In the bachelorhood or spinsterhood, the question every young man or woman usually asks before embarking on any venture is, “What will happen to me if…? “Or sometimes, “What will happen to my parents if…?” The “if” here means, if they hear it or if it boomerangs or if it happens, etc. It can go on and on. The emphasis in this case is to weigh the consequences of a person’s action not only on himself but on the person whom the individual holds dear. On getting married the question changes into, “What will happen to my husband/wife if…?” “What will he/she do if he/she hears it?” “What effect will this have on my marriage?” These basic posers usually help the individual to give some consideration to both his action and the recipient of the act. In that light let us look at some remedial measures that could help some erring couples retrace their steps in marriage.
Be selfless: Marriage is not a private business. In marriage the two are a united whole. It is not a two in one kind of thing but a one in two. Christ says, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Matt. 19: 5-6). In marriage the couple forms a community of life and love, a community of one in two. That is why the couple forms an inseparable bond. Where one denies the other of any good, he denies himself. When one cheats the other, he cheats himself. And this is the marriage mystery; mystery of one person in two bodies. Saint Paul puts it thus, “So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church because we are members of his body… This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:28-32). The unitive dimension of the marriage covenant demands unreserved love for one another. It demands selflessness. Selflessness here is two dimensional: giving and feeling. I have seen a situation where the woman is better positioned and more buoyant than the husband. Instead of treating the husband like the man he is, she decided to reduce him to the level of a house boy. The man would receive insults each time the children came for money and he couldn’t provide. The woman would after all solve the matter but at the expense of the man’s happiness in the house. Sometimes the man would be in need and continued to suffocate, but the wife would never accept she had any money to give. She would tell him all sorts of lies to dismiss the demand he made. But the irony is that the man in question was the bread winner of the house before a misfortune befell him. In some cases, the reverse is the case. Men would cook all sorts of lies in order to evade the family’s responsibility. Imagine that a man would want the wife to kneel down and beg for something before he would consider giving it to her. Giving only accompanies feeling in marriage. Feeling goes beyond emotional sympathy to point to the real essence of marriage. Feeling depicts love. If one partner loves the other, he feels for/with him/her. If the husband loves the wife, he feels with her. If the wife loves the husband, she also feels with him. When couples love each other, they won’t be selfish, insincere, insensitive, etc. Selflessness eliminates insincerity in marriage.
Be transparent: No marriage works without transparency. It is applicable to both the husband and the wife. Unfortunately, most times, husbands would like to be the mirrors for their wives while themselves remaining very opaque. Some men would want to know every detail of their wives’ movement, transaction, relationship, etc, but wouldn’t want their wives to know a bit about themselves. This is wrong. Reading through Funke Egbemode’s column in Sunday Sun of September 1, 2013, I found the confessions of one Gerald Rogers titled, “My advice to married couples after divorcing my wife of 16 years” relevant to our discussion. Among other things, Mr. Rogers advised men thus, “Be fully transparent. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, to fully open your heart and let her in when you don’t know if she will like what she finds…Part of that courage is allowing her to love you completely, your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be” (Back page of Sunday Sun, Sept. 1, 2013, Vol. 10, No. 541). Transparency dispels fear and tension in marriage. It eliminates insincerity.
Build Mutual Trust: To build mutual trust in marriage means eliminating all sources of fear and suspicion. It means appreciating one’s partner the way he/she is. It means overlooking the sour spots of one’s spouse and concentrating on the very attractive qualities. It means concentrating more on the qualities that gave the marriage union its initial impetus. Fear, as we said earlier, leads many couples especially women into insincerity. However, to get the best of the woman, the man must give her reasonable freedom. He must make her to trust him and feel safe confiding in him. This is what marriage is all about. The woman wants to be appreciated so also the man. The woman wants to be trusted. She gives her best when she is treated with dignity. She improves when she is corrected from her mistake with compassion and care. She tells her husband the whole truth about herself when she feels secure. Once the woman is trusted, she trusts the man in return without question. One good way to avoid or eliminate insincerity is by building a relationship of mutual trust for one another in marriage.
Severe negative factors: Many negative factors have been discovered to be responsible to insincerity in marriage. While some of these factors like habit, greed, etc, come from within the person, some other factors are external. The external factors often times arise from bad associations that influence the individual negatively. They emanate from contacts with friends or peer groups. They can also be acquired from reading novels and literature books that promote unhealthy practices in marriage. The most common of these influences nowadays come from home movies which teach couples that certain acts are possible to survive through manipulations in marriage. Some times, individuals are ignorantly addicted to either persons or programs that influence them unconsciously. Attachments to certain relationships result equally in pressure in marriage. Such pressures invariably give rise to telling lies to one’s partner as a means of cover up. For the man or woman to liberate himself/herself from the bondage of insincerity, he/she must first severe the source.
Appreciate hard times: Married life is deeper than the initial attraction which young people feel at the early stages of their meeting. Sometimes there is a kind of euphoria or exuberance which carries with it great excitement for intending couples. That is normal. Every young man wants to settle down. Every young woman wants to fall into the hands of a wonderful young man who would care for and love her all the rest of her life. The actualization of such dream eventually goes with aha experience on both parties in marriage. That is why the wedding day is the most celebrated in the life of every couple. But some couples have made the mistake of imagining that marriage is all roses. They fail to see the inner dimension of marriage with its challenges and responsibilities. They fail to accept the difficulties that come as marriage progresses. This is why some persons begin to gamble in the course of their married life. On the part of women, some fail to acknowledge the role of woman-hood, mother-hood and house wife-hood that is a sine qua non. Some want to enjoy absolute freedom, want to belong to every association of their choice, wear any dress of their choice, maintain every relationship of their choice, do every business of their choice, embark on every trip of their choice, at the expense of their marriage. For men, some would want to do any business of their choice, drink as they want, spend their money as they want, attend parties as they want, all without minding the feelings of their wives. Failure to acknowledge one’s conditions and the true position of married life is failure to be sincere to oneself. Failure to live up to the difficulties in married life also leads to insincerity in marriage. For example, a marriage was almost torn apart because of a plot of land purchased by a woman without her husband’s knowledge. She did the papers of the land without the husband knowing. When the man eventually found out, she told him lies concerning the transaction. When eventually the truth surfaced, the woman became obstinate. She remarked that she no longer trusted the husband and had to do that to protect her future. When it became so tough, she maintained that she preferred to lose the marriage rather than give up ownership of the property.
Be in love with Truth: Being in love with the truth is also a habit. It is a virtue acquired over time. Just as one cultivates the habit of telling lies, one can as well cultivate the habit of being sincere. A sincere wife is admired so also a sincere husband. The important thing is for the man/woman to realize that the partner is honest. Such a partner surely has the confidence of his/her spouse including that of the entire family members. He/she can vouch for the partner even in her absence against any accusation. Assuming a young wife breaks the husband’s most cherished glass cup and knows that the husband would surely be angry with her. The best action is not to hide the pieces and pretend as if nothing happened. She is not even to wait until the husband queries her since she knows the truth would surface in no distant time. The secret is for her to device a way and study the husband’s mood to communicate. The same applies when she needs money. Rather than pilfer her husband’s money, the in-thing is to discover the best times for her to get the better of the man. That is part of marriage, little things that matter. Unfortunately though, some husbands are very tough and impenetrable. A woman described her husband as “iron”. I appeal to such “iron” husbands to soften a little for the sake of love. “Iron” husbands can make women to coat themselves and become resistant to their toughness. The resultant effect would be that “iron” jams “iron” resulting to insincerity and mistrust. But when a man plays the fool sometimes for the sake of love, the woman in turn makes herself his fool. But the man who claims he knows everything and plays the hard man always is often at a loss. To both husband and wife, remember, Christ is “the way, the truth and the life” (cf. John 14: 6). And he commands, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8: 32).
To be contd.
The Data of Forgiveness
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.
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.
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
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