“Choose faith over fear and be courageous. When I think of someone who is tough, I also think of someone who has courage. People who persist have courage, because often it’s a lot easier to give up.”
Donald Trump – “HOW TO GET RICH”.
“This guy must be going through the loneliest moments of his life. My heart goes out to him. His campaign to go to Parliament for the second time is truly cut out for him. I wish him all the best”. These were my silent ruminations to myself when I read a particular story on a news portal in the course of doing my short fifteen-minute scan through the few stories of potential interest to me. Yes, fifteen minutes, maximum two or three times a day to read news feeds… no kidding.
It is a fact that the internet, television, telephone and other technological advancements have the capacity to engage one’s attention with no opportunity of escape for the full God-given 24 hours in each day, every day of the 365 days in the year. Therefore, we need to be intentional about how much time we allocate to these useful but potentially destructive and distractive devices of advance technology. Now, this may sound very ‘old school’ but I will wager it is better to come across as a relic from an ancient age than to be a slave or an addict to modern technology. One of my favourite autobiographies is Carl Jung’s “MEMORIES, DREAMS, REFLECTIONS” (1962) which he co-authored with Aniela Jaffé. In that book, Jung, a Swiss psychologist, talks about what he refers to as ‘reforms by advances’ and ‘reforms to by retrogression’. He states that “Reforms by advances, that is, by new methods or gadgets, are of course impressive at first, but in the long run they are dubious and in any case dearly paid for. They by no means increase the contentment or happiness of people on the whole. Mostly, they are deceptive sweetenings of existence, like speedier communications which unpleasantly accelerate the tempo of life and leave us with less time than ever before. “Omnis festinatio ex parte diaboli est” ‘all haste is of the devil’, as the old masters used to say. Reforms by retrogressions, on the other hand, are as a rule, less expensive and in addition more lasting, for they return to the simpler, tried and tested ways of the past and make the sparsest use of newspapers, radio, television, and all supposedly timesaving innovations.”
But to return. My silent ruminations earlier referred to were in relation to a Member of Parliament (MP) who had lost his bid at his party’s constituency primaries to represent his constituents in the 8th Parliament of the Fourth Republic. He had, therefore, decided to contest for the parliamentary seat as an independent candidate instead of going on the ticket of his political party. Ordinarily, one does not lose sleep over an MP’s failure to re-book a seat in Parliament. There are always others waiting in the wings to un-seat sitting MPs so they can have their share of ‘honourable treatment’, including, but not limited to, flouting road traffic rules with impunity and receiving hefty “ex-gratia award” every four years in perpetuity so long as they are retained as MP.
Now, this particular MP’s case was unusual and it appeared to be a tall order for him for the following reasons. First of all, his seat was in the stronghold of the ruling political party. Therefore, it appeared to be nigh impossible for anyone other than a candidate of the party to win the seat. Secondly, upon declaring his intention to go independent, his political party dismissed him and managed to get the Speaker of Parliament to announce the dismissal on the floor of the House. Thirdly, the President affirmed in the MP’s constituency, in the presence of “the chiefs and people” that, the constituents should vote for the party’s candidate instead of the sitting MP who had gone independent. It could be argued that in all sincerity, the President did not have much choice in the matter; he had to support his party’s candidate. Fourthly, if the MP lost as independent candidate, he will lose his membership of the party, the seat in Parliament, his means of livelihood in the unacceptably dark City of Accra, the potential deputy ministerial position that the President had promised him and he could virtually lose his manhood, in a manner of speaking.
In spite of all the seemingly catastrophic consequences that were waiting to befall the MP if he kept on his path of ‘intransigence’, he stuck to his guns. His story almost became a national debate while he suffered a barrage of threats and insults from well-known party faithful.
Eventually, the elections day came and the MP won as an independent candidate. It pleased many people to no end that a person who had been so battered and bruised had emerged victorious. The MP has been made 2nd Deputy Speaker of Parliament. To the best of my recollection, in his previous life as MP of his political party, he held no known position in Parliament and the executive arm of government.
The MP’s victory affords us many valuable lessons in our lives:
- We should have the courage of our convictions: As individuals, we are always inclined to take the line of least resistance when we are confronted with challenging situations. We take flight; we do not fight. But once we have faith and conquer our fear, we triumph in the end. Once we take a decision which we believe is right, we must have the confidence to carry it through to the end. It is only when we do so that we reap the real benefits of our toils and tribulations.
In the case of the MP under reference, little was heard of him during his first term in Parliament. He was neither a minister of state, deputy minister nor a member of the leadership of Parliament. However, once he courageously stood by his decision to go as an independent candidate in his second term against the stark odds staring him in the face, he is now the richer for it. Who would have thought that a one-term, largely unknown MP will become 2nd Deputy Speaker in his second term? That became possible because when he was at the edge of the precipice of his political life, he chose courage over fear.
The one great quality we should all aspire to develop is courage – that we should be in a position to defend to the death positions we believe to be right. It may not make us too popular but it, most certainly, will help us think for ourselves and save us from cultivating a herd mentality. Sometimes, we are most afraid to begin a journey whose end we cannot yet perceive but it is only with courage and determination that such a venture is undertaken. So, let us get out of our comfort zones and live our lives in the direction our convictions point us. Therein lies the essence of a fulfilled life.
- Don’t tread the easy path of dalliance: There is always the temptation for us to adopt the ‘touch-and-go’ approach to life. When we embark upon any venture and we hit a snag, we run for cover and abandon it and contrive all manner of excuses to rationalize our capitulation. I remember when I was preparing for my O’ Level exams and l was given a list of ingredients to buy for Home Science “practicals”. I knew my mother would readily give me the money to buy the ingredients I needed but I was no longer interested in writing the exams. My reason was simple: I did not fancy the prospect of going from campus to Mampong town to search for a cattle herdsman at dawn to buy fresh cow milk a.k.a “nono”, the main ingredient for my chosen dessert for the “practicals”.
I, therefore, devised a plan to go home and inform my mother that I was no longer going to write Home Science, and that it was not a big deal as I had the requisite 8 subjects I needed to satisfy WAEC’s requirements, I rationalized. When I eventually went home to tell my mother my well-rehearsed story, punctuated with rationalizations and patronizing anecdotes, her response was swift, simple and sweet: “Once you registered for Home Science, you will write the exams. Go back to school. Leave the list of ingredients with me. I will have them sent to you on the appointed day”. With a sullen face and a deflated soul, I bade good-bye to my beloved Great-Grandmother who was chatting with my mother before my unanticipated appearance. I turned on my heel and went back to school with one life lesson learned.
In the MP’s case, if he had dilly-dallied and not stayed focused, his eventual victory would have remained a mirage.
- Be cool-headed in trying times: Throughout the campaign period, many were those who poured scorn on the MP in the media. In the face of all the threats, harassment, dismissal and sense of isolation that befell him, he bore his lot with a great sense of equanimity. Not a single bad word was reported to have come out of his mouth. This character trait, perhaps, explains why his nomination as 2nd Deputy Speaker was easily accepted by both parties in the House.
- Nothing good comes cheap: To become 2nd Deputy Speaker of Parliament after just one rather uneventful term in Parliament is no mean feat. The MP had to go through a lot and contest against his own political party at the risk of expulsion. If he had not put up a fight for what he believed he deserved, he would have thrown in the towel too soon and left Parliament into oblivion. With tenacity of purpose, he did not only retain a seat as MP but also gained prominence as one of the leaders in the House.
Kudos, Hon. Asiamah. Your experience has taught us many lessons.
PS: Oh, boy! What a time to be quoting Trump! I, however, take consolation in the fact that he wrote his book “HOW TO GET RICH” many years before the US Presidency, and before he became what he became. Ah, well.
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Francisca Serwaa Boateng is the Founder & Managing Counsel of FSB Law Consult.
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