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By Chike Emenike
The Holy Bible, The Holy Koran, The Hindu Scriptures, The Sanskrit, The Buddhist Teachings and all other such sources have stated, clearly and emphatically, that the second greatest law of God to man is: “Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself!”This is second only to the law which demands that man should love the Lord his God and worship no other god than Him.
LOVE! As a word it has remained ever so misunderstood, so misconceived, so misrepresented and certainly so abused by much of mankind. Ask ten human beings to define love, and you are likely to receive ten different and probably conflicting definitions. The reason is clear.
From ancient times ‘wise men’, philosophers and scholars have had difficulty defining, much less understanding and practising love in its true spiritual meaning. And it is the fact of this mass ignorance that has led men to commit unimaginable atrocities against their fellow-men. Consequently all of mankind is now suffering the absence of true love. There is so much hatred and conflict in the affairs of people within nations, and between nations, across the world. In fact the entire world is in turmoil.
Any wonder then the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) laid great emphasis on true Love. When everyone could “Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself” there would be peace and happiness in the world. So what is this “Love”?
Let’s consider, for instance, what prompted the monkey to say, “I know say my pikin no fine but I like-am!” Why would the mother of a condemned armed robber want to die rather than see her son shot at the stakes? In fact, what is the bonding force between a child and its mother; or the mighty affinity between the atoms of a molecule; or the power of attraction that would make a Juliet die for a Romeo, or force a King to abdicate his throne to follow a commoner woman? In each of the above instances the bonding force is never known on the physical level, hence it is subject to varied and conflicting definitions.
Now, let us seek help in the following, an excerpt from a book that I read:
“The Son of God (Jesus Christ) has already sent out a warning call to you once. He had said, ‘Forgive Thy Neighbour!!’ Do you know what this implies?………Forgiveness towards your fellow-man begins and ends with disregarding his faults!……..Not seeking faults in him! In other words, only attending to yourselves first, in this respect! First seeking and laying aside your faults, before attempting to draw your neighbour’s attention to his!
“Look closely at yourselves first, only then will you understand your neighbour! In understanding lies forgiveness! No longer seek the faults in others, but only in yourselves!
“But so often you have not heeded the warning given to you although the Lord Jesus Christ offered it to you in every word He said while on earth. Just like when He said to mankind: “Love Thy Neighbour As Thyself!”
And how does one love one’s neighbour? Simply by doing to another human being ONLY that which you yourself would like done to you! To accept your fellow-men the way they are, irrespective of their faults and short-comings.
On April 14th, 2014, over 200 young school girls were reportedly abducted by the Boko Haram in the Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State. Why? No love!
On the same April 14th, 2014, a deadly morning rush-hour terrorist bomb attack wreaked havoc in a crowded bus park at Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja. It claimed the lives of scores of ordinary, innocent Nigerians who had done nothing to the Boko Haram. Why? Again, no love!
The day after the Nyanya blast the Neighbour To Neighbour (N2N) For Transformation visited the Nyanya General Hospital and also the Asokoro Specialist Hospital, Abuja, where they donated relief materials to surviving victims. I was there.
At both hospitals, the terrible images of the injuries I saw on victims have remained indelibly etched on my mind. All I found myself asking was: “How could anyone do this to another human being, no matter the grievance?”Surely the Boko Haram and their bomber who agreed to carry out that loveless attack did not obey the law of God.
On May 22nd, 2014, a team from the N2N arrived at Jos, Plateau State. They had gone there to visit victims of the bomb blast which occurred in the city two days earlier. The Nyanya victims were a terrible sight to behold, no doubt. But nothing prepared the N2N team for what they met in Jos. There, man’s utter inhumanity to his fellow-man was in stark display in the hospital wards visited.
At the Bingham University Teaching Hospital, Jos, the first port of call, everyone in the team was shocked and left in disbelief at the scale of the injuries seen on patients. Many of the survivors were severely burnt or maimed. Passing by the mortuary, we could see black plastic bags packed with body parts said to belong to unrecognisable human beings. They were gathered and packed like pieces of garbage.
From Bingham we moved to the Plateau Specialist Hospital, also in Jos. Here similar horrors again confronted us. Ordinary Nigerians suddenly attacked with a bomb of hate thrown at them by men of the Boko Haram. Even then the worst was still to come
At the University of Jos Teaching Hospital (JUTH), those of us men who thought we had nerves and courage were severely tested. The women simply broke down. Everyone was overwhelmed by the unspeakable horror in the wards. Men, women and children; but especially young and middle-aged women; all writhing in pain. Why?
Madam Elizabeth Musa, a 50-year old trader, one half of her head heavily bandaged, sat bolt upright on her bed. She stared blankly into space with one eye. As I looked closely at her, my heart skipped a beat, goose pimples grew on my skin and I staggered away in shock. “This is unfair!” I said angrily. “Chei!” exclaimed many of the TV and newspaper reporters in the N2N entourage. “Is my face still there?” asked Madam Elizabeth in her native language. But no one had the courage to answer her. The sight was unbearable for Hajia, a Director in the N2N. She wept openly and had to be comforted.
Almost half of Madam Elizabeth’s face was said to have been blown away by shrapnel from the blast. And as we were soon to discover, more shock, more horror awaited us further down the wards.
A final year female medical student aged 24, was lying death-still on a bed in one ward. One of her legs had been amputated at above the ankle and a large metal object was extracted from her back; all because she was unlucky to be just passing through Jos that day. Hospital officials informed us of other amputated young people in the other wards.
In one of such cases an unpleasant surprise greeted one of the TV reporters present. All along he had been cheerfully interviewing those victims that were able to talk. But unknown to him the next amputated girl, a university student lying motionless on the bed we approached, was the daughter of his relative. The young reporter had to be helped and comforted by his cameraman and the rest of us as he slumped at a corner in tears. He later explained that no relative in Jos was yet aware that the girl was in town, let alone being a victim of the blast.
It was a long and weary day in Jos for the N2N team who, according to Plateau State government officials who received them, was the first of any organisation in Nigeria, governmental or non-governmental, to visit the bomb blast victims with relief materials and messages of love and encouragement.
The N2N did not stop just with Plateau but had done the same in Kano, Kaduna and Nasarawa states. In the three latter states the N2N team reached out not only to victims of bomb blasts but also to those of communal violence, including those resulting from attacks by suspected herdsmen. In all such visits the N2N donated need-specific relief materials to enable victims begin once again to pick up pieces of their lives shattered by people who could not bring themselves to “Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself”.
The time is now for all Nigerians, young or old, Christian or Moslem, from the North to the South, as individuals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and humanitarian groups to emulate the N2N and develop the spirit of love; advocate love; be their brother’s keeper; and insist that everyone should obey the holy injunction, “Love Thy Neighbour As Thyself!”
Emenike, an engineer, is also a consultant, freelance writer based in Lagos