Talk to anyone in the lower stratum of the society and it would take you no time to discover that from primary school to university, the biggest aspiration of our youth is to find a way of getting out of their dire situation to join the elite of the society. Nobody seems to bother or think about how to make the society equal or at least reduce the gap between the have and the have-not. Everybody basically is occupied with the thought of personal survival, it is mainly a thought about me, my convenience and my breakthrough.
The underlining tone however is always that of I want to make it not just for me to provide for my daily bread, but to be able to flaunt my ego around in the so called circle of friends. We want to get ourselves into the community of the successful. We want to brag ourselves in whose society and clubs we socialize. Some even go as much as to proud themselves in how well they speak English, what accent they use, to the extent that a mundane thing like that sometimes decides placement in the society.
How do we understand all these frivolities described above? The explanation is simple, we are an elite crazed society.
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.’ Hungry not only for bread — but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing — but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks — but homeless because of rejection.”- Mother Teresa
At a time when Europe has long forgotten the aristocratic nature of their history, we are now trying to resurrect the dead horse of aristocratic elitism. These are topics that must be addressed if Nigeria and Africa in general must progress.
In a continent like ours where the elites of today are the newly rescued illiterates of yesterday. In a continent where more than 50% of the populace cannot read nor write, it is a crime to create a class based dichotomy. Such segregation and disconnect will be tantamount to a lasting condemnation of half of our society to poverty, ignorance and utter destruction.
There is just no way a neo aristocratic elitism should find its way to the African continent. It will amount to forgetting where we were yesterday before we were delivered thanks to education, privileges and opportunities. As elites our primary concern and burden should be to create similar opportunities for deliverance from the darkness of ignorance to all our people.
“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1Jn. 3:17-18
What is even more troublesome in Nigeria, Africa and most developing countries is that this aristocratic elitism as I call it, is not only practiced among the political class. In my country Nigeria for example, the mindset, the drive of the culture, is to be aligned as quickly as possible with this class of people. Even the poor are dreaming of becoming so aligned.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
This subculture has now perverted our society so much so that our youth would do anything, steal, rob, do cyber-crime, engage in any form of fraud, just to be seen as belonging to this aristocratic elitist class. For those who are not fast enough to climb up this elitist ladder, they become a kind of Robin Hood in the nation. They create their own justice, enforce their own morals, and find ways to humble or humiliate the so called callous rich.
It is hard not to see where this Robin Hood robbers are coming from, it is hard not to see their logic. Because our elites are indeed callous! Is it not callous when you build a million dollar house in a neighborhood and your neighbors are living in shacks, yet you don’t bother to find out what is happening to them? Is it not callous when you tile your million dollar compound, yet the road leading to that house is untarred? Everybody else can go to hell!
Is it not callous to have street lights in your house while your street is in darkness? Is it not callous when you have three generators to provide constant electricity for your little kingdom while the rest of the street is agonizing in total darkness? Is it not callous to create a heavenly paradise in your one hectare of territory while the whole city is living in a mini hell? Yet no attention is paid to them. Very soon it becomes understandable where the armed robbers, thieves, criminals and gangs are all coming from.
“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.” ― Horace Mann
To make things worse, this elitist class of people go as far as stating that they don’t owe anyone anything. Their response is, if you have any issues, let the government fix it for you. Oh, what a short memory we all have. Most of us are either first, second or third generation elites. That is to say, we could still remember how our parents or grandparents came out of poverty.
“I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.” ― Charles De Lint
We don’t develop in ourselves a compassionate attitude to others who are yet to escape from this labyrinth of poverty, ignorance and darkness. Where has our compassion gone? What has happened to our hearts? It is this anger and frustration of disillusioned young men that sometimes lead them into the evil lifestyle that we all berate.
“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but indeed and in truth.” 1Jn. 3:17-18
You wonder where then is the church? An institution which for one was supposed to be a leveler that creates solace to the less privileged. Yet what a disappointment it is, when you go to church and discover that it has become an elitist center for the few privileged. It could be as bad as not letting some group of people enter into some churches because they don’t look presentable enough. Can you imagine that?
These are supposed to be the followers of a savior who said “let all come to me who are burdened and are heavy laden.” These people claim to represent the redeemer that says “don’t resist them, let the children come to me.” Yet here we are, these so called disciples of the Lord Jesus now sending people away from Gods house, because they didn’t dress nice, or cool enough or maybe because they are not cute enough.
Some even go to church today to parade their class and elitism. What a far departure from the church that was introduced to the African continent which was truly a leveler to all peoples. The church that provided education for the illiterate. The church that provided light for those in darkness. The church that provided food to the hungry. The church that supplied water for the thirsty. The church that was presented by foreigners with white skin yet speaking local dialects. The church that had servants of God who despite coming from Europe remove their shoes so they could look like the locals. Where have we lost that church? And what has happened to the Christian compassion?
“If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.” Isa 58:101
I am compelled to address this topic of the role of the elites in National Transformation, because yes the elites must redefine their roles and responsibility in the society. We that God has blessed, we must know, we are only blessed to be a blessing. We that have been raised by God almighty must acknowledge the fact that we were raised to raise other. Those of us who have been enlightened must become torch bearers to those in darkness.
“He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.” Prov. 14:31
The elite of Nigeria, Africa and the developing world in general must know that we are only as rich as our community is. If our community is poor, even if we swim in money, we are truly poor and of all men most miserable. We are not enlightened so far as somebody in our society is in darkness, we are not elitist as far as someone around us is crawling. We are not fed when anyone around us is hungry. We are not privileged if we are surrounded by disadvantaged people.
“If you’re 1 in the luckiest 1% of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99% “- Warren Buffett
My dear friends if you are able to read this article, it means you are privileged far and above most people on our continent. What would you do about it? How many people are you lifting? How many people are you enlightening? How many people are you raising? How many people are you blessing? How many people are you restoring? Blessed to be a blessing!
“I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
Friends we are not raised to look down on others. We are not lifted to turn others to stepping stones. We were not empowered to suppress the weak. We were not delivered to lock up others, and we are not honored so that we could disregard the dishonored.
My dear readers, it is my believe that the elites of our society have gotten it all wrong. Our aspirations are wrong, our focus is faulty, our pursuit erroneous. The measure of man is only seen in how low they can stoop.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ― John Bunyan
Your greatness would only be measured by your service. I therefore cry on this platform today to all the privileged few in all cities and nations of the earth to please hear the voice of conscience and stretch out your hands to strengthen the knees that are weakened and to lift those that are fallen. Let us be elites in God’s eyes. Let us honor fellow men so that heaven could honor us. Let us begin to gauge ourselves on God’s scale rather than man’s scale of judgment.
It is my believe that everyone that is privileged in anything must find someone else who is less privileged to make them understand and attain the level they have attained. If you can read, find those you can teach to read. If you can write, teach those who can’t write. If you can work teach others the value of labor. If you are computer literate, give that gift to someone else.
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own.” – Disraeli
If you can dress, show somebody else how to do it. If you can make money, start a school of economic empowerment. If you are a millionaire, give yourself a target of how many millionaires you can reproduce outside of your family. If you know, who would you teach? If you were blessed by somebody else, who would you be a blessing to? If you were noticed, who would you notice?
In the church that I am privileged to lead here in Ukraine and all over the world, it has become a matter of policy for every member to have something they are responsible for outside of the four walls of the church in the larger community. Each member must take responsibility for somebody or something that must be fixed in our society.
“Let no one be discouraged by the belief that there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills, misery, ignorance, and violence. Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.”- Robert F. Kennedy
Jesus cared enough that he left heaven to show men how much he cares. What comfort zone are you leaving to prove to someone else how much you care?
If this line of thought could become a movement, a movement to enlighten the elites of the society, we can have a civilized and developed continent in no time. Can you imagine social organizations springing up to educate and help every privileged person be to become a blessing to another who is less privileged? What a better world we would create. Oh, how quickly the kingdom of God would come!
The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. – William James
Instead of building an aristocratic elitist society, it is my believe that we in Africa must rather lean towards an egalitarian society, where we de-emphasize the position, power and privilege of individuals, but rather celebrate their values as individuals.
Egalitarian society favors equality for all people. Egalitarian understanding of life maintains that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status. It is based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ― John Holmes
From my observations it is like nobody truly believes in these words. In our modern society of today, we would rather flaunt how opportune and privileged we are. In an egalitarian society however, the privileged strive, sacrifice to make sure that all other people around them enjoy the same privileges they themselves are opportune to enjoy.
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
In an egalitarian society, men and women are equally respected no matter their status, privilege or standing. The fundamentals of such society is that since God created all equal, then all deserve to be respected and honored. An egalitarian society is a perfect picture of a Christian world view, it maintains that everybody must be honored because by honoring him you honor the God in him. Everyone deserves to be honored and treated with uttermost respect because God is in everyone.
It is this school of thought that compels elitist individuals to use the platform of their elitism to lift and raise others who are less privileged. It is the fundamental understanding that we are all equal in the eyes of God that pushes men who are more privileged than others to use their positions to create more opportunities for all those who don’t possess the same privileges.
“Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked.” Ps. 82:3-4
As I am writing this I could almost hear how some of my readers are thinking, what do you mean? Are you proposing for us to change the bases of our society, where we have the kings, Obas, Emir Igwes? Some are saying, this won’t work! This is not Europe! This is Africa! Don’t force us to revisit our history!
Oh, how I pray that God would help everyone of you reading this article to sense, feel and understand how fast our nations could be transformed, developed, civilized, if we could revisit the role of the elite in our society. No matter how traditional, no matter how dogmatic, no matter how rigid our tradition is, it does not come close to how bad it was in old Europe.
The level of elitism, aristocracy, in Europe was worse than in any part of the world, hence it had to be broken down before they could experience true development. Equality, respect to human dignity, emphasis on the image of God in man, has to take the place of the power of the few and the rule of the powerful.
“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of person kind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.” ― Leo Buscaglia
I don’t have any doubt in my mind that if this message could be embraced by the elite of Africa, they alone are capable of reconstructing not just our individual societies, but the continent as whole. It is my prayer that there would be men and women who will arise as a result of this message and run with the vision to build a new nation, a new society and a new world.
May there arise an understanding in all the nations where there is suffering and groaning, that the purpose of wealth is not for bragging or oppression. May our elite understand that wealth is for stewardship. May stewardship and service hereby become our privilege and honor. May it become our pursuit and goal, may we rather outperform each other in well doing. That the light of God may equally brighten the lives of all.
“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein
It is my prayer that our elites will no longer make possession their trust, I pray that God would give us a true understanding of the purpose of riches. May God let us use our riches only to enrich others. May we understand that a man may be rich not only in material terms. May we know and recognize our riches in knowledge, so that by it we could empower others and deliver them from a life of darkness.
May God give us the understanding that if we possess some form of wisdom that we are already indeed rich, but better still may God give us the fortitude to step out in faith to use this wisdom to deliver, to empower and to equip those who might not know what we already know in life.
“He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.” Prov. 22:9
May we stop whining and complaining about those things we still lack. May God help us to rather ask of him the grace, to see what we have and to know how best to use what we already possess, for his glory and for the betterment of others.
“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.” ― Mandy Hale
I pray that we would begin to see our skills, expertise and profession as good enough endowment that must be used to enable less privileged people. May God help us to know that even our human qualities are good enough to make us deliverers to so many others.
May we like the Good Samaritan begin to apply all the forms of wealth we have been privileged to possess for the good of others. Be it kindness, be it material possessions, be it compassion, be it attention, may we never think that anything is too small.
“Giving is the highest expression of potency. In the very act of giving, I experience my strength, my wealth, my power. This experience of heightened vitality and potency fills me with joy. I experience myself as overflowing, spending, alive, hence as joyous. Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness.” – Erich Fromm
May God deliver us the elites from the sin of negligence. That we would not continue to neglect all the good resources God has endowed in us to use for the betterment of others. May God truly teach us to have a generous heart, that we might be ready at all times to share and to give of ourselves to others.
May God help us to understand the meaning of service. May God help us to know that our life itself is about service. May we realize that we are created to serve and that life has meaning only when it is given out in service.
I pray that God would give each and every one of us the grace and the moral courage to step out of our comfort zones and create a platform from where we could reach out to others no matter how little or small it is. May God give us understanding in using non-governmental organizations, pressure groups, civil societies, as a means to better the lives of others.
I pray that God would help us to begin to look at others with compassion, rather than with resentment. May we continuously ask ourselves what we could do to improve the lives of each and every person we meet or see on daily basis. May the lord God of heaven awaken our conscience that we might strive to provide not just for self, but to work harder that we might have the means to do even more for the less privileged around us.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ― John Bunyan
It is my prayer that we would stop building walls and fences. I pray that we will no more make a refuge of our skills and possessions, but rather begin by the grace of God to build bridges through our gifts, skills and possessions.
May God help us to trust less in riches, wealth and position. May we trust more in humanity, love, compassion and other virtues of heaven. May we become more like Jesus who left the comfort of heaven to meet the need of the earth. May God give us the grace to sacrifice our comfort and security for the goodness of all.
May God help us to see into the plight of the armed robbers, thieves and gang members who are attacking us on daily basis. May we trust less in our power to fight them, kill them or destroy them one way or the other. May we rather have compassion enough to come up with solutions on how to lend them a hand, so that they too might come out of their predicament and see the light as God has allowed us to see.
May God help us to begin to make more friends instead of enemies with our fellow countrymen, no matter what their status is. May we come to the understanding that our faith is only accepted by God when it is confirmed by good works. May God help us to have faith enough to come out of our pews and church walls to go and reach out to those who need us most with good works and kindness.
May the God of heaven help us to learn the lesson God thought the young lawyer who wanted to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Go and do likewise and you shall live eternally. That is the conclusion to the story of the Good Samaritan as told by Jesus. May we live a lifestyle of the Good Samaritan rather than the lifestyle of the Levite and the Priest that were too elitist to notice the need of their fellow man.
Oh, God help us see! Open our eyes that we might see. Open our ears that we might hear. Lord help the elites of our lands to arise from slumber and become the force of good for which you raised them. May they become lifters of men, raisers of destinies and doers of good to all men.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHURCH AND NATION
By Pastor Sunday Adelaja.