On the eve of the New Year (2015), I stumbled on this great single by Alicia Keys, We are here. Listening to the song gave me goose bumps and had me batting my lashes to keep the tears away. Try listening to the song and you would understand better. The beginning goes like this:
We are here,
We are here for all of us (2x)
That’s why we are here,
It’s why we are here.
Then she goes on to sing about crisis and social injustice in different parts of the world including our beloved Nigeria. The second verse was just the height of it all;
Let’s talk about our heart, my heart touch your heart
Let’s talk about, let’s talk about living
Had enough of dying, not what we all about
Let’s do more giving, do more forgiving
Our souls are brought together so that we can love each other
Just in case you are wondering, this is not a song review but I think that anyone who listens to this song will have a cause to ask some questions among which will be, “Why am I here?” This same question was what prompted the singer to write this inspiring piece. Asides the great beats, lovely voice etc., the song sends a clear message to us all: that we are here on earth for all of us. For the people we call family, for our colleagues, for those we meet on our way to work, for the “mama” we buy foodstuffs from. For all of us humans without exceptions. Even our own Tuface seconds this in his song, only me:
Individuality cannot make us tall,
Na community na him make us all
In the times we are in, this can be a difficult concept to agree to as we have more or less adopted the policy of each man for himself. This notion of Me, Myself and I makes it very difficult for us to look beyond ourselves to see others. World economies are improving but only the rich feel the impact and they build higher walls and longer bridges to keep out the poor. Though human progress is a great advantage to man, it has brought with it a strong temptation: individuals and groups pay heed solely to their own interests and not those of others. Thus the world ceases to be a place of true brotherhood. Quoting from Pope Francis’ Lenten message for 2015, “usually when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others, we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and injustices they endure. Our hearts grows cold”. This he called the globalization of indifference. Indifference to our neighbours, indifference to God, indifference to the suffering and poverty all around us. What we need is a renewal and lent is a perfect time to remember that “our souls are brought together so that we can love each other”.
The period of lent is a time of renewal for each community and each believer. To understand that if one member suffers, we all suffer. As we are all one body in Christ we cannot be indifferent to the needs of others. Every Christian is called to go out of him/herself and be engaged in the life of the greater society which he/she is a part, especially the poor. Everyone must consider his neighbour without exception as another self, taking into account first of all his own life and the means necessary to living it with dignity so as not to imitate the rich man who had no concern for the poor man Lazarus. A special obligation binds us to make ourselves the neighbour of every person without exception and actively help him when he comes across our path whether he be an old person abandoned by all, a labourer unjustly looked down upon, a refugee, a child born of an unlawful union and wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit, a physically challenged or a hungry person who disturbs our conscience by recalling the voice of the lord. As long as you did it for one of these of my brethren you did it for me (Matt 25:40).
Sometimes we cannot help feeling helpless and powerless in the midst of countless reports of human suffering. We feel it’s just too much for little me to make any impact. So what do we do? First, we can pray for these people; never underestimate the power of prayer. Secondly, we can help by numerous acts of charity: donating to charitable organizations, no matter how much; visiting orphanages, old people’s homes; giving out those clothes that you have been storing up for when you get slimmer; walking that distance and giving the money to beggars. These little but concrete signs show that we are truly concerned. The sufferings of others can also be a reminder of the uncertainty of our lives and our dependence on God and other humans. Thus it can draw us closer to God.
Lent is a 40-day period that starts on Ash Wednesday and ends at Easter Triduum. It’s a period of prayer, fasting/self-denial and almsgiving (surely a good time to get rid of that lazy addiction). We can really make a lot of difference these days by being Islands of mercy in this Sea of indifference. So start today!