On character

I have always believed that of all qualities available to a person the most important is integrity. This to me is the beginning of all wisdom; to be true to oneself, to set one’s own standard, to rely on one’s own conscience. In relation to others that means, of course, not to betray trust.

Next to this, and going hand in hand, I would place the quality of humility because, bearing in mind what I have said above, a person without humility to moderate their self-reliance must be prone to excesses; to bigotry, fanaticism or ruthlessness.

And to support these two, one must have courage, for without courage, all else can come to nought. To have standard and not the courage to uphold them is tantamount to having no standards at all. To have humility but no courage will bring a person into a state of mere passivity. But a person aspiring to integrity, humility and courage will surely not lack a fair sense of justice, loyalty, honor, generosity and compassion.

And finally indispensable to all else in a person is their abiding love for the universe – the larger organism we all exist in – the people, other living things, the nature around us and our existence in its entirety.

– Emeka

On being black

For me, being black means in a word ‘disadvantaged.’ The moral and emotional fabric of western civilization is based on the concept that black and inferior are synonymous. There are many reasons for this, but the most important thing is not what the white thinks of the black, but what the black man thinks of himself in the fact of this reality.

Confronting this reality, my blackness becomes a reaction. I am black because the other man says I am black. So be it. I then have to establish a catalogue of those qualities that have been denied to my race and proceed by my conduct to refute the other man’s prejudices about me and my people.

From this I observe that as a black one has this advantage; that at least I can look at western civilization with objectivity of my choice. One can assess, judge; one has choice; to copy, to reject or to modify. Being black means having a certain concept of life, of which a major strain is of being close to Nature. But this also has a concomitant weakness in lack of technology and fear of the supernatural. These limitations – and in the modern world they are limitations – are not naturally insuperable, but understanding them is vital for the necessary conquest of them.

Over the years I have tried to find at what point the road of evolution of the black man moved away from that taken by the white man. Increasingly, I believe the point of diversion can be found in Man’s relation to God. The fact is, the black man’s God is a God of retribution; awesome, unapproachable and merciless. The white man’s God is a God of love, mercy and forgiveness. From there, it is not hard to see how the black became inhibited in his confrontation with natural phenomena, while the white felt encouraged to explore and conquer the natural phenomena that surrounded him.

Let me give an example. The black man, faced with a strange mountain, quickly turns his back on this terrifying monster, seeks out a calf from his miserable herd and begins the regular sacrifice to the god of the mountain. Very soon the mountain has become sacred and impenetrable. His white counterpart would be fascinated by the spectacle of the mountain, but his reaction would be to climb it, on its summit to dominate the landscape, on its flanks to sow his crops and in its entrails to mine for minerals. the Black man in history, considering himself unworthy of God, has tended to leave creation as it stood, easily satisfied; the white man, considering himself favorite of God, has, through the ages continually questioned creation, and never hesitated to bend it to his will and his advantage.

Where each of these divergent attitudes have led is now very clear; the technological gap, the domination of the world by the white, and the moral enslavement of the black man’s mind. Today I think we have come to realize that this bar to our development can and must be overcome. But to overcome it, we must, as a race, make fundamental changes in our attitudes, realizing that the greater enemy is within ourselves, and that plots and conspiracies against us, if they exist, are but secondary obstacles.

These are thoughts by Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, culled from Emeka by Frederick Forsyth.

Appreciate the journey

Recently, I have caught myself a few times backtracking and re-imagining how life would be for me if I had made certain decisions differently, or if I had done certain things instead of certain other things. You know, the typical analysis of our journeys during the building process. More importantly, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection, and it has impacted me in very many ways, mostly good.

My reflection process has made me revisit my long term plans for myself and the ways I want to make an impact on the world around me. They have also made me beat myself up pretty severely for many missteps I made in the process. This phase I am going through has taken a huge toll on me, and as a result, I find myself anxiously zapping through my days in a pursuit of a natural execution of plans I have put together for the near future.

Today, I got my copy of “Plan Twice, Build Once” by the guys at the Rocketship.fm podcast, and while reading through, a quote from a particular interview really resonated with me.

I believe you have gone through all the things you went through to get to where you are now. We love to look back and recount all the things we’d change for the better. We imagine a scenario in which we use our newfound knowledge to get from A to B faster, avoid all mistakes, do everything right the first time, and all live happily ever after. But the truth is, we undervalue where the knowledge came from. Those mistakes, those dead-ends, they were vastly more valuable than the times we got it right the first time. It’s not fun. Failure sucks. But a different perspective, an appreciation for the path that got us to where we are now and where we’ll be next, makes everything so much more fulfilling. – Perri Blake Gorman

What amazing insight. We always underestimate the journey that has enabled us glean the knowledge and experience we have today, torturing ourselves with the thought that if we had done X, Y or Z differently, things could have been better.

In essence, do not underestimate the journey. Everything that has happened till now has happened for a reason – good, bad, silly, smart, gruesome, or pleasant. Relish that journey, and live the rest of it. The legend will unravel itself as you continue to travel.