make sure they acquire it including creating false pictures before their partners. St. Paul says, “For there are so many people of whom I have often warned you, and now I warn you again with tears in my eyes, who behave like the enemies of Christ’s cross. They are destined to be lost; their god is the stomach; they glory in what they should think shameful since their minds are set on earthly things” (Phil. 3: 19-20). Insincerity can make a person glory in things that ordinarily should be shameful.



The Data of Forgiveness



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



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



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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