“One should never rub bottoms with a porcupine.” – Ghanaian proverb
You desire life to be wonderful, yet you do not make a conscious effort to ensure your actions are magnificent. You want a peaceful society, yet you spend most of your time quarrelling about ideologies and dogmas. You want a beautiful world, but how many of your actions are in themselves beautiful? You pray fervently for a dosage of goodness and mercy to be poured on you all your life – but interestingly, you do not pour goodness on others, neither are you merciful. We desire the best life has to offer, yet many of us do not want to be the example of the best that we desire.
All of us have got tonnes of questions regarding why life is not as amazing as it should be. Deep down in the depths of our imagination, we hold visions of life in its utopian state – an idealistic web of truth, goodness and beauty that dignifies our humanity and grants us so much peace of mind our hearts overflow with joy. Yet the moment we tune into reality, we are the same ones who are quick to tell ‘white-lies’, engage in unethical behaviour, and fail to appreciate beauty – all in the name of making ends meet. Think about it, the end you so badly desire is truth, goodness and beauty; but if your actions oppose those values, how are you ever going to achieve that end?
We all desire to enjoy life, yet not all of us appreciate life enough to make it wonderful and meaningful for ourselves and others. And it is because many of us fail to recognise that what we call ‘my life’ is invariably the platform on which we subliminally portray our uniqueness as an example of what life should really be. In a nutshell, you are the primary personification of life. How you live gives us an insight into what you believe life to be. That is why your life is an example for many. The question then arises; what example are you leaving for the world?
Indeed, there is a dearth of examples in living the ideal life. Many of us do not make conscious efforts to show the world how to live truly and beautifully in the way we practice our convictions and in the way we translate what we hold as true, good and beautiful in our daily interactions. We say one thing and act the other way. We have created a dichotomy between our words and our actions. We are all examples to others, yet we do not live out the counsel that we publicly profess. We live double-lives and expect those coming after us to do better. If you care to know, that is the hardest task for any individual. How does one aspire to be a wonderful person without examples around us for him or her to imitate? We tell our children to be good, yet we cannot give them examples of what living a good life entails. How are they ever going to be good?
Is it surprising the younger generation is sceptical about anything the older generation says and does? Or why the general public distrusts leadership? They observe how our private lives contradict what we say and do in public. It might not go down well with many of us, but life is all about examples. Leadership is about exemplary actions. So too is parenting, teaching, shepherding, management, adulthood and everything else that has to do with making life meaningful. The idea of being an example may be a human construction, but what really is life if we cannot have the integrity upon which to build our fidelity? Are we not purposed to ensure others understand life better and live it wonderfully through our actions?
Since the days of old, many have contemplated the enigmatic notion of exemplariness and its purpose to human life. While almost all have concluded it to be an important aspect of our existence, others have taken it a notch higher and categorised it as the credits we take into the afterlife. Whether it is significant or trifling, the notion of example has always sustained our curiosity. We seek prudence in it. We learn about loyalty, duty and care from examples. It is the most visible learning-aid, and the biggest as well. Unlike the many counsels we receive, an example is the classical ‘writing on the wall’ that we cannot miss. It teaches us what our elders, leaders, teachers, parents, friends as well as our enemies value the most, and how we have to adjust our lifestyles if we need get into their little notebooks.
Sadly, the rise of relativism and individualism is making it more and more difficult to lead exemplary lives. Many of us have coded our consciousness to block out intergenerational responsibility so that we can live according to how we feel, not how we are supposed to. We are more focused on caring mostly about ourselves, without regard to the footprints we leave behind. To make it worse, societal and peer-pressure is inspiring many of us to compromise our values because we do not want to out of place with others. We want to ‘fit-in’ so that others do not think we are weird. If this is not the greatest act of folly, what else can surpass it?
We have a duty to live exemplary lives. It might seem difficult, but it is what the world needs most right now. It is good that we are pushing technological advancements to the highest possible limits, but the human soul thrives on truth, goodness and beauty. These are values that can only be passed on through examples. What example does your life project?
Kodwo Brumpon is a management consultant and a life coach who inspires individuals, groups and corporate bodies to think and feel that which is true, and helps them to positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions. Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at email@example.com