Health, Wealth and Death

I grew up hearing the common statement: “Health is wealth”. Without additional input or further clarification from anyone, I simply concluded that a healthy man is a wealthy man. Although this statement is true to an appreciable extent, I also know better now that the simple statement is so loaded.

First, one needs to live in good health in order to make any substantial wealth.

Second, no matter how huge one’s wealth is, without good health, the huge wealth is useless to the unhealthy owner.

Third, a healthy nation defines how wealthy that nation is, and vice versa. Fourth, wealth does not necessarily guarantee good health, and without good health, wealth will not likely be sustained over time.

Only a healthy family sustains wealth beyond a generation because good health goes beyond physical wellness. A dysfunctional family will squander the wealth, no matter how huge, over frivolities and or litigations. This is also true of nations.

A healthy nation is one where institutions of governance function well. It is one where the vulnerable are protected. It is also a place where fairness, justice, and equity rule. A healthy nation may not necessarily be super wealthy in terms of dollar or gold measurement.

However, the life, living condition, and lifestyle of the citizens will define how healthy, and ultimately, how wealthy the nation is. A nation that boasts of so much huge dollars in the bank without commensurate health of her citizens is nothing but a huge joke!

The health of a nation is also reflected in the kind of leadership that nation has. Like the head of any human being, a nation with an unhealthy head could easily be noticed from the action or inaction of the head, just as any human head suffering from mental sickness will throw the entire body underneath it into a turmoil.

What is good health, and who sets the criteria could be worthy questions to ask.

However, there is a general consensus as to what an unhealthy head looks like. It will act in strange ways. It will make nonsense of common sense. It will lie and cheat unashamedly. It will be swollen with pride. It will cook up conspiracy theories.

It will inspire hate instead of hope. It will act out of selfishness. It will throw caution to the wind. It will become reckless in speech and in action. On the contrary, a healthy head will seek consensus and unity. It will gather rather than scatter.

It will inspire rather than conspire. It will come up with ways to mobilize for good works rather than trade in distractions. It will create ways to lift up and not let down. It will fashion creative ways to build rather than destroy.

It will consistently seek the good of unborn generations through today’s decisions. It will strive hard for good and godly lasting legacies.

The wealth of a nation shows in the living standard of the citizens, the limitless opportunities the system creates for the people, the just and equitable orderliness that gives people peace and the unmistakable inspiration of the leaders that fires up people’s passion to do good at all times.

A wealthy nation is one where the citizens look out for the good of others. It is one where excesses are controlled, injustices tamed and shameful corruption crushed decisively!

The health in the wealth reflects in the way the wealth is used, not to oppress, but to destroy oppression.

It reflects in the way the wealth is used to spread wealth across the board and fortify the good health of all. In fact, the health in the wealth is seen in how the nation uses it to plan for the future wealth of unborn generations.

A healthy nation is one where community wealth and wellness trump individualistic mad rush for wealth accumulation at the expense of some others. Interestingly, the health and wealth of a nation will determine how, when, and where death comes upon a citizen. If the wealth of a nation promotes the consumption of junk, then death could come in the junkyard.

If the wealth of a nation promotes indulgence, then death could come through freak accidents, or even obesity. When the wealth of a nation creates individualism, the people will experience relational and emotional loneliness, and ultimately, painful death.

When the wealth of a nation is used to inadvertently promote the life of too much leisure, pleasure and possibly, indiscipline, then the citizens will experience financial, creative and productive death due largely to undue wastage on conspicuous consumption.

When the wealth of a nation encourages all citizens to become too full of themselves, to the point of even denying creation and the Creator, and even questioning the existence of death, such citizens can be sure of embracing spiritual death. And that is when people want to try all kinds of strange ideas, notwithstanding the accompanying fatal consequences.

But how do we see death today? Some see it as the end of natural life. To others, it is simply the final full stop when a human heart ceased to beat, leading to a human body that will no longer respond to touch or feelings. Some others see death as the inevitable passage from time to eternity.

Many see it as a journey of no return. Some even see it as a gateway to escape the pain and the danger of this world. A lot of people forgot about death when they are in good health, or when they are enjoying or swimming in huge wealth.

Yet, good health could be for a short time and wealth is ever fleeting. Many are born without any guarantee of good health or with very foggy chances of ever making huge wealth. However, only death is guaranteed.

It has never been a matter of “if”, but of “when”. Some hunt down others, but they forget that one day, death will knock on their doors too.

Questions about how, where or when death could come should become a source of inspiration for the living that appreciates the power of hindsight, insight and foresight.

We will all die one day, but do we ever think of how to make the world a better place so as to die at an advanced age with no pain?

Death is a reminder that our good health is for a limited time; and that our wealth is meant to be shared with others when we are no longer on this side of eternity known as time. Death is the game-changer that should warn the predator that is always looking for a prey.

Death is a time-tested warning to the smart and the rich to temper their pride. Death is a leveler – one that will take away the healthy and the wealthy, whether they are ready or not! But do we see death as something escapable?

Yes, some do! But not in the way ordinary human beings see it. A clear understanding and definition of death could change human perspective about life, health, and wealth. Death is beyond the physical. It means total cessation of life of a human body, soul and spirit.

It will not only be the end of life of the heart and the brain, it will also mean the end of the spirit and the total commonwealth for the one who experienced death deep in the depth of the earth where there is no footpath henceforth, and with zero hope to bequeath to or give birth, as both the mouth and breadth had experienced the ultimate irredeemable bloodbath.

The final conclusion is this: live healthy, spread the wealth, and always prepare for death. No matter how healthy or wealthy a human being is, it is only a matter of time, because one day, the sun will go down, and such a mere mortal will take his or her exit from this side of eternity called time, never to see the sun rise again, and never to return to it again!

(❚ 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)