…Firstly HUMAN…

By: Chukwukere Nwovike 

Level: 1

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Life is a mystery, and with each day I live, it only gets even more mysterious and complicated.

Growing up a little boy, I knew just a handful of things. I knew I was a boy, I knew I was little (I got to hear ‘cute, fine, small boy’ everyday). I knew dad had money. I knew every Sunday I had to be early to church, and I was always one of the first, because the day before, mum would go through my Sunday box (a box specially set aside to house my church clothes) and iron a set for Sunday, all these so I don’t go late, so I get to hear every word in Sunday school. I knew Jesus died for my sins, I knew he was the son of God, and I knew God was merciful. I knew when someone shouted “Praise the Lord” in the church, we were to reply “Hallelujah”. I knew no matter what, I had to stay till church closed. In all I knew I was an Assemblies of God member, and as far as I was concerned that was what knowing God was all about.

I went through life a little further, I then realized more things. I realized it wasn’t only in Assemblies of God, “praise the lord” was shouted to the congregation and they were to answer “Hallelujah!”. I realized there were other ‘assemblies’; the ones people go to and are not allowed to wear makeup, but pursue puritanical modes of conduct; they weren’t allowed to wear any skirt that did not fall below their knees or any blouse revealing anything close to flesh, and how they were regarded as people who took their holiness too seriously and too deep.

And, then, there were other ‘assemblies’ whose members had to be clothed in white. My mum had issues with them, she didn’t think they worshiped God, and so did every other person in church I heard talk about them. Then, the Catholics and Anglicans, they were mostly talked about together like bread and butter, I always wondered why they had a cross on their buildings, plastered to their walls or atop their spires.

“Those ones are religions on their own,” a church friend of mine had said once.

I grew up again, this time a ‘little’ big boy dabbling into philosophies. I realized even more interesting things like how I didn’t choose to be born or choose the family to be born into. I realized I wouldn’t choose when to die too. I realized Jesus wasn’t the only one people served. I realized there was Mohammed and some of his followers considered us non-Muslims infidels, or should I say they hated me, they hated Mama and Papa, they hated my sisters and yet they didn’t even know me, they didn’t even know I loved the sight of women covered in hijabs; that I loved conversations with Ibrahim, my tailor. I found out some of them believed by killing the infidels, they had a place in the afterlife, a place with seventy virgins. That was a shocking contradiction to one of the first lessons I ever learned from Sunday school.

“If they slap you, turn the other cheek.”

I found out there were those who paid no obeisance to the supernatural. They just wanted to live and die. The ones that my pastor would call ‘unbelievers’.  And there were even the ones that they called ‘Juju men’,  who worshiped deities different from mine in the villages, whose sole aim, I heard, was to make people miserable, and yet couldn’t make themselves better.  There was always a prayer session dedicated to them in church.

“They should die by fire (Holy Ghost fire) if they refused to change.”

Time again placed me in different circumstances. I realized the people in white garments who worshiped the Lord I worshiped also thought we were unbelievers. I realized there were people who went to church on Saturday and could die arguing that it was the Sabbath day and so far as they were concerned, every Sunday worshiper was going to hell, including my Pastor and I.  I realized there were some who didn’t believe in the Bible, not because they didn’t believe in the ‘bible’, but because they believed the one we used had been tampered with. I realized that words in the Bible could be given different meanings , it could be understood in different ways and everybody gave it meaning from their perspective and the rest simply followed their pastors point of view .

I realized even in the church, there was confusion, distrust and disunity; even in the church, there were the ones who didn’t want to ‘turn the other cheek when they were slapped’; who wanted to fight the ‘enemies of God’, and retaliate every form of violence against Christians.

I realized lying and stealing weren’t the only sins, I realized the list was truly infinite. It even extended to me committing immorality if I lusted after any fine female.

And after 21 years, I have realized that I would never come to a fullness of knowledge; that I would always know that I’m ignorant by discovering the same.

I have come to understand that humans can only see the number 6 as long as they stay on one side. However, going to the other side might convince you it’s actually a 9. We all are convinced of the right religion, and coincidentally the right religion seems to be whichever one we happen to practice. And so, we presume the others must be wrong.

But here’s the only thing we can be certain about: being human. Your legs, hands, shape of head or nose doesn’t make you human, your humanity does. Your beliefs are just as astonishing as your neighbor’s. But, let it show love, that’s all that counts. Show a human some humanity. You are firstly HUMAN.

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Chukwukere Nwovike is a 21 year old Nigerian freelance writer and an aspiring Novelist. He is a final year law student at Rivers state university and has written on wide range of topics for magazines and sites.

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