#ThoughtivityOpinion: On Moral Guardians and The Hero’s Journey

Hello folks, thanks for joining me on my opinion space for this week. Sometime last year I wrote a piece about how human beings seem to be suckers for pain and suffering. Since then I have been paying a little more attention to the issue, and I have come to realize that not only do people seem to actually enjoy pain, they actually feel that other people have to endure suffering and pain too in order to have opinions about life. This is a terrible attitude to have, and that is why I have decided to share a few thoughts on the issue. However, in the process of putting thoughts to paper, I realized that I had more to say on the issue than I originally imagined and the post became longer than I envisaged. Thus I decided that the piece will have to come in two parts. So here is the first part of the piece. Strap yourself into something comfortable and enjoy it.

Some weeks ago, American rapper and member of American Rap group Migos, Offset announced his engagement to rapper /”former”stripper/reality show star Cardi B. The announcement, like everything Cardi B has been up to in the last year, created a buzz of conversation online especially on twitter. While a cursory glance at the trend of conversation revealed that majority of the people were happy for the couple, however digging deeper soon revealed that a group of people weren’t happy bunnies with the announcement. The source of their indignation is how anyone would want to marry an “immoral” “hoe” stripper like Cardi B, while many “faithful” women who have tried to keep themselves from premarital sex/sexual sin in general, can’t find men to marry them. Then a few days after that, British Nigerian boxer Anthony Joshua used Nigerian musician Wizkid’s Ojuelegba as part of his ringside music in his fight with Carlos Takam. Again the responses were largely positive, as most people felt happy that a high level sportsman like Joshua can identify with the country of his birth with such pride like that. Yet again another brigade of indignant Nigerians emerged to complain that Joshua isn’t as passionate about Nigeria as he is trying to portray, and that his identification with his Nigerian roots is a PR gimmick to endear himself to Nigerians. A particular point of their grouse is that if he really wants to be a Nigerian, he should have stayed behind to endure the “suffering” that an average Nigerian goes through instead of running off to the United Kingdom. I could go on and on with more examples of this “enduring suffering must lead to reward” complex, but I’ll stop on these two for now.

That brings me to the essence of today’s piece, and it is to for all of us to realize that being a good human being who endures “restrictive” rules because you want to be a good member of a community does not mean you are entitled to some form of reward for enduring said rules. It doesn’t give you the right to be jealous of those, who you feel, refuse to obey those rules, yet are getting those rewards that you feel you deserve. It certainly isn’t a good reason to feel like you have lost at life. As individuals and as a society, it is time we stop seeing some things as reward for good behavior. Until we do that, we are going to continue to breed generations of unhappy (with themselves and with others) people, who are discontented with life because they have their priorities, and what they consider signs of happiness, all screwed up.

The issue of whether it was society that influenced religion on the concept of suffering leading to reward, or vice versa is up for debate. Whatever the case may be, the concept has certainly become ingrained in our individual and collective subconscious. It is the rationale behind “the hero’s journey”, which is a common concept in literature. The notion that a human being must get through several difficulties before they finally achieve their reward in line with GOD’S curse on Adam in Genesis that “from your toil you shall eat”. It is, perhaps, the rationale for the often quoted verse of the bible “He who endures to the end shall be saved. It thus stands to reason that because as human beings we see ourselves as the heroes of the story of our lives, we have come to accept that obeying and enduring rules that keep some of our natural impulsive tendencies in check is part of the journey we have to undergo, in order to become better human beings.

Because we have come to see this mindset as normal, we (and by that I mean all human beings regardless of gender or race) tend to feel upset when we see people who  did (do) not obey the same “restrictive” rules we have to endure yet enjoy the things we aspire to. To us that person is has taken a shortcut through the hero’s journey and “made our ‘suffering’ cheap.” For example, a lot of people regard marriage as something for women who have tried their best to be virtuous, who have refused to share their bodies with other people but have kept it whole for the one person they will be with for the rest of their lives. For those people, someone like Cardi B has refused to obey those rules, to trav the hero’s journey the proper way yet she continues to enjoy the same rewards. Ditto for Anthony Joshua. He doesn’t get to endure the “suffering” that Nigerians who live Nigeria endure, yet he gets to call himself a Nigerian while enjoying comforts that most Nigerians can only dream of.


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