Age of excuses
IF only I had been gifted with one or combined nationalities of these nations – the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Britain, China or even lowly Singapore – I would have by now been an oil sheikh with inexhaustible legacies, an almost invincible military adept beyond any irritating insecurity threat, a hedonist cowboy with an insightful ambition of lordship over the rest of the timid world or as a rare Hans-breed with a firm foot in the world economy. Just imagine if I had been born as a Mediterranean Prince with fabulous inheritance or as an English for-real-and-not-endlessly-waiting-heir apparent royalty or as the only son of the reigning American president; there would have been nothing beyond my human reach.
On a different note, if only I had come in the might and adroitness of the lion, the bishop of the forest, which fears none, yet is dreaded by all living beings or as the free air which none can do without. Or as the mass of water which is said to cover over 70 per cent of the earth surface. If only and if only…the underbelly of all excuses which nourishes the procrastinations of the cowardly and indecisive lot and achieves next to nothing in the end.
Nevertheless, excuses are as ubiquitous as the breathing air and wherever abound serial features like failure, inertia, immaturity and sort; so readily do excuses of all hypes coexist. In fact, back to its original offshoots, excuses started with man’s first father, Adam, who on being caught on the wrong footing of eating the forbidden fruit initiated the blame game by accusing his collaborating partner-in-transgression, Eve, and his Creator. Instead of owning up to being guilty as ‘charged’ and seek forgiveness, which might have been freely granted, Adam took a dive for the valley of excuses on the one hand and blame-shifting on the other and ever since has man plunged further and deeper in the abyss of excuses.
Obviously, excuses strive the more among the cowardly, spineless lot, because, like that sage of old was once quoted to have said: ‘cowards die many times’, so it is for the invertebrate person who weakeningly turns away from the slightest challenge. It is for these sundry excuses that make a supposed brave one to turn tails in the face of opposition. Therefore, fluid and quite indeterminate are the contending variables in excuses that what makes a man to be indeed a man today may inversely turn around to unmake him the next moment.
So sweeping are excuses that no age, race, creed or status is spared. Or what does one make of the average student who, having failed an examination and aptly in ‘self-defence,’ claims it is because of the examiner’s ‘hatred’ while on a good day the same fellow gleefully launches into some self-adulation of his wits of intelligence! Or, of a shameless husband who having been rubbished and finally emasculated with a bitter divorce blames the wife for his woes? Whereas, like someone some time ago contended that for every set of 10 unsuccessful marriages, the husband has the major blame for at least 3/4 of it for the singular reason that it is the man that is supposedly in the driving seat and can decidedly make trips accidents-free.
But for excuses, the world as it is now would have been on a better setting as castles and empires loftily built in the hearts, and mere wishes of men reside on the Excuses’ Avenue. It is like the Trojan horse meeting its appropriate match in the Arabian stallion; sweat for sweat, wits for wits, power for power and strength for strength. For excuses, it is high-up today and deep-down tomorrow and it does not really matter since the pit of excuses never runs dry or tires of the whys, whats, whens, wheres and hows set-goals or given promises can no longer be fulfilled.
On a far-flung stretch, it is because of flimsy excuses, perhaps out of blissful ignorance, that has reputedly made man in entirety not to have used up to 10 per cent of his optimal (mental) capacity of God’s provision, since Creation, even by the best geniuses in all known fields of human endeavours. This issue of underutilisation can be equated with an ageless folklore of a pen owner’s encounter while feeding a peep of chickens. Placing a full bowl of feeds in the pen’s central point, the owner just splashed a few handfuls around, to catch his birds’ attention, leaving the full feed in its place. What followed replicates the cutthroat-rivalry among and between human beings out of sheer myopia and needless strifes as the chickens engagingly went after each other over a splash of feeds when in fact a greater portion of what was needed was left all alone!
Ditto is it with man in entirety, who obviously bent on being the best, over and above others in all endeavours, spares no spite or resource in the ancient ploy of bring-all-else-down syndrome whereas what nature has provided and in fact has in reserve for humanity is unimaginably limitless. Just take a cursory purview around especially on the basic issues of life (i.e. what to eat, where to live, when and how to be why one wants to be according to one’s craving) are, a priori, a settled matter on the virtual altars of patience, contentment, integrity and good name-referrals.
Indeed, in this dispensation of dogs-eating-dogs, nothing can be more nonsensical and annoying to the tribe of modern-day liberals and can’t-be-bothered moralists to be told what to do as they readily reel out tons of excuses on why their chosen path (of self destruction?) are the appropriate route of thinking and living. Not for them is that time-tested dictum of the present being a better option of the past while the future has a far better and more excellent way of doing it right. In this age of excuses, anything can passably go for any other thing so long as none plays any emphasis on any thing called virtue. After all, what belongs to all belongs to none in ownership and none can lay any claim to anything since life itself operates on a fleeting void; it is then like being in a typical animal kingdom vis-à-vis state of nature where life is unpredictably brutish, nasty, short and hellish.
In a broader sense, man resorts to hollow excuses when all else fails and since they who are flatly down fear no further fall, it follows by implication that likes attract likes just as virtues dwell in virtues so too do vices breed vices even in worse, deathly scenarios. That our contemporary setting has grown so used and quite unperturbed with increasingly shocking vices may be because this age of excuses characteristically offers escape routes to any existing vice, no matter how devastating, and since the element of surprise has been deadened in our prevailing psyche; hardly does anything matter any longer. What the world at large now celebrates as civilisation, on deeper analysis, is complicated decadence on display. For instance, the days of once-treasured virtues which birthed the socialisation process of civility, respect, civic obligations, societal reckoning are long gone and discarded. One recurring question that man has evasively failed to tackle so far is: for how long can vices contend with virtues, darkness with illumination, bad with good, mediocrity with merit?
If anything, the price of lapsing to the dark and close-ended alley of mere excuses is so exacting, torturing, needless and yet so avoidable. In the realm of honour and integrity, the reigning hallmarks are humility, meekness (i.e. strength under control), fellow-feeling and altruistic leadership, loyal but assertive citizenship…on and on until excuses are asphyxiated. On a side-by-side contrasting note, excuses have no breeding ground in an environ where creative ideas freely contend, leadership codes operate on seeming servanthood ethics of binding societal conventions, equality of all before an impartial justice system, equitable distribution of available resources, a visionary focus of those-that-matter on a futuristically better society.
Undeniably, no nation or individual is insulated against the endless excuses of this age which tend to weary attempted efforts to excel in set-goals. Even at that, whatsoever springs from the nature of man that acts as barrier can be captured, nurtured and, over time, harnessed to the ultimate benefits of all. In the order of animate and inanimate creatures, man has been made to reign and rule over all else owing partly to the endowment of his brain power.
At a crucial point in his evolving stages, man was once quoted to have kicked against his Creator on why his abounding issues were so complicated and unassailable and in an amusing response, God reputedly charged that part of why man was mentally gifted was to be creatively engaged (i.e. provide solutions to abounding problems) and not to bother his Creator like an invertebrate weakling. Hence there is no singular or sane excuse why man should elect to dwell in excuses, irrespective of the circumstances; situation or condition because the tougher the obstacle, the sweeter and more enduring is the reward of excellent performance.
Just reflect on nations that sprang out of initial nothingness or virtual hopelessness–the United States, Israel, Singapore — or remarkable individuals who sacrificed their all–Jawaharlal Nehru, Lee Kuan Yew, Nelson Mandela and conscientiously turned out to be motivating builders in their environ. Given the prevailing oddities and seeming barriers they were faced with, they ought to have recoiled in the existing excuses of their era, but they resolutely went all out to do just the needful. By this act of working against the then tide of excuses, today, history and the world-at-large fondly remember and elevate them in high reckoning.