By Sunday Akin Olukoju
This piece is written to make a positive connection between: word, ward, and the world! But what is the meaning of “word”? It is defined as “a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning”, according to Dictionary.com.
And if it is a “principal carrier of meaning”, the next question then will be, “what kind of meaning, for whom is the meaning meant, and for what purpose?
A ward, on the other hand, and from the same source, is “a minor or one legally incapable of managing his [or her] own affairs, [and] placed under the control or protection of a guardian or of a court”; or described as “guardianship, as of a minor or legally incompetent person”.
In this case, what kind of word or “principal carrier of meaning” can one send to, or exchange with “one [who is] legally incapable of managing his [or her] own affairs, [and] placed under [one’s] control or protection” in a world that is defined by the same source as “the earth or a part of it, with its inhabitants, affairs, etc., during a particular period (like the ancient world)”; and it could also refer to “humankind; the human race; [and or] humanity”?
So, what kind of word should one share with a ward who is under one’s guardianship in a world that is consumed with consumerism, distracted by social media, sold out to Hollywood stars without substance, easily carried away by peer pressure, confused by the confusing fake news all over town, misguided by a political leadership that keeps lowering the bar on family values, and challenged by an eclipsing world where climate is fast changing its colors, codes and conditions?
Some of the words flying around town these days include insults, condescending statements, discouraging comments, and outrightly damaging messages.
What do we say about parents who use such disparaging words like ‘stupid’, ‘dumb’, ‘failure’, ‘useless’, ‘nonentity’, ‘brain-dead’, ‘irreparable’, ‘irredeemable’, and or ‘complete right off’ on their kids? And how do we respond to teachers who refer to some of their students as ‘hopeless’, ‘dim-wit’, ‘empty-headed’, or ‘good-for-nothing’?
A prolific professor once shared the comment his elementary school teacher told his mum. The teacher had told his mum, “Chuck will not amount to anything – he will not go beyond high school”! Chuck later rose to become one of the best professors in his field.
Damaging words can kill the spirit of a ward. Negative words can dampen the morale and destroy the destiny of a struggling ward. A careless word spoken into the life of someone grappling may cause irreparable damages.
Friends, particularly in schools are wounding the self-esteem of fellow students – from using their natural inadequacies to taunt them, to cutting them down and making them feel less human, while using demeaning and depressing words.
We currently have a sitting president who is known to trade in insults every single week, tweeting depressing words and heating up the polity. Some wards committed suicide because of some words of death sent or spoken to them. Can wandering wards ever prosper in a world of death-words?
And this brings up the question about the kind of world we live in. Today, the world is upside down. Values have taken flight, and vices have taken over. Virtues have been consumed by voracious vultures.
Decency has been swallowed by incompetency. Justice has been overwhelmed by injustice. Fair-play has been completely played out of the game of fairness. We live in a world where only a few are able to pay the piper, and where the very few are the ones dictating the tunes from coast to coast to coast.
We live in a world where rules of the game are changed in the middle of the game, and in some cases, yanked off completely without conscience. Our world has become one in which you have to look outside of your window to verify the truth when someone greets you ‘good morning’.
The world is seen as progressing, but no one can truly say in which direction – whether upwards or downwards. Those who claim to know better are no better. They pretend the climate is fine, and that the world is not changing, yet the world continues to see the fewer rich become greedier.
The lopsided world will create obstacles or sliding tackles to bring down anyone trying to climb out of the pit of the oppressed. The world is squeaking painfully. The wards are dying crazily. The words that continue to fly around are toxic and highly flammable. Yet no one cares.
Today, another nasty word flies out. Tomorrow, another dead or missing ward. But the world continues to crawl on, slowly, sluggishly, and hopelessly, with wounds, warts and all!
But there is hope, if the world is ever ready to look up and see the sun.
There is hope in words that will reflect sunshine and subsequently cast illuminating light on every damning darkness.
There is hope in words that will bring sweetness and not bitterness.
There is hope in words that will build wards and prolong lives. There is hope in words that will unite and not disunite; and even gather and not scatter.
There is hope in words that will lift up and not bring down.
There is hope in words that will express love and not hate.
There is hope in words that will promote peace and not drum up the chants of war.
There is hope in words that will protect and not destroy.
There is hope in words that will set free and not enslave.
There is hope in words that will empower and not disempower.
There is hope in words that will inspire and not conspire.
There is hope in words that will engender embrace and not promote refrain.
There is hope in words that will cause laughter and not weeping.
The world and all the wards in it need words of hope and inspiration. We all need words that give life, not the ones that kill. We all need words of encouragement and not words of despair. The world needs words that will build accord and eliminate discord.
The world of wards needs the appropriate keyword that will hit the right chord and be able to record the right accord and concord that the world can always afford. Share a word of life today with the wards of the world.
(❚ Dr. Sunday Akin Olukoju is the Director of Distance Education of Providence Theological Seminary, a community newspaper correspondent, and the president of a community organization)