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14th January 2020
Most people want to be commended, or valued, or “blessed” after they have done a good deed. Most of us want to be recognised after we have done something helpful. This is perfectly normal, and it is us being human.
Other people though, live at a higher level. One of them was Kaspar Nützel. Very few have heard of him, but millions know about his champion the monk Professor Martin Luther who officially started off the Protestant Reformation in Europe when in 1517 he reportedly nailed his Ninety-five Theses, a theological argument to the door of Wittenburg Church. Kaspar Nützel was a nobleman from Nuremberg in Germany. Luther’s Ninety-five Theses had been written in Latin, a language that only scholars and not the ordinary citizen could understand. Without being asked, but with the belief that the Ninety-five Theses was good information that should be publicised widely, Nützel translated the document into German the people’s language, then since the printing press had been invented nearly sixty years before, he also had copies of it made. If not for what Nützel QUIETLY did without bringing attention upon himself, it is unlikely that Luther’s Ninety-five Theses would have had the reach and influence that it did.
Had it been today, and in Nigeria, that Martin Luther wrote his Latin Ninety-five Theses, the general response would have been a scornful, “Mtchew…. What is all this big grammar!” or “What does it concern me?”, and that would have been the end of it for information that has the potential to transform peoples’ lives for good. Furthermore, a Nigerian who has the ability to translate the Latin document would not do so saying, “Why should I help Prof Luther? What’s in it for me? He just wants to make a name for himself, so I won’t help him! Let him help himself!” Such responses are the lower level of being.
There is that Nigerian way of doing things that can be summed up as “Nigerian Culture” which is based on SELF, focused on SELF and is concerned near exclusively with SELF. Nigerian Culture produces the kind of Nigeria that we can all see and experience (and that our young people seek to escape from). However an Alternative Culture is available for those who want to do the right thing, and to do the right thing the right way. The Alternative Culture wants what is good for COMMUNITY as well as self, and is firmly community-focused.
If he was here today and a Nigerian, Kaspar Nützel would have been an example of a man living by the principles of the Alternative Culture. He had the skill to read Latin so he recognised there was something GOOD for society in what Martin Luther had written in his Theses. Nützel then decided to contribute to society’s welfare by applying his skills and resources to improve the chances for the COMMUNITY to benefit from what Luther had started. This type of reasoning is living life at a higher level. Rather than the PRIMITIVE “What’s in it for ME?” orientation, that keeps a country corrupt and regressing, the alternative orientation asks, “What’s in it for my community?” and “How can my community benefit from my skills, and I will too since I am part of the community?”
Reader, do some research and you will find that no “great” man anywhere was able to achieve good for the world without a number of OTHERS who played their assisting role along the way. Some of these others we may know, but many remain nameless. Living by the tenets of the Alternative Culture means either searching for good causes, or when they come your way, having the ready mindset of GETTING INVOLVED. Not for personal gain. Not for recognition or fame. But getting involved because it is a GOOD cause, and assisting a good cause is the right thing to do! You become a sort of link on a chain that brings good to the community, and even to the world.
There are many good causes out there. Local, national and global. Some may need you to be personally involved, others may be by simply signing online petitions (eg change.org website), forwarding on a WhatsApp post, liking and supporting a Facebook page, retweeting posts on Twitter, etc. Some may be about humans, others about animals, plants or the environment. There is no limit at all to the number of good causes that any individual can get involved with. This way of viewing life through a COMMUNITY lens, wanting to be able to use your life in the service of others and of the world is an Alternative Culture.
When it comes to employment, rather than being obsessed with thoughts of “I want MONEY. I need MONEY for ME”, your alternative thought pattern would be, “How can I serve others with a product/service and make some money by doing it WELL?” The FOCUS is on SERVING OTHERS not on gaining MONEY FOR SELF. When you serve others well, money will follow.
Living by the principles of the Alternative Culture is SATISFYING to the soul and those who live by it do not seek personal recognition for the good deeds that they do. If it comes fine. If it does not come, that is fine too. Furthermore, in helping another person reach a goal that is GOOD for the community, they do not become bitter if they are not recognised or if they do not make money, because their FOCUS is on getting that GOOD thing done for the COMMUNITY. Not on SELF. Not on FAME. Not on FORTUNE.
Every Nigerian has a free will to choose to live for SELF, or to live for COMMUNITY. Community-mindedness involves being interested in ISSUES, programmes and plans that improve community, and country. With the alternative perspective, supporting good programmes becomes the focal point, not the person who may be leading (or who started) a particular programme. So, should the leader become absent, the programme will still be continued because it is a GOOD thing for the COMMUNITY.
First century AD Rabbi Hillel the Elder is attributed as saying, “If not now, when? If not you, who?” By being involved in a good cause your name and deeds may never be known to others (except to your Creator), but you yourself will know that you contributed to the success of that venture, so you can smile having assisted a good cause!
This post was written by Ndidi Uwechue.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.