Benevolence in practice
Sir: Brotherliness may take different forms. It is a moral concept that flows from spiritual source. Call it an idea or a principle. There is brotherly love which begets various advantages. Brotherliness is the foundation upon which the super-structure of human existence rests. It is when there is the feeling of affection that one expects a brother to show kindness. Affection may be genuine or fraudulently pretentious.
Students of comparative religious knowledge can attest that like fluid, brotherliness permeates all faiths: Christianity, Islam and indigenous beliefs. In Christianity, its doctrine teaches the adherents: “Be your brother’s keeper. Always give alms to the poor.” Giving alms transcends the usual stipends to the beggars on the road side or at the gates of the religious houses every week. Alms-giving indicates that on a larger scale, the affluent must be helpful to the indigent. In St Luke, Chapter 18, verse 22: ‘‘Sell all that you have, and distribute to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven.’’ In Luke, Chapter 10, verses 27 to 37, ‘‘Love thy neighbour as yourself’’ as enacted by the Good Samaritan journeying from Jerusalem to Jericho and was compassionate with the victim of violent robbery. Today, how many of our wealthy Christians embrace this example?
In Islam, the tenet also encourages being brother’s keepers- Qur’an Chapter 2 verse 177: ‘‘It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards the East or West ; but it is righteousness –To believe in -Allah and the last day and the Angels and the Book and the messengers; to spend of your substance out of love for Him, for your kin, orphans, for the needy, the wayfarer, those who ask, for the ransom, of slaves; be steadfast in prayer, give zakat to fulfill the contract which you have made and to be patient in pain or suffering and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.”
In the realms of indigenous religion, Ifa, (Orunmila) is the pivot around which other gods or (oracles) thrive. It recognises the spirit of brotherliness-brother’s keepers, as exemplified in the Odu Ejiogbe. The odu narrative stipulates that three personalities were dispatched to the Earth by Eleda (Creator): Oninure (Benevolent), the generous who was showering kind deeds to peoples, including the giving of alms to the poor, followed by two other Malevolents – Eke and Odale (the Dishonest and Traitor). Of the three, only the Oninure (Benevolent) was carrying out the directives of the Creator, caring for the helpless, whilst the horrendously ill-mannered Eke and Odale blatantly declined to serve humanity. Neither of the two was generous with his endowed resources. On the day of judgment, according to Odu Ifa, Ejiogbe, the trio appeared before the Almighty Creator. The Benevolent-Oninure was accorded befitting honour, whilst Eke and Odale, (Dishonest and Traitor) were condemned to fire and brimstone. Then and there, it became manifest that good or bad, man will certainly reap what he sows on the earth.
The foregoing expositions aim their punches at the self-centeredness of our leaders.
This reminds me of a late colleague’s weekly column in the defunct Morning Post newspaper: “Comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comforted: If the different shades of religious persuasions, including the indigenous one, enjoin the followers to imbibe the spirit of benevolence to humanity, why was it that on Radio Lagos, for several weeks, an advertisement consistently seeking financial assistance for a patient with hole in the heart received no response? With abundant religious houses in our midst, claiming to be monotheists, and preaching the sermons steeped in the messages of love for humanity, no individual or organisation has come forward to offer financial assistance. What a patent and manifest display of man’s inhumanity to man!
Oshisada, a veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu, Lagos.