Potentials Of Grace, Power And Pride: The Quoted Verse Of Song, Humility

10 March 2013

By Abdul-Warees Solanke 

He that is down needs fear no fall

He that is low no pride

He that is humble

Ever shall have God to be his guide 

 I am just trying to make a meaning out of the above verse of song that I learnt some 40 years ago at Abadina School, University of Ibadan where I had my primary education. Is it that we all must be down and low when we have the reason and the talents to be high and shine?    Is it possible to be humble in an environment that you must always show your face, raise up your head and make your voice heard for you to be considered relevant and not be dumped in the gutters if you have the grace and the gifts to make a difference or to be proud of?

Yet, each of us all has something to be proud of. It is our grace. Our grace is in our individual nature and worth, our skills and talents, our intellect and accomplishments, our positions or stations in life, the beauty of our spouses and the bounties of children that are our blessings. But there is a saying that if you have it, you flaunt it. That is, there is nothing bad in showing off what we have, according to that saying. We should rejoice or revel in our blessings.

Unfortunately, the more we celebrate our endowments, the more we are considered to be proud or arrogant by another person outside our frame. Pride or arrogance however, might not be deliberate or intentional on the part of the endowed or the gifted. It might not even be innate in the one we see as proud. But because the one seeing him in that prism is deficient in or lacks that grace, he considers him proud, out of envy or jealousy.

From this dialectics, it seems to me that the one that shows off will always be a victim of some sort, if showing off what you have is perceived by those who do not have it as arrogance or pride. Or, if what or how we celebrate or exalt ourselves denigrates the other that is not as fortunate who therefore reacts to our attitude in disproportionate and negative measures that can clip wings or cut to size. Could this be the reason for the saying: "Pride goes before a fall?" 

So, when we are blessed or opportune, what should be the right attitude? How should the accomplished and the gifted celebrate their endowment and achievement? Is it by exuding an arrogance of superiority?  Is it by partying in owambe way, making nonsense of naira and dollar in the way some rain it on musicians as they shower them with superlative praises? Is it by publicity or promotion and undue exultation on the newspaper pages? Is it by multiplying in the symbols of success amassing all sorts of jeeps and limousines or erecting jaw-dropping mansions that no one will be able to maintain after their death, to the amazement of others? Is it by stupefying indulgences and revelries at seven star hotels, casinos and clubs? Is it by imposition of unattainable standards on others to prove worth or superiority? Or, is it by supercilious attitude to humiliate the disadvantaged? Is it by power show, power dressing?

Of cause, without adopting some of these ways, we are not likely to be recognized for who we are, what we have and where we are. We are not likely to be seen as powerful. Unfortunately, there is just a thin divide between pride and power. Therefore, if pride is synonymous with power, there are other realities of power, taken from the aphorism, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The first of these realities is that power accentuates ambition as man is almost always insatiable in his quests. The second reality is power tends to disconnect because the more we grow in power, the more we are likely to look down on others. Another reality is that power, as wine, has intoxicating potentials if we are soaked in it or we are unnecessarily showered adoration for it.   Similarly, it has the potentials to enslave the one who wields it if it is so much and he dreads losing it.

In all these, we do everything to multiply our grace if we revel in the accolades that it brings us and fashion all weapons to retain our power if we dread losing it to someone else. But the tragedy of this is that in multiplying our grace or protecting our power and prestige, we may not know when we cross the bounds of reason to crush the pride of others. Sometimes, we consciously or deliberately suffocate and even annihilate our perceived enemies and  real  competitors. We scheme and dribble. We deploy all forms of arsenals: intimidation and coercion and with sleight of hand. We are blind to the interest, survival and pride of the other. The end justifies the means, we are likely to say. 

In this immersion in intoxicating show of eminence, we are however likely to forget that man does not really have absolute power, nor is he immune from dangers that deflate pride, daggers that stab dreams or calamities that incinerate wealth. Many who are not conscious of this reality actually play God! They are almost always beyond reproach and are also unapproachable. They are too tall to stoop low for others. To them, humility is a human frailty. Meekness is a weakness. Modesty isn't a virtue. Patience is a feminine attribute. Compassion is a vice. Brashness is a beauty.

But when these are the signals or the fine points that signposts a man, he is pride or arrogance in its extreme. So, if all sing his praise in his sight, they all tear his garments behind. If all agree with his views on all issues, they condemn his position out of his sight. Unfortunately, the ultimate tragedy of this character is that he finds no helper in his moment of tribulation. "It serves him right", his detractors, many of them his beneficiaries and praise singers, are likely to say. Many men of conceit actually die lonely, in penury and shame. There are kings who committed suicide at the height of their glory and presidents who were dragged and defaced when they slip from power. There are billionaires chained and imprisoned because their wealth could not redeem them when they fell from grace.

So, what should be the attitude if we are gifted or attain power and eminence?  How should we conduct ourselves so that we do not dissolve in infamy after the grace that we have enjoyed? I think the answer is contained in the quoted verse of song, humility. But there is also the need to recognize that everlasting grace comes from the most high, to whom the grace should be dedicated through gratitude, praise and service to Him and humanity. The manifestation of this is in sacrificing for others, especially secretly, and wiping their tears in times of need, consoling them in their moments of tribulations and lifting the low high so that more can have comfort and happiness as we enjoy in our grace and power. 

ABDUL-WAREES  SOLANKE B.Sc. Mass Comm (Lagos); Master of Public Policy (Brunei Darussalaam)  Head, Voice of Nigeria Training Centre, c/o VON Transmitting Station, Ikorodu, Lagos. Formerly the special assistant to the Director General, VON, he is the 2007/2008 Commonwealth Broadcasting Association scholar in Public Policy at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam,  korewarith@yahoo.com 08090585723



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