Muniini K. Mulera
A New Year’s resolution that is worth making
Posted Monday, December 30 2013 at 02:00
Like many people, you will make New Year’s resolutions. Just as in years past, you will not keep most of them. Our human weaknesses tend to interfere with our best intentions.
However, here is one resolution you can make and keep, with God’s help. To do so, you need to recognise your mortality, Tingasiga. You, like me, will die sooner than you think. Humans have not yet figured out the formula for immortality this side of Heaven.
The verified records show that Jeanne Calment of France, who lived longer than anyone else, managed to hang on for only 122 years and 164 days. She died in 1997. This year alone brought news of the death of Jiroemon Kimura of Japan, the runner up in the longevity race that died on June 12, at the age of 116 years and 54 days.
Most of us will be very lucky to make it to the global average life expectancy at birth of 70 years. The average Ugandan life expectancy at birth is 54 years for males and 57 years for females. We are here today, gone tomorrow.
Those with power, especially those with weapons of control, repression and suppression, seem to forget that theirs is a futile pursuit. Like many absolute rulers before them, they will soon be history. The biological clock ticks relentlessly towards the grave.
The question is how today’s rulers wish to be remembered. Nelson Mandela, called home at age 95, will be remembered by many generations to come with the fondness and reverence reserved for people like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
Like these men, Mandela made a positive difference to his people, and saved his country from a bloodbath. He, like Washington and Gandhi, did not consider himself indispensible.
Like them he rejected political power that would have been his for much longer had he had the desire to rule South Africa. Instead, like Washington, he did his part and took his leave, while yet alive and full of great ideas.
You and I Tingasiga, much smaller men who do not qualify to be mentioned in the same breath as Mandela, should emulate him and the other great people of history, discharging our duties with humility born of unequivocal acknowledgement of our transient assignment on Earth.
Human history is like a giant Circus Wheel of Death, upon which we climb at a point in time and fall off 70 years later, give or take a few decades. It is not negotiable.
We should resolve to view the work we do in similar terms. Whether president or peasant, whether doctor or doorman, whether parliamentarian or priest, we are tiny specks on a wheel that has rotated for millennia and will continue to do so for billions of years, unless the Lord Jesus returns sooner than that.
Our duty is to be the best and to do the best during our brief stay on that wheel. Our duty is to resist the temptation to misuse our power and responsibilities while riding the wheel.
I always feel sorrier for the rulers and their policemen who beat and tear gas fellow citizens than I do for their victims. They act as though theirs is a permanent stay on the Wheel of Death when, like millions of their predecessors, they will be extruded into infamy by the merciless death that must come to us all.
The president or prime minister who threatens, manipulates or lies to his countrymen in the hope of maintaining his grip on power will be thrown off the wheel as surely as were other life-presidents and dead immortals who once ruled their lands.
Lest we deceive ourselves that it is only the politicians and wielders of guns who have betrayed the Golden Rule, let this column affirm that Uganda and most of Africa has been betrayed by the collective failure of citizens to live up to God’s command.
Greed and selfishness have ruined the dreams of those who fought for our freedom. Our only way out is to abide by what Jesus taught during His Sermon on the Mount, reported in Matthew 7: 12. “ So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
This, Tingasiga, is the New Year’s resolution that I urge you and I to make and keep. It requires us to abandon the wide and broad gate that leads to destruction, and to take the small gate and narrow road that lead to life. It is a resetting of our personal and group moral compasses and mindset that, we hope, will offer Uganda a chance of survival and sustainable peaceful progress.
In Philippians 4:8, the Apostle Paul offers us a roadmap to achieving this resolution: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
May the Lord grant you peace and success in 2014 as you seek to do unto others as you would they do unto you.