Self-Eulogy: Inside Out
By Acho Orabuchi
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
As we are constantly reminded of the brevity of life, what would you say if you were to eulogize yourself knowing that death is an inevitable occurrence? Oftentimes, we deliberately choose to forget about it or not to discuss it until we lose a loved one. When it occurs, we tend to use euphemism to express it.
Some of us are so engulfed with bitterness toward self and others that we don’t even realize when we cross the line in our insidious quest to eliminate our purported enemies.
It is not surprising that in most cases our purported enemies are our fellow brothers and sisters. We oftentimes forget that death is an inevitable end to all the madness in life. Even when we are too busy planning on how to undermine others and or chasing after wealth for ultimate power, the last thing that comes close to our mind is death.
Well, due to scientific and medical advances, some people may now know when, where, and how they will die. Some people are diagnosed with terminal diseases and are given a length of time to live. Also, people facing execution know when, where, and how they will die. However, most people do not know precisely the time he/she will die. Most people do not know how, where, why, and when they will die. The nature of death to most people is still highly unpredictable.
Without a doubt, no matter how much wealth, accomplishments or successes in life or power, we must be conscious of death and no one will be buried with his/her earthly possessions. However, our only consolations are legacies and fun memories we may leave behind. How long those memories will last will depend largely on our work when we were alive. When people are gone, their legacy may or may not live on. I am hopeful that you would join me in agreement with the following statement: “History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life, and brings us tidings of antiquity.” –Marcus Tullius Cicero 106-43 B.C., “Pro Publio Sestio”, II, 36.
Let’s contemplate on this—if a body lying in state were to speak, what would it say about itself? Again, if you were to eulogize yourself, what would you say? Ponder for a moment and imagine that you went into rhapsodies replete with veritable statements in self-eulogy; would you quickly run out of good things to say about yourself? If you would take time to write your eulogy and follow the scripts religiously in your daily living, would that make you a better individual? What would you want people to say in your funeral oration? Would you want them to talk about the following qualities of yours: character, your service to humanity and community, and your behaviour and attitude toward the needy?
The first word in the book of character is honesty. Honesty is the most frequently referred variable when talking about one’s character. It seems to stand out in one’s character and it is easily observable and measurable both scientifically and non-scientifically. Other components or traits of character besides honesty are integrity, humility, accountability, transparency, unselfishness, compassion, courage, etc. Zig Ziglar once said that, “The foundations of character are built not by lecture, but by bricks of good example.”
Similarly, service to humanity is another way to evaluate one’s worth when he or she was alive. Some people live selflessly for the most part. They contribute to humanity meaningfully in relation to their possessions. It is amazingly apparent that one cannot give what he or she does not have. A person cannot give peace or love if he/she does not have them. In the same token, hateful and angry people can only sow seeds of disunity because that is what they have. Most often we focus on money as the only thing one can give. Riches are individually and relatively defined based on our respective backgrounds. People are products of their environments.
As a result, our perspectives in life are different. In essence, you can give to humanity other things besides money. We are richly endowed with vast and variety of resources we could share with others if we so desire. It is evident that my spirit was captivated by what was embodied in the content of the words spoken by Leah de Roulet, a social worker, who counsels terminal cancer patients. She said, “I am led to believe that if there is a real purpose for any of us, it is to some how enhance each other’s humanity—to love, to touch others’ lives, to put others in touch with basic human emotions, to know that you have made even one life breathe easier because you have lived.”
Service without reproach is seminal in public accountability. No matter where you are placed in life, it is both your moral and professional responsibility to discharge your duties in an impeccable manner. Those individuals in government should have the courage, the moral, and character to discharge their contractual duties and carry out their societal obligations without blemish.
Most people go into politics to enrich themselves instead of serving the people. The prevalence of venal politicians in Nigeria makes one wonder if there is public aversion of corruption. Our primary focus should be the interest of the people. Many people hold the same view, including Sidney Powell when he said, “Try to forget yourself in the service of others. For when we think too much of ourselves and our own interests, we easily become despondent. But when we work for others, our efforts return to bless us.”
Oftentimes people are engulfed in mad pursuit for wealth that they lose their sense of morality and judgment. In a quest to be “number one”, people would go to any length to acquire wealth; they would not mind stepping on anyone to accomplish their objective. Whatever that is worth! One of the reasons people betray their ethnic group, country, or humanity, is money. In some ethnic groups, the youth are experiencing moral degeneration primarily because wealth has been determined as the only measure of success within these ethnic groups. Education, where people would acquire broad mind and analytical skills, is no longer important.
As a result, most people are preoccupied with how to acquire wealth at all cost. Our repugnant and indifferent attitudes toward humanity and societal issues or values have permeated the society to the level that individualism has overtaken the virtue of collectivity. Consequently, we are now experiencing the prevalence of cupidity in the Nigerian society. In all of these, most people are now consumed in themselves to the degree that they do not remember death or our creator until they are at the point of death.
It is my observation that everyone wants good things said about him or her in his/her funeral oration. The question is, are we living or did we live up to the funeral oration that we want? Since we are still alive, we have the opportunity to make amends of our lives to deserve a befitting eulogy. Reading and learning the Bible may help us improve on our desired life. We should redefine our individual focus in life. We should not allow wealth or power to be the centerpiece of our life. Let our lives be driven by the mirror image of our creator. Our faith in the Supreme Being should guide all our daily activities.
For me, the fulcrum of my life is Jesus. I concur with Timon (Efthymios) Roussis when he said, “The beauty of tomorrow is that you have today to create it.” No one or community has created a beautiful tomorrow with competing selfish interests at work. In other words, our self-interests should never be in our way to achieving a desired goal. A self-eulogy is a moment each individual should choose periodically to reflect on his/her daily life activities and determine if he/she would deserve funeral oration devoid of dishonesty. It is also a moment when one is mentally scripting words one would like to be incorporated in one’s eulogy. It is our individual responsibility to redirect our life.
Finally, let me conclude with this powerful statement by Mahatma Gandhi that reads, “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world—that is the myth of the ‘atomic age—as in being able to remake ourselves.”
Orabuchi writes from US.