By Jude Atupulazi
We are suddenly in the era of suicides once again; something we thought, had ended in the days of our forefathers. In the past one month, at least four known suicide cases had taken place across the country and all of them involved young people who are supposed to enjoy life the most. But all of them depicted people frustrated with life in a country that promises so much but gives so little.
And we had all reacted to those suicides in different ways, but mostly, many felt outraged by the actions of the suicides. (Mind you, a suicide is also a person who commits suicide).
To the outraged Nigerians, the victims were cowards, fools and demented fellows who were weak, stupid and crazy enough to kill themselves.
I was also part of the army of the outraged, anyway. I was outraged because I believe that no matter how bad things can be, taking one's life is an extremist action, especially when the Bible tells us that doing so is a sin, meaning too that those who do so will end up in hell fire. Doesn't that therefore mean that such people have merely jumped out from the fry pan straight into the fire?
But then, one is not unmindful of the fact that many of these suicides could have been saved had we been more human. Yes, we now live in a world where our humanity is daily being called to question. A lot of people are frustrated owing to emotional, financial and other problems and all they need sometimes is care and a show of concern by their families, neighbours, friends, colleagues. But they soon discover that such are not forthcoming and their frustrations deepen. But when they take that drastic action, they are slayed by people.
However, it is necessary to ask certain questions of those who condemn the actions of the suicides. And chief of them is how they have tried to help those in pain; any kind of pain, by trying to ameliorate that pain. Such a pain can come in the form of your poor widowed neighbour not being able to pay the fees of her children in school; it can come in the form of your poor neighbour living in a dilapidated house and exposed to the elements while all you do is throw parties and make public donations where you will be clapped for; it can come in the form of discriminating against people at work, in appointments and in admissions. It can come in the form of selling fake products to people who consume them and die. Worse still, it can come in the form of you, being a lecturer, failing students simply because they failed to give you money or sleep with you.
The above are things which some so-called Christians do and yet go to church every Sunday to sing, clap and dance. Some of them don't wait till Sunday to go to church; they virtually sleep there.
Indeed, it has never ceased to amaze me how, despite the number of people I see in church every Sunday and despite the number of churches we have and despite the number of pastors that emerge every day, our world is still filled with all manner of horrors. Is it that we have turned religion into a show? Is it that we have turned it into a club? Is it that we have turned it into a money spinner? If not, why is the world so bad?
Coming home to our own Church, it amazes me that despite the number of people who take the Holy Communion every Sunday, all the bad things are still taking place and perpetrated by the same people who queue up to take the Holy Communion. Indeed, it is as if going for the Holy Communion is now a way of advertising our ''saintliness''. It is as if it has become the best way of showing off the dresses we wear or the best way for young girls to attract husbands, especially during December time, when expected suitors are home.
Well, one thing I know is that if one third; just one third, of those who take the Holy Communion every Sunday know what they are receiving, our society will be a far better place. But I suspect that the majority are unaware of what they are receiving. In case they are, let me remind them this: at the point when we take the Holy Communion, it is expected that should we die there and then, we will not just make heaven, but almost become saints.
This therefore means that at that point, we are truly sorry for our sins and are truly repentant, having confessed and done penance, and above all, determined not to sin again. But then we know that many of us are not feeling that way. Cases abound of people who harbour serious grudges against others but still step out at the ring of the bell to take the Holy Communion. They take it and go back home and continue not to be on talking terms with their ''enemies''.
We know cases where young girls (even women) go to church from the homes of their boyfriends but will still take the Holy Communion. After that, they return to those people. If you ask them they will tell you that they did not kill anybody.
We are aware of cases where wives neglect their husbands and kids at home but will be the first to take Communion. These women often disappear for days from home and appear at crusade grounds as if their primary responsibility is at crusade grounds, rather than in their homes. They don't care if the family has eaten or not; yet they rush to take the Holy Communion.
We have husbands who leave their responsibilities at home and empty the contents of their wallets at bars. They don't care if their children's school fees are paid or not; yet they belong to parish councils and will not hesitate to shoot out their tongue, like frogs snapping up a prey, every Sunday at the altar to take the Holy Communion.
These people may be pointing fingers at those who committed suicide; not knowing that they also do so. Indeed, as long as they do those things I've enumerated, their actions are tantamount to committing suicide every Sunday when they take the Holy Communion unworthily
Over time, I have come to find that we as a people are far from being as kindhearted as we want to project ourselves to be. Indeed, the average Nigerian is not a philanthropist but an opportunist. Their show of philanthropy is all about showmanship. They can only help you when they are sure many people will hear it and applaud them. And when they do help you when people are not there, they will let the whole wide world hear it.
This is why some people who have such ''philanthropists'' would rather starve to death or die from their ailments than meet such people for help.
We are like these fake philanthropists because we have lost sight of the essence of Christianity. We have lost the human being in us. We have lost the communal life for which our forefathers were known. We have all become solitary individuals looking after ourselves only. We no more live for each other and thus those who ordinarily would have benefited from inter-personal relationship are left alone to face their miseries; to bear their burdens alone.
But I tell you, for any poor widow who dies from sorrow because she cannot find food to eat; cannot find money to send her kids to school; cannot buy clothing to safeguard her against the elements; woe betide you as a neighbour who, rather than help out, prefer to throw parties and take meaningless titles. For you, if you belong to that category, you may not have killed physically but every time you take the Holy Communion on Sunday, you are committing suicide because you are taking it unworthily. Your case is even worse than that of those whose suicides you read in papers or on social media.
I'm sure if people knew the import of taking the Holy Communion unworthily, and given the things we see people do every day, the number of those lining up to take the Holy Communion on Sundays would be very drastically reduced. Perhaps our priests will do well to once again harp seriously against this phenomenon of committing suicide on Sundays.