Beware of praises and honors
I Just Cannot Understand
By Edward Ladu Terso
Who does not want to be praised, appreciated, honored, receive awards for excellence … and the list is endless. There is nothing wrong with that. The danger lies in the manner with which such praises are showered upon and the manner in which they are received. That, I think, makes the difference. Praises and honor have the potential to bloat our ego.
You know what! I am not fond of using unfamiliar or big vocabulary. As the Nigerians say in most of their movies, “Madam, sorry, I no know big, big grammar.” I have to look up the word bloat on the Thesaurus. Hey, remember, I am targeting senior secondary school students. If they can read and understand me, then I am successful.
Other words for ‘bloat’ are “to swell up, inflate or dilate.” If you cannot understand dilate, refer to swell up. I never had the chance to be taught English by the English. I was taught English by South Sudanese, Egyptian, Indian and Italian teachers. All of them were wonderful. So, what you are reading now is a mixture of South Sudanese, Egyptian, Indian and Italian English accent. But never mind, what you want is the message. What I want is to establish communication.
Another unfamiliar word, which is a Latin derivative, is ego. Another word for it is “self, personality, self- word, self-esteem or individuality.”
Let us come back to our subject matter. Praises and honor have the potential to exaggerate, swell up, or inflate your self-worth or self-esteem,” if you are not careful. A person with a bloated ego is proud. Proud here is used in a negative sense. You can be proud of your country. This is positive. You can be proud of your parents, your teachers or employers. These are all positive ways of using the word “proud.”
A proud person could be dignified, honorable, stately, majestic, great, lordly, impressive, and noble. This is positive. The negative side of a proud person is, “big-headed, over-confident, pompous, conceited, superior, vain, and self-righteous.”
I am using the word proud here in the negative sense. Pride is the noun for the adjective proud. Pride, which is self-importance, egotism or the opposite of humility, is dangerous.
In Gen. 3:4, we read “Then the serpent (snake) said to the woman (Eve), no! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil. The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruits and ate it.”
Let us take this quote from the Jerusalem, piece by piece. “No! You will not die.” Who is who to contradict God’s command? Did I not hear our intelligent and beautiful kids singing, “When God says no, no one will say yes?” Simple! They are singing it even if they do not know the meaning now.
The truth has proved the snake, symbolic of the devil, a liar because today people die as a result of disobedience to God’s command. The disobedience was induced by the serpent. The statement of the serpent was rife with temptation. Eve was not wise enough to detect the danger inherent in that statement.
“… and you will be like gods.” Notice the small letter in the word “gods.” God is not gods. So, when Eve ate the forbidden fruit, she did not become like God but like gods, some dangerous principalities, evil spirits or habitual sinners. That is why today, we are sinful human beings, who are struggling to be converted from being disobedient to being obedient to the command of God.
The serpent is not dead. Its work is not dead. It is active among us. Like Eve, we may not see it easily. Until it has induced us to sin, we cannot be conscious of its presence. But some of us, who are vigilant, can. Let them also assist us to be vigilant to detect the head and tail of the serpent so that we can respond to its lies like Jesus, “God away satan.”
In the phrase, “… Knowing good and evil …,” consists the pain of having to make choices, call it freedom. It is dangerous to be free. You must have heard some absurd wishes like, “I wish I were a baby.” A baby enjoys the privileges of being thought about, fed, caressed, heard, taken care of, nurtured, and given all the comfort it deserves.
Perhaps Eve and Adam were like that in the Garden of Eden, in Heaven, with God. But things change when a baby grows into an adult. Adult life is one of choices between good and evil. The act of choosing requires wisdom. King Solomon got it. We are products of the choices we make in life. Those who choose wisely are enjoying the fruits of their choice today.
If you receive an award for excellence in your professional, please do not go around with the object of the award showing people how mighty, great, majestic and dignified you are. Let the people around say that. When you go it alone, you have already trapped yourself into the cage of conceited, self-proclaimed, and over-sized ego personalities. This, in itself, is self-condemnation.
When you are honored, do not allow the honor to swell your self-worth. Just be who you are. Take it as a challenge to achieve a lot more in the service of your brothers and sisters. You have seen a lot of famous people dedicating their awards to the helpless, voiceless, vulnerable and the marginalized.
In this way, they push away the honor from themselves or use the honor to draw attention to those who are supposed to receive awards for their resilience to cope with much less and sometimes nothing at all. Other Laureates donate their cash to construct schools or hospitals for the destitute populace whose children learn under trees or lack health services.
Think in terms of others. Always put God first, others and finally yourself. You must be third and always remember your position if you want to avoid the temptation to pride. The say pride is the root of all evil.
I once asked an innocent kid, “What do you want become in future after graduating from the university?” He said, “I want to be a business man.” I asked, “Why do you want to become a business man?” Again he said, “To make a lot of money.” “Why do you want to make a lot of money?” I asked. Angry, he responded, “I want to have many cars, many big, big buildings, haa! I want to be famous.”
Notice the interjection there “haa!” The kid wants to become a business man in order to become famous. One other kid wanted to become a footballer just to enjoy fame. Another one wanted to become a television anchor in order to be seen on screen like (he mentioned the name of a local television anchor, who I think is a role model for him). This is leading to fame of course.
And what is fame? Is it worth it? Let us mentor our children to make wise choices for the service of communities and society.
Fame for its sake is vanity, worthless. Fame should come indirectly as a result of setting for oneself a self-sacrificing or noble goal in life.