By TIM AKANO
Let’s begin today’s discourse with a sexy but philosophical quiz. Which of the following best describes the meaning of life?
(a) Life is a battle
(b) Life is a mystery
(c) Life is a stage
(d) Life is a game
(e) Life is vanity
Answer: (d) Life is a game
Contrary to the general belief, life is not a battle, because unlike the jumbo jungle of the Animal Kingdom, there is a modicum of order in chaos with Homo sapiens. Man’s major battle is within – the struggle for self-mastery.
For instance, at the root of the on-going Russia-Ukraine needless war lies leadership failure. Both leaders are guilty of recklessness: Putin’s reckless ambition in trying to resuscitate the dry bones of the defunct USSR. Zelensky’s reckless confidence in the western military assistance promissory note, which has exposed 41 million Ukrainians to an existential threat. As I write, pen in hand, the two nations are in avoidable ruins, one militarily, both economically due to leadership rascality. It is a battle of choice.
Similarly, life can’t be a mystery since no one doubts the authenticity of the laws of gravity, relativity and nature. The law of seed time and harvest time is real and timeless.
To describe life as vanity is absolutely unfair to the Creator. Does that mean creation was an exercise in futility or a waste of time, space and energy? No.
Life is a game: carefully calibrated, purpose-driven and governed by certain immutable laws of nature.
Every new baby comes with its own truth. The truth inside of it only requires proper guidance for it to discover it by itself as its gift to the world. As a new gardener in nature’s beautiful garden, its examination is to identify the plots meant for it to cultivate and the species of plants to nurture.
Nelson Mandela’s message was South Africa’s liberation. He delivered credibly. But the credit is not for Mandela alone; the credit belongs to the people in Mandela’s ecosystem: the entire chain — the womb that, instead of aborting him, conceived him; the father who put him in school; the spiritual instructors who taught him the right leadership values early in life – forgiveness, bravery and long-suffering – which he masterfully deployed to save South Africa from plunging into a failed state; the wives who didn’t talk him out of the dangerous struggle; the drivers and pilots who didn’t crash his cars and airplanes; the cooks who didn’t poison him; the school teachers who didn’t kill his self-confidence; the medical team who watched over his health; foreign supporters like Cuba’s President Fidel Castro who provided the much-needed logistics for the struggle, coupled with thousands of comrades and freedom fighters who fought alongside Mandela and paid the ultimate price for the freedom.
The roof is not the house, even though it is the most visible. Mandela is the “roof”; however, millions of people who pushed the envelope of freedom behind the scenes didn’t come to this world in vain.
The life of Thomas Edison, whose initial research led to the breakthrough in electricity, an invention that has made life so much more productive and cool, cannot be summed up to a life of vanity. Therefore, purpose rather than prosperity, power or popularity is the only true measure of success. There is a purpose for every life, which could be small but as significant as being the teacher, mother or cook to the next Elon Musk.
The stories of Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs are quite instructive at this juncture. Jeff Bezos’ biological father was Ted Jorgensen, a notorious community drunkard. He drove out Jeff when he was barely one year old together with his mother Jackie. Jackie later got married to Migues Bezos, a Cuban who adopted the little boy and named him Jeff Bezos. Migues and Jackie dutifully raised Jeff Bezos who went on to emerge as the world’s wealthiest man in 2018 with a current net worth of over $200 billion. In 2015, Jeff’s biological father died miserably, unsung and without setting his eyes on Jeff Bezos. He failed the purpose test. Conversely, Jackie and Migues delivered their message: nurturing the truth in Jeff who went ahead to conquer the e-commerce world with Amazon.
Similarly, Steve Jobs’ biological parents were Jandali Abdulfattah, a Syrian Muslim, and Joanne Schieble, an American Christian. The unmarried couple, both aged 23, gave birth to a boy and dropped him off for adoption immediately the baby came out of the mother’s womb. Mr Paul Reinhold Jobs and Clara Hagopian adopted the baby and named him Steve Jobs. Steve’s biological mother, Joanne, didn’t see the boy again until 20 years after by which time Steve Jobs had become a global icon. In tears, she told whoever cared to listen that she regretted her action for throwing away her baby who would later build the world’s richest company. Joanne was misled by her father who insisted she could not marry the Syrian Muslim. Steve Jobs later said of his adoptive parents: “They are my parents 1000%.” Of his biological parents, he submitted: “They were my sperm and egg bank. That’s not harsh, it is just the way it was — a sperm bank thing, nothing more.” Steve Jobs’ adoptive parents delivered their message in life, i.e., raising Steve Jobs, while his biological parents (Jandali and Joanne) missed their spot-kicks and received nature’s red card.
What does all this add up to? Not all lives are vanity. Life is a game whose beginning is zero but the ending doesn’t have to be zero. Nelson Mandela pushed life’s envelope from 0 to 1, which is everyone’s ultimate assignment on earth. The first examination is to find one’s X while the second is to add value to it: X+1 = Self-actualisation.
Notorious dictators like General Sani Abacha, Field Marshal Idi-Amin Dada, and Mobotu Seseseko who mercilessly looted their respective countries and left robust foreign bank accounts for their children lived in vain because they found and destroyed X. Consequently, their children and children’s children can never leverage their names nationally or internationally. In Nature’s bank, they remain debtors, their respective ledgers are in deep red, with huge negative carry-forward balances which may take up to the fourth generation in their lineage to balance.
She is a mathematician, an accountant, an auditor and a no-nonsense judge. She is NATURE. Beneath the bewildering richness and magical beauty of Nature lies an elegant, incredible mathematical unity. The world seems to have been conceptualized by a pure mathematician.
The law of Balance is one of Nature’s immutable laws that govern our earthly transactions.
Nature, a stickler for details, always completes her transactions, her ledgers always balance up. There are no accumulating residues of unbalance in her transactions, at least not for long. Nothing escapes Nature’s eagle eyes — every transaction is recorded in Nature’s ledger book either on the debit or credit side.
Just as in the game of football, celebrating an “off-side goal” brings spontaneous joy which soon begets frustration. A similar fate awaits those who win through “off-side goals” in life. Nature deprives them of long-term genuine happiness and peace. The joy is temporary while the tearing is non-stop, extending to the next generation.
Nature credits only “on-side goals” as good success. Off-side goals are punished with yellow cards, and when it becomes a way of life of an individual, Nature brings out the red.
True, all great wealth, power and mega fame come with multiple yellow cards. Smart people manage to balance their ledger before exit by setting up genuine charitable foundations commensurate in impact to the volume of fouls committed in pursuit of those wins. Nature is not deceived by tokenism.
Sadly enough, a majority allow Nature to do the balancing, putting their lineage in Nature’s black book.
Albert Einstein, the famous genius, once noted: “How is it possible that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience, fits so excellently the object of physical reality?”
In Nature, nothing is left hanging for long. In the animal kingdom, no creatures are favourites; Nature balances every endowment and defect. Every excess begets imbalance, every imbalance begets chaos. For every item you seem to have missed, you have gained something else, and for every benefit you enjoy, it comes with a price tag.
Nature abhors monopoly, exceptions and greed. She does not permit circumstances to be mismanaged for long. Even though no visible checks to a new evil appear, the checks inherently exist and will manifest in due season. When the strong, the wealthy and the successful become rapaciously greedy, their ledgers in Nature turn red. The accountant in Nature opens her book for the auditor who submits her findings to the judge. Thereafter, Nature begins the process of balancing. The misery, unhappiness, war or bankruptcy we see are the outcome of Nature’s audit report. Every evil, illegality, abuse goes into the debit column on the ledger book. Every classified secret is ultimately revealed while every goodness attracts corresponding rewards. Every abnormality is redressed in silence, certainty and full measure. The fruit is already in the seed, the smoke is in the fire, actions and consequences are like Siamese twins, the whole manifest wherever a part surfaces.
Who says justice is postponed until the hereafter? Judgement is here and now. Justice cannot be annulled, though it tarries. The maximum prison is here and it is within. Those who ate their happiness in exchange for power, fame or wealth will end up inside Nature’s maximum prison, condemned to a silent and continuous tearing — a punishment which the acquired power, fame and money cannot vanquish, even when the owner elects to offload them. I was told of a governor who ate his happiness in order to get the position; he has to get drunk 24 hours, even as a sitting governor, to suppress his sorrow!
Nations use political and economic influence to delay justice, and individuals use social networks. Nonetheless, both nations and individuals cannot chain justice forever. Nothing abnormal, reckless or unjust can stand long. How can you separate the mermaid’s head from the dragon tail? Emerson’s Essay on Compensation argues: “Drive out nature with a fork, it comes running back.’’ On Nature’s wall, a crack exists already: nothing is given, all items are sold at wholesale prices, and life is a buffet, not a-la-carte. Appropriating benefits without making corresponding payment is tantamount to collecting an IoU from Nature’s bank, which must be settled by the collector. Otherwise, Nature’s debt recovery department steps in to balance the account and collect the principal, interest plus penalties from the children or grandchildren or even great-grandchildren as Nature deems fit.
All infractions of equity, fairness and justice in our social, commercial and geopolitical transactions are ultimately redressed and punished.
The old Roman Empire realised that truism, but only after it was too late. Italy today is a caricature of itself and still paying for the sins she committed when the world was under her watch for 1,000 years.
Germany and Japan became power-drunk and over-ambitious in the 1940s. Nature stepped in to balance their ledgers forcefully and ruthlessly.
Similarly, Russia’s ledger was already in crimson red even before Ukraine’s invasion, based on its activities in Syria and Eastern Europe. Adding Ukraine invasion has thrown Russia’s ledger into pure pepper red. Nature will not listen to Putin’s excuse that ‘’Russia was provoked by America and NATO’’. Putin and Russia will pay heavily — here, not hereafter; now, not later. Russians and Ukrainians should get ready for economic violence and social unrest, something similar to the 1930s America’s Great Depression.
America? Yes, America’s ledger is tomato red, too. By choosing not to rebuild Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the same way America rebuilt Japan, Germany and Europe after WW2, is like signing an irrevocable MoU with Nature to go ahead and balance the transactions anyhow.
She takes no prisoners when prosecuting her war: brutally, ruthless, but fair and just. That’s Nature, the Great Mathematician.
In conclusion, let us examine two cases on the nature’s ledger, one green, one red, an individual and a nation: the U.K. and Warren Buffett.
Red Ledger: U.K.
The kingdom of England formed around 927 AD brutally invaded and conquered Wales in the late 13th century as Britain. Britain later went ahead to invade Scotland and became Great Britain. The 1707 treaty with Northern Ireland produced the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The U.K. later went ahead to colonise India where it stole an estimated huge sum of $45 trillion from unbalanced trade relations and Africa where she looted her natural and human resources to build London. Currently, in Nature’s ledger, the U.K. is in pure pepper red arising from her excesses and uncountable geopolitical, economic and social infractions.
The Brexit blunders are part of the unfolding chain of events through which Nature will un-bundle the U.K. to become the small Britain it was in the 13th century. Scotland’s independence is a question of when, not if. Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said she would take steps to call for another independence referendum sooner than later. When Scotland exits the union, Irish reunification becomes imperative and inescapable. What will be left is one small, jejune Britain with inconsequential global influence. Worse still, the emerging Britain’s demographic configuration favours Asians and Africans more than the English. Indeed, the U.K.’s best years has come and gone; the future looks unpromising
Green Ledger: Warren Buffett
Papa Warren Buffett, a multi-billionaire and philanthropist extraordinary, at age 75 in 2006, announced a donation of a whopping $41 billion to five charitable foundations as part of his effort to give away 99% of his over $100 billion incomprehensible wealth, which he accumulated by investing in Berkshire Hathaway stock. He left an instruction that all his left-over money should be given away to charity within 10 years of his passing on to glory. When asked why he was giving away almost all his wealth to charity, the Oracle of Omaha, who has been living in the same house he bought 60 years ago said: “My needs are simple. My net worth is better spent going toward philanthropic causes than into kids’ investment portfolios. My philanthropy is the easiest deed in this world because the giving is painless and may well lead to a better life for both you and your children.”
Today, Warren Buffett is 91 and his children (who are also billionaires in their own right) are in their 60s — all waxing stronger, scandal-free, loved and happy, not because of money but because of blessings they enjoy which money can’t buy.
All told, African politicians and elites should reflect: if Warren Buffett whose source of income is known can donate 99% of the wealth which he legitimately earned to charity, is there one intelligent reason why those who became billionaires through state capture cannot emulate him?
Sadly enough, today in Nigeria, there is a grave competition going on over ordinary grave that grieves the soul. The wives of deceased politicians are in serious competition as to who will build the most impressive grave for their late husbands. A dead horse that didn’t win trophy for the people when it was on its four limbs should not be rewarded with a lavish, on-your-face, cathedral-size mausoleum furnished with air-conditioning units, Italian chairs, chandeliers and probably daily supply of ice blocks to cool the remains. That is a wrong medication, if the intention is to get the spirits of the departed to rest in peace (perfect or imperfect).
The proper medication is to donate 99% of the money looted from the public treasury to charitable endeavours like powering start-ups. A grant of $10,000 for each start-up undergoing mentorship is all that is required to put an end to graduate unemployment. Within five years, each $10,000 grant or equity investment can become $100 million with each start-up creating 1,000 quality jobs.
That way, Nature’s referee may, instead of the red card which she has for the family members of the Association of Public Treasury Looters in Africa (APTLA), overrule herself and issue a verbal warning or, at worse, a yellow. With that, the spirit of the departed will surely rest in perfect peace, once the ledger is balanced. Consequently, their families will be released from negative karma.
For Africa’s wealthy elites who desire to enjoy blessings which money cannot buy, the Warren Buffett way is it. But rather than following the Western priority by donating money to fight climate change, Africa’s immediate need is not climate change but jobs creation, especially the 4.0 business opportunities.
Michael Dell started Dell Computers with $1,000 on February 1, 1984; today Dell is valued at about $100 billion. With a $10,000 grant each, selected young African entrepreneurs are capable of creating hundreds of such within a decade.
In the words of Lao Russell, the philosopher: “Balance is the key to happiness and all other attainments. It is the key to what we think of as normalcy. That which we think of as abnormality (unhappiness, misery, ill-health, ill-luck etc.) is a transaction in Nature which has not been completed as a balanced transaction.”
Akano [pictured above] is an IT expert based in Lagos.