Righteousness in the saying is easy, it’s no better than bragging, everyone does it. Righteousness in the doing however is a tad more complicated and requires us to commit to doing all that we say and lay claim to believing all the time.
The matter of honour and integrity are actually the issue here and I wonder just how many of us can lay claim to having integrity and being honourable.
To be honourable one must live in a way and manner that elicits respect and even admiration; we must do right and live right, often means a lot of painful, sacrificial and unpopular choices.
While my faith holds a very important part of my heart and life, this is not about religion; it’s about the choices we make in life that determine our fate and define who and what we stand for.
Two years ago, we had a man come to share his experiences in our church, he was disfigured by wounds that were almost fatal. His experiences brought chills to all hearts and you had to admire the sheer grit of a man who looked death in the face and spat in his eyes.
His home had been invaded in the middle of the night by armed men, they had him pinned to the ground with a gun to his head and all he had to do was renounce his faith and declare theirs!
He admitted feeling the fear, he had already been bloodied and beaten but the fear couldn’t force him to renounce his faith and he actually remembered in vivid detail how the bullets tore into his face. Yes, he was shot in the head and left for dead except of course that he did not die.
He had to endure the pain of a shattered skull for over 12 hours before he was given treatment at the hospital sympathisers took him to. You could have heard a pin drop in the sanctuary as we all were gripped with horror at some of his accounts that were grisly.
He came with video evidence but I couldn’t muster the courage to take the CDs that were being freely offered. I still shudder when I recall that testimony and people like him are those who do right, exemplifying righteousness in the doing.
Truth be told, I really cannot say for certain what I would do in a situation of severe testing and I am reminded of that man’s bravery by the recent passing of Dr Ameyo Adadevoh. After all’s said and done, how many of us would have taken the chances she took and even after taking those chances why stay on?
Let me explain, if you had been exposed to a virus and knew for certain that there was a possible cure in a country you had access to why not just get on a plane before you become symptomatic? It would then just be a question of reporting to a medical facility as soon as you land and getting treated because you pose a risk to the public.
I am not advocating such a desperate move. That was what informed Patrick Sawyer’s decision to import Ebola to Lagos but isn’t desperation a reaction to fear thats normal? Like all Nigerians I am grateful to Dr Adadevoh and her actions in forcibly keeping Patrick Sawyer from leaving but my admiration of her stems from her decision to stay in the country when she could have just boarded the next plane.
That decision confirmed her to be a woman of great integrity, able to stare death in the face and enter eternity with dignity. The only other option left to her would have been to export the Ebola virus into the US in the hopes of getting treated with the Zmapp serum and she would then have become a pariah, alive but dead to righteousness; uncelebrated and vilified.
So what makes for righteousness? Perhaps I should clarify that I am talking about being just, being upright, being fair to others and living a life that calls others to be better.
Becoming an icon by making choices that serve the greater good often times at one’s expense. I would dare say that lately I am more focussed on the hereafter than the now, (really convenient as I am well into middle age) but can anyone really predict an accurate response for situations that may or may not happen? Would that not be presumptuous just like Apostle Peter was?
The Bible recalls that Peter when faced with the possibility of a lynching and crucifixion was very quick to deny Jesus and even though he felt shame afterwards, his actions when it counted were without honour and integrity.
I have concluded that life is all about growth, we learn from our experiences and they shape and define us. I chose not to align righteousness with religion because its bigger than that. Whatever faith we profess, there is right and wrong and we should all acknowledge the responsibility that comes with the choices we make.
As we approach another round of voting with elections round the corner, I worry about the desperation of politicians that have made winning a do or die affair. The political class we have in Nigeria now epitomise unrighteousness and wickedness in the extreme and I wonder what it will take to rid our nation of them.
Where are those men and women who would put country and people first? Is it too much to ask for a crop of leaders who do what they say? Who am I kidding? Politicians in Nigeria don’t make false promises to the electorate, they make threats to each other and create mayhem. Why bother making promises they wont keep, when the rigging protocols are already perfected?
The Adadevoh saga, sad as it was gave me hope for Nigeria, it told us all, that there were still people of honour and integrity in Nigeria. The government may choose not to honour such people but we the people do. We the people will continue to pray that God will raise a crop of leaders more interested in righteousness in the doing not just in the saying.