By Debbie Olujobi
In the Nigeria of my dreams we would all live under a state of grace. The grace of God bestowed on man and the grace of man to man. Grace would be the lubricant that keeps the engine of humanity running.
I once had an interesting conversation and it centred on the close friendship of 3 religious leaders, one a Muslim, the other a Buddhist and the third a Christian; not a lot is known about this friendship. Their busy schedules didn’t always make it possible for them to spend time together; but the few times they did, they served each other and spent time in contemplation and loving discuss.
All 3 men have long died and I wonder what they would think of the world and the place of religion in the millennium.
Religion was not a dividing factor for them rather they respected each other’s truths and choices and one statement by the Buddhist monk in my view is the very essence of grace. When asked how people of such diverse truths could be friends, he said that the key was grace to acknowledge that no one truth was false!
It is very arrogant for anyone person to presume to seat over anyone else in judgement!
It is particularly irksome when Holy books are employed and interpreted to back up arguments that smirk of bigotry, contempt, intolerance and ignorance.
The Nigerian history took a downward turn when a particular military regime introduced religion as a way to curb dissent and perpetrate themselves in power. Hitherto we were a nation of people with diverse truths and creeds living in relative peace.
No one was threatened by anyone else’s truth! It is peculiar that the world is also being separated by arrogant bigots who make themselves crusaders of a truth that is fuelled by fear. Before anyone starts casting stones; they should look closely in the mirror; bigots are found in all religious dispensations. Grace is the compulsory pill that will change the world if we must survive.
Grace will erase, terrorism, materialism, which in turn will eliminate consumerism (the need to acquire things at all costs even when we don’t need them).
I discovered the friendship of the 3 sages by chance. I had joined a discussion where some people opined that powerful and rich people always seemed to get along. Even when they cause disputes and many people lose life and limb fighting their cause; they manage to generally get along.
Someone mentioned a murder case concerning one of Nigeria’s most prominent families that had died down because the families apparently got together and had settled the matter! Apparently murder amongst friends is not a deal breaker in power broking! Someone then mentioned the 3 sages and commented on how these great men had also been great friends despite the fact their followers were more often than not at loggerheads.
I ordinarily would not have seen what those men could have in common! Each religion actually was a way of life, with what looks to be different world views and better still what would they discuss?
They didn’t even eat the same things!! How on earth did they get along without offending each other’s sensibilities? The million dollar question is this! Whose God was real, since all of them had a strong belief in their personal convictions? Didn’t they feel they were betraying their different faiths?
One of the great men had an answer that was very thought provoking! It was simple! Everybody’s truth was true! At least it was true to them! Now in the world of dualism where one person has to be wrong for another to be right; this answer is a bit stupefying! I can’t lay claim to some great wisdom but it has taken time for me to come round to this way of thinking.
I call this the state of grace; that place where one has advanced spiritually enough to allow others to have their own truth without judgement.
I honestly believe that Jesus Christ is Lord; it is my own truth in the same vein I make room for others to also live and breath their own truth whatever it may be! While judgement and condemnation is second nature to most of us, we must get to a higher plane of thinking that is not hinged on condemnation.
When I think of the 3 sages, I think grace; people who live as ministers of grace, seeking to serve, forever seeking enlightenment and knowledge.
Is it possible that disillusionment and disappointment in the world that we live in is causing us to vent our frustration on each other under the guise of religious fervour? Could it be that we are all buying in to sentiments of hate that cause fear and division because we really don’t have enough confidence in our own truths?
The world seems to be in a frantic race to self destruct and religion is the nuclear bomb of choice, yet grace is present in all tenets of all religions!! Is it possible that grace could heal the world? If so, how do we apply it’s soothing balm to open sores of grief and heartbreak?
It begins on a person to person basis, be graceful one to the other and we could yet save our world, for our children’s sakes! May grace be given to us from God and may we all be graceful enough to extend that same grace to each other.