Wed, Oct

What is this Life?

“What is this life if full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare”

I think the poem sums up the life of many who today find life so full of problems and tensions that there is little, if any time, to relax, think, and enjoy God's bounties.

I know of no religion or philosophy of life which teaches or suggests that human beings were created by a sadistic supreme being. The beauty and bounty of the earth were created for the appreciation, pleasure, and enjoyment of men and women. If there is no pleasure in life then the fault lies with man and not the Giver of life. True pleasure comes from achievement. As communities grow to become large societies, knowledge, understanding and organisation are needed to expand and enrich the bounties of life for the benefit of all.

Leading role

Society rightly appoints representatives to lead in the provision of the good life for all. Unfortunately, many exploit the leadership role. Many support bad leadership provided they benefit from the regime. But truth is indivisible, and eventually when the bad practice continues, values snap at the seams. Our leaders may not be that good, but we the people must accept the ultimate responsibility for their bad deeds. We have the great opportunity at election time to examine the proposals and intentions of our prospective leaders. It is not easy to resolve the problems of modern society. It is not easy for the government to improve the education system and enable the people to acquire satisfying jobs and adequate housing. We the people provide the resources and should insist on the proper utilisation of our taxes and contributions. We should rigorously examine the proposals of those who seek our votes and be suspicious of those who promise so much without any sacrifices from us. 

Above all, we should try to understand how the economy works. Our economists, finance and development experts know a lot and we should listen to them. But we should insist that they explain the plans of those they represent. We should be bold to admit what we do not understand and request and ask for further explanation. Often, the experts themselves do not fully understand what they tell us.

We should not be weighed down so much by the cares of life that we have no time to reflect and think.

To go back to the learning of poems at school, at a class examination  we were asked to select one stanza of any poem we had learnt during the term, write down the stanza in full, and answer a number of questions about the poem.

Poems at school

Most of us were so weighed down by the fear of examination that we did not stop “to stare and think”. We selected a long poem and had great difficulty in recollecting it exactly, let alone answering well the many questions asked about its meaning, rhythms etc.

A good friend of mine, RR Amponsah, who is no more, was the only one who was not overwhelmed by the “care” of examination, and therefore, quoted a poem whose first stanza consisted of only two lines:

"What is this life if full of care

We have no time to stand and stare."

The master exclaimed when he returned our marked papers.

“Amponsah, you have got me. I had to give you 9 out of 10, but you did not deserve it.”

Life may be full of cares, but we can make much of it if we find time to be still, reflect, and think.