“You can leave without a friend but never without a neighbour.” – African proverb
Every product comes with some form of instructions on how to use it. Not only do they provide important details about the product to the customer, but they are purposed to ensure proper use of the said product.
To this end, they usually include a description of the product, explanations on ways to use it – and also drawings to illustrate the explanations if need be. Manufacturers strive to ensure the instructions are clear and easy to understand for the user, keeping in mind the fact that users do not necessarily know the product beforehand.
Let us use this same analogy for life. Do you know life has a manual? Interestingly, not many of us bother to think about it much less seeking to know it. For those among us who have not bothered to read the instructions, it is summed up in two sentences. The first being “love the Lord God (our Creator) with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind”. And the second is “love your neighbour as yourself”. These are instructions arranged in a manner whereby the priority of one makes it a possibility for the other. A love of our Creator makes it possible to love His creation – yourself and your neighbour.
Interestingly, many of us never bother to live life according to our Creator’s instructions. Yet we are quick to question the state of life, and attribute the many challenges plaguing us to the notion that ‘life is not perfect”. What drives that attitude is mind-boggling. And I say this because we do not say the same for manufactured products we buy.
So, let’s be fair with life. Our Creator never declared that all that He had created was perfect, He said His creation is “good”. Thus, even if there are irregularities and deficiencies in them – for example, the fact that “no human face is exactly the same in its lines on each side, no leaf perfect in its lobes, or no branch in its symmetry”, let us accept that life is good. If we want life to be perfect, let us imitate Him, for He has commanded that we do so. We might actually be surprised how beautiful life would be if we imitated Him.
Our fathers always said “when you point a finger, the rest point at you”. Life is plagued with many challenges because many of us do not obey the instruction manual that came with it. Unlike products which only respond to our use, we are creatures with abilities like our Creator. We can do all things. This is the reason many of us are always trying to go beyond the boundaries of permissibility. We know it is possible to live even if we do not adhere to our Creator’s instructions.
The conflation between possibility and permissibility has gotten into our heads, and we are bluntly refusing to live life according to its manual. We know from experience that when you use, for example, a standard wrist-watch like a sports watch, you end up destroying the former. Why then do we live life anyhow?
One of the traits our Creator instilled in us is the need to interact and connect with each other. That is also why He has instructed that we love each other as ourselves. As research has shown over and over again, “lots of people die not from neglect but from the lack of social interactions”. We need each other. And we need each other in our genuine selves. That is why love is the currency for our interactions. Sadly, too many of us operate without love. We just live like there is not enough and so we have to grab the most for ourselves, even if it means hurting others. Instead of doing what is right, or what is permissible, we abuse our possibilities’ abilities.
Many of life’s unjust situations reveal to us the absence of ‘loving thy neighbour’. Our insensitivity makes us grab too much of the good thing for ourselves, and in the process others are deprived of or prevented from accessing the necessities of life. This attitude creates poverty. And the ripples of poverty lead to illnesses and crimes which come back to affect all of us.
Life’s true calling, to each of us, is to serve one another as we would want to be served. Anything short of that creates challenges. If you start taking stock of all the challenges in the world, the trend that emerges in them is lack of love. It is true we do not consciously want to be loveless, but we have become as such because we have forgotten to live per the instructions of life. Today, we are called to be mindful of our actions. We are to let love for our neighbour flow through our thoughts, words and actions…
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 protected]