Who Am I?

I have sought a definition
A sentence that could give me full expression of who I actually am

Am I a girl?
Is my life best expressed in the gender
In the XX of my genotype
Or in the comely form of my phenotype?

Am I a youth?
The leader of tomorrow; the pillar of today,
Am I one of the millions of jolly fresh faced persons
Brewing with passion but lacking in knowledge,
Just hustling to make it?

Am I a Nigerian?
Do I get my identity from my southern roots
Trying to fit into the mold of societal stereotypes?

Am I a graduate?
Is that laminated certificate in my box my identity card
Such that I am quick to shove my titles in peoples faces
Using that as a basis for unhealthy comparison…
But deep down I know
I am not my profession and my profession is not me
So help me answer this question who am I?

Guys, it took a long time to realize who I was
To understand that I couldn’t find myself by looking inward
but looking outward
that I would only see my true reflection
when I look in His mirror
that my true life is wrapped in his death and glorious ascension
that my life is not about the external but the eternal

but that my real identity is in JESUS
not in gender or status or nationality or age or education or skill
so who am I?
I am a child of God, a joint heir with Christ
I am a spiritual, supernatural, extraordinary human being
Trust me,
I am not just a girl, I am not just a youth,
I am not just a Nigerian, I am not just a graduate, I am not just a poet…
I AM A CHILD OF GOD!

Damaris
© 2020

THE BLANKET: YOU ARE NOT WHERE YOU COME FROM

“Americans are irreverent.”

“Nigerians are scammers”.

“Arabs are cheats.”

These comments (or things like them) are said about people of specific nationalities and ethnicities on the daily. And for the most part, this sort of labeling passes unchallenged, because it’s more frequently done in group conversations involving people who actually believe that individual behavior can be put down to the purported tendencies of the societies from which they originate.

Interestingly, many of these people will resist attempts from others to slap the same sort of negative group labels on them. They will claim exceptions for their own individuality, perhaps even reject derogatory descriptions of members of their group.

A lot of us have done these things at some point in our lives. Some of us still actively identify the behavior of individuals with popular stereotypes of their countries or cities of origin.

If you’re reading this right now, your default response might be to “condemn negative stereotypes” and “encourage us to see one another as unique in ourselves.”

Of course, there are irreverent people, scammers, and cheats in every ethnic group, country, or race. In any case, there’s next to no empirical evidence that any specific nationalities are more given to doing bad things than others.

The problem with blanket statements, positive or negative, is that they significantly distort reality. They tell us that things are as they are not. And these distortions have serious consequences.

There’s one obvious example. Young children don’t seem to mind about the colour of their friend’s skin or where they are from, until they get exposed to negative social ideas about race and their parent’s take on geopolitics.  As they grow, they pick these ideas up. By adulthood, they have acquired a full set of stereotypes which they’re ready to slap on to the next available target.

That’s a very easy takedown.

But what about positive cultural stereotypes then? Do we give those a pass?

We suggest not. Claiming that the Chinese are accommodating by default simply glosses over a sizeable number of instances in which Chinese people have treated strangers badly.

But there are consequences for so-called positive stereotypes as well. When we say that an ethnic group has some fantastically good qualities just by virtue of their being that ethnic group, we’re claiming that ‘goodness’ is expected of people of that group by default. In reality, it’s wishful thinking (and even dangerous) to trust that ethnic identity will confer positive traits by themselves.

It’s wishful thinking because selfishness, the default human tendency, eventually rears its head even among the most ‘pleasant’ people, if we hang around them long enough. It’s dangerous because it sets us up to be disappointed, to lose the trust we have invested in people, and to despise them for disappointing us.

In the end, we are individuals, with a capacity for both good and evil. Our expressions of these things may vary according to our environments (and some stereotypes may be drawn from characters that actually exist). But this doesn’t change our individuality. It doesn’t make us any less human in God’s eyes.

This rings true for Christians, united as we are by our faith in Jesus. As the apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:28,

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

Ikenna Nwachukwu & Ezeonyeka Godswill.

THE BLANKET: THE BIG SIN DILEMMA

Once in a while some “new” social vice steps onto the scene that seems to rock the very moral core of the world. Whenever this happens, the church has been known to be very damning in their judgment of whatever it is, giving the world the notion that though God hates sin, He hates some sins more than the others.

Of course, this is laughable for anyone who has actually studied the Bible. In theory, it is clearly stated that in God’s eyes a rebellious person is as bad as a murderer. The thing that creates these distinctions is our own moral bias and since we are somewhat afraid to own up to them, we just slap our God on it and hope that everyone accepts it without question.

The only problem with this is God only backs up his word, not yours. So, if and when the inconsistency is found in your judgment of some “big sin”, your sense of judgement called to question. But the God you claim told you that is also called to question. Making the world doubt the sovereignty of God’s wisdom and stray farther from salvation.

Another problem with this dilemma is the way a blanket is thrown over anyone struggling with such vices or tendencies. This happens because once you put the spotlight on a character flaw, a single story begins to manifest and sure as day it is slapped on every individual with even an inkling of a trait close to the said character flaw. Popular instances are, “All smokers are wife beaters”, “All serial killers are loners”, “All homosexuals come from broken homes” etc.

These look harmless and probably justifiable on the surface but if you look deeper, it is hurting more people than we realize. A very big reason for this is when people build their lives on such a premise, it does cave in and when it does, they lose trust and begin to question everything. It is just like the proverbial hole covered with a blanket and throne set on it as told in African folklore. We are setting a trap for ourselves when we proliferate these stereotypes. Even when we do so in goodwill.

The human character is perhaps the most dynamic phenom on the planet. It may look like the same trait, but it frequently changes in its expression. This tells us that to help anyone with a character flaw, an individualistic approach is the best way. An approach that considers the human in question and their specific experience with the said struggle.

Also, take off the veil over the act. Every sinful act is sinful before God and Jesus died for them all. Once we give one priority over the other, we inadvertently give power to a sinful act; which should not be so. No matter how horrendous it may seem, it is no different from what we may call ‘everyday’ sin and it is a product of man’s inordinate desire to control his own destiny. The way out is always to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus and let the Holy Spirit guide you.

Sin is quite the topic in the Christian sphere, but that is about it. There are no big sins. And no matter what it is you and I are struggling with, the fact remains, it is wrong, and God wants to help us with it. Go to God in prayer, change your focus from yourself to God, get all the help you need and see God save you as He has promised.

 

Grace.

Ikenna Nwachukwu & Ezeonyeka Godswill.

Blanket One: The Cross-Bearer’s Blank Intellect?

‘Godidit.’

That’s the trendy new term with which internet atheists mock ‘scientifically illiterate’ Christians for ascribing every good thing to God. When us faithful people praise God for the birth of a new baby, deliverance from dangerous circumstances, or even the beauty of a sunset, skeptics now respond by shooting that short ugly line back at us.

‘Goddidit’- a bundling together of the phrase ‘God did it’ -is the latest addition to a pool of cliché terms that militant unbelievers draw from to highlight the apparently lazy intellectual attitudes of Christians (or their lack of any intellectual attitude).

The careless compaction of the words that make up the term is itself supposed to suggest that Christians can’t speak intelligently about what we say we believe. It also carries with it the idea that we are unwilling or unable to probe physical reality with our minds, and just invoke God as an explanation for things we can’t understand.

In a nutshell, it’s supposed to make Christians look dumb.

But are Christians really bereft of intelligent thought?

As a Christian and a proud lover of all things intellectual, I deny that this is the case. I know too many straight-thinking, ridiculously smart people who live a life of faith to accept the assumptions implicit in mocking terms like ‘Godidit’.

I mean, there are brilliant responses to such derisive claims, as well as to the more sophisticated arguments against belief in God- responses formulated by Christians. There’s even a whole branch of Christian ministry- apologetics –which tackles these issues. It’s clear to any well-informed person that Christians aren’t intellectually inept by definition.

Also, contrary to popular belief, faith, especially in the Christian context, does not defy logic. Too many times in the bible has the message and personality of Jesus been called to question and that many times it has stood its ground against reason. The abhorrent laziness of ‘some’ Christians in our day does not do justice to the fact that ours is a faith-based on undeniable facts and answers not many are willing to accept.

Unfortunately, many Christians have accepted the unbeliever’s caricature of them as weak-minded without realizing it. You see this resignation in the way a lot of us respond to questions about God and suffering, or nature and its functioning, or the resurrection of Christ. “Just have faith” or “because the Bible says so” appear to be the standard answers to such inquiries. This sort of attitude fuels atheist memes about Christians, and undermines our attempts to reach out to a world that won’t simply take our word for it.

We’ll conclude with a two-sided appeal. To the unbeliever or skeptic: Christians aren’t silly by default. We can and have answered your questions about our faith with logic, facts, and sympathy. If you’re open to sound reasoned arguments for Christianity, please look up the works of Christian apologists. We’d recommend reading C.S. Lewis if you’re a regular fella (like us), or William Lane Craig if you’d like more advanced stuff or watch lectures by Dr. Ravi Zacharias on Youtube.

To our Christian brothers and sisters: faith is not an excuse to indulge in intellectual laziness. Always be ready and willing to give reasons for your faith (1 Peter 3:15). Be like Paul at Athens, if the occasion demands- debate the skeptics with smarts and tact. Show them that to believe in Jesus is not to cower from reason, but to believe in the one who is Logic made flesh.

Selah.

 

By

Godswill Ezeonyeka and Alexander Ikenna.

THE BLANKET: An Introduction to Us

The human brain has a system of recognizing patterns and overtime saving energy by blazing past these patterns to expected results. When you’re just starting to learn math, you would have to grapple with why 1+1 should equal 2. Over time, you just know the answer is 2. Your mind skips the reasoning process and jumps to the answer and for every time you turn out to be right, the process becomes shorter, leading to faster answers and lightspeed reasoning.

It’s a fascinating fact about the way our minds work.

As the world grows more socially intelligent, we are increasingly aware of the rising epidemic that is “Stereotyping”. I say that we are only getting aware because this issue has been around for as long as we have been. I believe that stereotyping has its roots in our brains trying to reach conclusions as quickly as possible, so much so, it misses out on the individuality of the experience of life.

I dare say, that we are all guilty of stereotyping; it’s our nature.

That last statement up there is stereotypical too. The thing is, this pen is cocked and pointed at all of us not because we have evil intentions all the time, but because we carry a mind that needs to be trained to do better.

The Bible says in Romans 12:2, to be transformed by renewing the mind. The key is in the brain, in the mind. If we willingly take a step back to reconfigure our minds, we will be creating a transformed world. The following series hopes to question as many stereotypes as we can, but it will have no impact on you the reader if you don’t make a conscious and willing effort to accept when you are in the wrong and to make a change for the better.

Humanity is really a host of individuals. The human experience is individual by every definition. To throw a blanket over any group might save you a moment of consideration but you risk prejudice and consequences that might never be recovered from. Take this journey with us not to feel good about yourself, but to make a conscious effort to recalibrate your mind, to be transformed.

 

Cheers.

BY

Alexander Ikenna & Ezeonyeka Godswill