An Unknown Epidemic

Seamless vector pattern of a crowd of unhappy people

As I begin to write what I believe are probably the most important few lines I’ve had to piece together in quite a while, my hope and prayer is that somebody out there champions this cause far more powerfully and effectively.

For some strange reason, before taking a post breakfast nap last Saturday morning, I decided to switch on the TV. Why or how I thought the TV would aid my nap I don’t know. But switch it on I did – to CNN to be precise. Who knows, maybe I subconsciously wanted to know what Trump might have got up to during the night.

Showing on CNN was a documentary on mental illness – the negative impact of the immense pressures that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs face on a daily basis. In summary, the documentary featured characters who had fallen prey to the most subtle and deadly illness of our world today. As I watched that programme, with my mood becoming more and more somber, I couldn’t help but wonder whether such absurd pressures are restricted to silicon valley.

Today’s world is fast paced, results oriented, and brutally competitive; with most individuals, be they adults or children, measuring their worth / value by what they have, what they’ve achieved, what people think of them, how many followers they have etc etc – the list is endless.

According to WebMd.com;

‘Although the exact causes of most mental illnesses is not known, it is becoming clear through research that many of these conditions are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors’.

Fast forward to what WebMd.com has to say about environmental factors.

‘Certain stressors can trigger an illness in a person who is susceptible to mental illness.

1. Death or divorce

2. Dysfunctional family

3. Feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, or loneliness

4. Social or cultural expectations (for example a society that associates beauty with thinness can be a factor in the development of eating disorders).

5. Substance abuse by the person or the person’s parents’

For the sake of Nigeria, let’s focus on 3 and 4.

Our society is one in which ‘worth’ is very much determined by the substance or otherwise of one’s ‘material’ wealth – bank balance, properties, cars, etc. etc.

– Success is measured purely in terms of material wealth

– The level of one’s Christianity is measured by and large in terms of material gain

– The depth of God’s love is measured by assets and bank balances

– A man’s potential to be loved is measured by his ‘potential’ for ‘Success’

– The depth of God’s love for a woman is often measured by her status in life – married or single
In other words if an individual has none, or very little of the above – assets, money or other forms of material wealth, love, a wife / husband, girlfriend / boyfriend, then he or she will quite naturally feel as though something is acutely wrong (with him /her). And as such, feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, low self-esteem, and loneliness are a natural consequence.

During the past few weeks, my profession as a Sales and Customer Service expert has taken me across much of Nigeria – Abuja, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Asaba, Warri, Ilorin, Akure, Abeokuta, Ibadan, to name a few. The one thing I noticed about all the different states/ towns/villages I visited was the countless number of church billboard adverts – most of them more or less selling material wealth. After a while I kept having to ask God to forgive me for my getting more and more irritated with each passing billboard. For I couldn’t help thinking, ‘so many churches, and yet so much poverty. So many churches, and yet so many faces of frustration, anxiety, and anger’.

If I’m perfectly honest, I’ve often succumbed to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety as a result of feeling I’m not doing well enough. It’s a natural consequence of the society we live in.

The more I dwell on this debilitating illness the more I wonder how many people out there are suffering in silence. With more and more incidents of suicide, and countless sudden deaths, one wonders how ‘healthy’ our society really is. And it doesn’t end there. Are those that continue to plunder the nation’s resources really okay? After-all a poverty mentality is simply another symptom of this awful sickness. It’s this same mentality that’s driving young ladies to eagerly seek for men that can give them the material lift they so desperately desire.

Is it any wonder at all that frustration, anxiety, low-self-esteem, and depression have become so prevalent in our environment??

When one looks at the current state of our society it’s clear to see that things are pretty much upside down.

Our society / environment desperately needs help. There needs to be a change of mindset – what is truly important, and how we perceive ourselves and each another. Unless we rescue this nation from what is already an epidemic then the spiral descent will fast become an irreversible free-fall.

Our church leaders need to take a good look around and ask themselves this very important question;

“Have we contributed to the demise of our nation’s social fabric?”

Jesus says His ‘yoke is light’.

But the more churches focus on material wealth, the tighter those nooses fasten on the necks of their congregation.

So many churches, so many collections of tithes and offering – and yet so much frustration, so much anxiety, so much anger, so much poverty – varying degrees of mental illness.

I yearn for a day when churches will no longer pressure their congregation for tithes and offerings; when ministers focus on the importance of ‘Love, Forgiveness, and Tolerance’, as against material gain. Too many tired and debilitated minds need it. Indeed, the very fabric of this nation demands it.

If you are as concerned about our current plight as I am, then please say this prayer with me;
‘Lord Jesus, you tell us your yoke is light. This nation needs you Lord. Please open our eyes to what is really important. Open our eyes to the healing power of Love, Forgiveness, and Tolerance. Help us to become less of ourselves and more of you. In Jesus name, Amen.’

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