Warts for Wings

If we do not discover and acknowledge our flaws, while we can continue to acquire new knowledge and grow in certain ways, the power of new knowledge for facilitation of meaningful positive change continues to be hindered by our flaws. The power of self discovery lies in the insight it provides, insight that enables us understand ourselves better — warts and wings alike — making it easier for us to soar to new heights.

When we shrink from self discovery, we subconsciously shrink from new knowledge, particularly knowledge we anticipate conflicts with what we already know. When we embrace self discovery, views we disagree with help broaden our world view, helping us understand better how others see this world within which we all live, move, and have our being. When we shrink from self discovery, it is because we are afraid of what we might discover within ourselves.

We forget, however, that with discovery of warts comes discovery of wings. In the removal of the warts, wings we discover have power to soar and lift us up perhaps to heights previously unimaginable.

Consider the notion of suffering in this world. Many a times I see people leverage on all of the suffering in the world to rail against the notion of existence of God. While I understand frustrations that engender such belligerence, because it is people who care about others’ welfare who typically engage in such, I respectfully disagree with direction of the belligerence. I disagree because most of the suffering in the world is man made. Suffering in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan etc. all are man made, products of greed, unwillingness to cohabit peacefully, unwillingness to respect others’ rights to self actualization etc. Take ISIS for instance. While the seed for ISIS may have been sown by bad decisions on the part of the United States many years ago, ISIS continuously has refused to govern areas it has conquered with magnanimity and statesmanship, meaning they have behaved worse than Americans they point to as root source of their military insurgency. If the objective of military insurgency is not good governance and statesmanship, such insurgency deserves to fail. If Iraq now engages in military and other efforts to prevent Kurds from independence, independence they have shown they deserve, greed and unwillingness to respect self actualization already demonstrated and earned in the fight against ISIS may derail peace in the Iraqi region. If Kurds have been braver than the Iraqi Army at fighting off ISIS, bravery that can be objectively supported with factual evidence, Kurds deserve Independence because their independence strengthens rather than weakens the entire region. If the Iraqi region again devolves into chaos, it will be man made chaos not God or nature. Many years ago the whole world rallied to the help of Ethiopia for amelioration of ravages of famine. This rally was the source of the “We are the World” song by Michael Jackson and Friends. More than 30 years later, and with many years of good rainfall in course of those years, Ethiopia does not seem to have made any meaningful advances in dealing with low rainfall. Never mind the fact that there exists a segment of Ethiopia that lives in plenty in midst of said ravages of famine. The technology for dealing with low rainfall? Eminently available. Ancient Egyptians and Israel have deployed innovations for facilitation of improvements in agricultural yield and ensuring year round agricultural activity for decades, centuries, or millennia. Even if we attribute ravages of famine that occurred in the 1980s to withholding of rainfall by God or nature, in light of absence of any meaningful innovations or developments over the course of more than 30 years for dealing with low rainfall in Ethiopia, we are living in self denial if we do the same in 2017. My point is, I understand the other view point, yet can point out how it can become an exercise in escapism and abdication of responsibility.

We have opportunities for self discovery every day. In course of interactions with colleagues, friends, neighbors, students, teachers, mentors, mentees, we have opportunity to discover ourselves. We are to be careful, however, to ensure that we do not allow interactions to define who we are; rather, we are to leverage on interactions for arrival at a better understanding of who we are. The difference is subtle yet substantial because it is the difference between being tugged in many different directions by our interactions or determining which of our interactions we pull closer to ourselves into our inner circle.

In course of pursuit of personal objectives or professional aspirations, we have opportunity to discover ourselves. We learn what we are good at, what we do not care for, or what we care for but at which we currently are not so good. Whenever educational systems do not enable self discovery in young people, we fail at what is most important, which is enabling young people begin the process of discovery of self. A good educational system — a system within which learning occurs — can fail at enabling self discovery whenever students are shamed for being weak in a particular discipline. Such systems fail because shaming leads to pretense and need for pretense is antidote to self discovery.

I grew up in a country that does not have well defined professional paths for the basic sciences — I guess I do not have to tell you any such country has yet to lay a foundation for meaningful economic development. In light of absence of well defined professional paths for basic sciences, graduation from High School meant those with science preparation all wanted to major in applied sciences — medicine, engineering, computer science or engineering etc. — never mind the conundrum of how to maintain excellence in applied sciences independent of investments of best talents in development of basic sciences. While competition in Asian countries such as South Korea or Singapore for placement in basic science undergraduate programs may be a tad too intense, it is based on sound logic — basic sciences must be attractive to the best students coming out of High School science curriculums.

Like most of my counterparts I chose to major in an applied science — Computer Science. Due to a multitude of factors I am unable to delve into I eventually ended up majoring in Mathematics in the best program then available in my native country Nigeria. I thoroughly enjoyed majoring in Mathematics and ended up graduating top of my class with First Class Honors. Absent God’s intervention, luck, or chance, whatever one chooses to call it, I would have missed out on the opportunity to do something I still love and use today (abstract or pure mathematics) within context of applications in realm of finance and economics. Given I believe in God (Jehovah) and have faith in Jesus Christ, I believe it was Jesus’ intervention that provided me with the opportunity to study Pure Mathematics —after all, if we believe in a God who cares, we must of necessity believe He interjects in our favor when imperfections or frictions within our societies impede or distort our discovery of self. If I was not open to self discovery, regardless of faith in God, I would have insisted on majoring in Computer Science. With benefit of hind sight and more than 20 years of post Baccalaureate experience, I realize majoring in Computer Science never would have been as good a fit for my strengths, desires, and aspirations as majoring in Pure Mathematics.

Money is an important component of our lives. No matter how philosophical we are about living simply, we all need some certain amount of money for life to make sense. When we operate economies that encourage young people to choose careers on basis of money as opposed to self discovery, however, we create an economy or society that functions on basis of money alone, a country filled with people who have no notion whatsoever of who they truly are, a country filled with people that operate on a “money” herd mentality. The most developed countries of the world are countries within which everyone can earn a decent living by accepting who they have discovered themselves to be in determination of professional aspirations.

If society is to be healthy, it will be because people are encouraged to and provided with tools that facilitate self discovery. It will also be because self discovery devolves into choices of professions that enable decent standards of living.

Establishment of paths and tools for, and vehicles (professions) for outcomes of process of Self Discovery lie at the essence of well functioning societies and economies.



Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos

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Oghenovo Obrimah, PhD

Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos