“People are afraid to tell the truth even in obituaries”
I recently read an article where the aforementioned statement was made and it struck a nerve within me and made a lot of sense.
The statement had been made by a mother whose son died of a drug overdose. Even though many people may not have known the cause of his death she revealed it because she wanted to create the awareness that drug usage amongst teenagers and young adults is real and closer to us than we want to acknowledge. She wanted people to see that that well behaved, responsible looking child could be addicted to drugs, depressed or suicidal and that we can’t continue to pretend that all is well with our society.
Our culture is one of silence, Everything is shrouded in mystery and in my opinion the reason for this is fear. Fear that people will know our secrets, fear that people will use our knowledge and become like us, fear that we will no longer be relevant in our families and societies, fear that our testimonies will be used against us.
It is fear of what people will say, shame and being ridiculed, criticized and ostracized that has made us lock up that child with special needs, deny our loved one has a mental illness or addiction, cover up the death of that young child who died of a drug overdose or a suicide.
While I am not advocating that we invite the general public to know all the details of our private lives, we should be conscious of the fact that we have a moral burden. Yes, a burden and a responsibility to ensure that our society is a much better place because we have lived in it. Our experiences should ultimately be for the betterment of our society.
In the developed world people are not only open with their pain, they ensure that it has a purpose and a meaning and that people don’t have to suffer for what they’ve been through.
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving ) is an organization that has greatly inspired me. It was formed by a mother, Candy Lightner, after her 13-year-old daughter was hit by a car while walking to a church carnival with a friend. She was struck with such force that she was knocked out of her shoes and thrown 125 feet across the road. The driver that hit her never stopped, and it was later learnt that he had been drunk at the time of the accident and that it wasn’t his first drunk driving accident.
He had been arrested a short time earlier for another incident related to drunk driving. After police officers told her that the driver would likely receive a light punishment for killing her daughter, Candy decided to channel her anger and grief into fighting drunk driving.
“Death caused by drunk drivers is the only socially acceptable form of homicide,” she was said to have stated. In four short years she raised the public awareness to the ills of drunk driving and one of the organizations most significant accomplishments was the raising of the national legal drinking age to 21.
Coming back home, I believe that the Ransome-Kuti family, by publicly revealing that FELA died of AIDS, did much more than the radio adverts and jingles to curtail the spread of HIV because before then, the prevailing belief was that AIDS was a white man’s disease and that the black man was exempt from being infected with it.
That FELA could die of AIDS brought the dangers of sleeping with multiple partners without protection home more effectively.
There are several more examples of people that have used the devastating incidents in their lives to press for a better society or to help remove a culture of silence but we need to do more. The societies that we all want to live in today evolved to where they are because some people rose beyond their circumstances and refused to allow things to continue as they were.
I am aware of the hurdles we might face in ensuring that our society is a better place. It is still common to hear of a parent accepting some paltry sum from a person who has sexually abused their child, a minor, because of the fear of criticism from people who might feel that they have failed in their duties as a parents. There is also the fear of people knowing what has befallen their child not discounting the fact that the road to justice is long and riddled with many adjournments.
Families have left a negligent medical provider in the “hands of God” thus allowing him/her to practice freely thereby killing and maiming another person and causing their families avoidable pain.
The road to effecting change in our society may be steep but we must be consistent and persistent. In her bid to ensure no one suffered the loss of a loved one through drunk driving like she did, the founder of MADD visited her governor’s office everyday until he launched a state commission on drunk driving. Although she suffered several frustrations, her persistence paid off and has resulted in the reduction of the number of deaths of people killed through drunk driving.
It is my belief that if we must suffer in this life, something good must come out of it. There is nothing good that comes out of an experience that is not beneficial to anyone. We cannot continue to console ourselves with the thinking that God will punish everyone who does bad without seeking justice for the dead or the maimed, vulnerable and ill-treated members of our society.
I am a firm believer in the fact that we reap what we sow but there are reasons why we have a government and one of them is to execute God’s vengeance on wrong doing. Reporting a crime or making sure justice is done doesn’t mean we haven’t forgiven the offender. We leave them to face God’s judgment when we allow the law to take its course.
Do you know why the developed world is the way it is, well it is because people have used their pain to bring about a new order.