By Akin Ojumu

Cruelty is a defining feature of these times. An epidemic of resentment has overtaken this age and a tsunami of bitterness floods our lands. Our public life is festooned in cruelty, and vengeance, like an impassable moat, circumscribes all of our social intercourse. Much of our lives is trapped in a web of acrimony and our discourse is tainted with malice. Male and female, rich or poor, from the oldest to the youngest, there is an affliction of loathing deep within our soul.

More than any other time in the history of mankind, the whole world seems to be drowning in the ocean of rancor. Metric tons of toxic fumes of animosity are pumped out into the airwaves, seeping into and polluting all facets of everyday life. Bad blood courses through the veins of our interconnectedness and a thick plaque of malevolence builds up in the walls of the arteries of our social interactions, causing an obstruction to the flow of harmony and tranquility that once existed among us.

Many husbands and wives have stood by and watched the cords that bind them together ripped apart by the venom that proceed out of their mouths. Nuclear families have been denucleated by jealousy and extended families have seen the unity that existed among them exsanguinated by envy and insecurity. Brothers have sold out brothers, and sister-to-sister animosities garner some of the highest ratings among reality TV dramas.

Our politics have become intensely tribal and our political discourse immensely coarse. Political contests are viewed as mortal combats and the people on the other side of the political spectrum are regarded as mortal enemies that must vanquished and eliminated by all means necessary.

The atmosphere in many of the places of employment are notoriously toxic and known for its vindictiveness. Collegial professionalism is a thing of the past, and those that work in these places are like crabs in a bucket who seek to advance their own career by pulling the next fellow down.

The Universities – described by Jonathan Rausch, in his 2018 article titled “The Constitution of Knowledge” featured in the National Affairs, as places that teach students to transcend their tribal identities rather than to burrow into them and regard diversity of perspective as a reason to have conversations, not to shut them down – have become institutions that traffic in politicized orthodoxies and secular religions. The academia, which is supposed to be the mainstay of the constitution of knowledge, is now a dog-eat-dog world that fosters a culture of intellectual conformity rather than that of scholarly and constructive criticism.

Even the Church has not fared any better; in fact, it is the worst of them all. The sermons and the homiletics that emanate from the houses of worship are like scud missiles and poisonous arrows let loose on presumed enemies of their cause. The clerics rain curses on those they consider obstacles to their destinies and dynasties, and the laities wish ill-will on those perceived to be hindrances to their progress and well-being.

We must pause and ask, why has so much hate saturated our world? What’s behind the unkindness that has overtaken our soul?

The white supremacist, driven to run his car through a crowd of peaceful protesters. That village witch who, through magic and divination, seeks to bring to ruin the sole benefactor of the village people. The terrorist, who in the name of religion, filmed the beheading of an infidel for the whole to watch. The common criminals who laid siege on the highways and kidnapped people for ransom. And the Ms. Debbie Downer, who seems to get her kicks from an intractable family upheaval. There is a common thread that runs through them all. Pain, deep seated pain.

A hating soul is an aching soul. Pain is the fuel that powers hate. Behind every hateful act is a painful heart. Only wounded hearts derive pleasure in inflicting wounds on other people’s hearts. The man who wishes harm on his fellow human being is a man who has a pathology deep within his soul. Schadenfreude is a disease; to enjoy someone else’s misfortune is a sickness in and of itself.

As Reverend Jonathan Carl wrote in a tweet to Donald Trump, "Our words overflow from our hearts and can quickly evidence the health or sickness of our souls. Your heart must be in a dangerous place to have such a consistent flow of defamation and disrespect towards so many."

To decorate one’s life with vengeance and cruelty is not a reflection of strength or virtue; rather, it is the result of powerful and uncontrollable impulses that only afflict weak people. He is to be pitied, the one who devices evil and plots calamity for his fellowman.

Life has no meaning without compassion; without love, life is wasted time. Our world is traumatized by the cruelty that reigns supreme in our societies. A generation is being raised who knows nothing but division. These ones are growing up in a milieu of resentment and drinking their fill from the well – our well – of furor. Those coming after us are watching as discord is being mechanized and outrage gets merchandized. It does not take a prophet or a rocket scientist to know that those who succeed us will be much worse than us. If all they know is to hate, they’ll perfect hate. And if a seed of love is not sown in the soul of the next generation, we should not expect the tree that’ll grow to produce love.

Our traumatized world needs a comforter and a healer. Instead of taking out our pain on others, and pulling them into our torturous cycle of torment, we must learn to use our pain as a roadmap that guides us to our redemption. If we want to make the most of the little time we have in this world, and make meaning of our existence, our better angels must assume control. We must join hands and link hearts to orchestrate a revolution of kindness in our world.

The world is in dire need of a tranquility of the soul. Societies must beat a retreat to a peace treaty with the One who is the author of peace and lover of concord. Those who desire health of mind must of necessity tune out the evangelists of discord and the prophets of despair; they must open up their hearts to the One who plays the soothing and calming melody of concord. The noisy gong of bitterness and clanging cymbal of division must be silenced, permanently.

In order for us to make our society a place worth living, and for us to breathe life back into our koinonia, we must hammer our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks. To create an oasis of peace out of our desert of conflict, we must put off the old rags of hate and put on a new garment of love.

For, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

And God is Love; the highest and purest of love.


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