By Rev Fr Angelo Chidi Unegbu (cangelo123@yahoo.com)

An aged and weak Lion noticed that it was losing strenght and vigour which adversely affected it’s hunting skills. What he was left to survive on were the wounded, trapped, sick and unsuspecting animals. These were however rare to come by in the jungle. Fearing for its life, one day, it sent emmissary to other animals, who were not aware of its challenges. The message is that the lion has henceforth decided to be feeding only on the animals that work against it. The other animals became curious to know how to avoid falling into this category. Working against him were those who make noise whenever it is on transit thereby warning and alerting other animals of its presence. “Anyone who desists from doing that will be saved”, it assured them. The animals accepted the deal and went home happily. That was how the Lion effortlessly got a free buffett for the rest of it’s old age and retirement.

Our leaders also employ the same tactic while dealing with us. How often have they told us by words and actions that if we don’t criticize or oppose their evil policies that we shall live, but if on the contrary we dare criticize them, we shall be accused of hate speech and be thrown into prison or even killed? And how often have we believed that? Thus, we don’t protest anymore because if we “make noise” we shall be killed; no more agitations because if we do we may die; no more opposition because if we do that they will find reasons to jail us. Journalists have suddenly become afraid of reporting issues the way they happened. Even our pastors or men and women of God can no longer talk against the wickedness and ineptitude of our leaders because their lives are at stake.

And those who dare “make noise” are always warned by relatives and friends: “Please cool down, these people are evil ooo,” “they can kill ooo,” “you are not the only one that will make this country good” and so on. Hearing these, we sheath our swords of reason, truth and justice and put on the cloak of fear. And we go into our shells, putting on the mask of “God will fight for us” and pretend to be blind, dumb, deaf and lame to reality around us because we don’t want to die.

Our people now live in fear that even to like, comment or share a message that they find to be true is difficult. Many of us have adjusted ourselves to the mode of don’t talk, don’t ask and don’t answer because we want to live.

And I ask: who did the seminarian Michael Nnadi criticize? What of the doctor and his entire family that were kidnapped? What of the two priests matcheted together with 13 worshippers? Have we forgotten the Enugu priest that was kidnapped and killed? What of the Kaduna CAN president, thousands of Boko Haram victims and thousands killed by the herdsmen and kidnappers? What do you say about those killed by the traps in form of roads, hospitals or the diabolic economic policies set by our leaders? Who did they criticize? Not talking or surrendering to fear is no guarantee that you will live. It is rather a guarantee that more people will die.

That is exactly what the enemy wants us to do: to live in fear so that he will have the freedom to scavenge without restraint. In fact, I even suspect that the devil is really bewildered at our cowardice, naivity and stupidity. He never believed human beings could be so manipulated. Fear turns a people into Zombies, good leaders into dictators and tyrannts into monsters.

Nothing has proved more powerful in wiping out a people than fear because it destroys the community spirit to stand together since it creates room for sycophancy, selfishness, backbiting, division, scramble, anarchy and confusion among them.

If we stop yielding to the fears, more lives would be saved. If we decide to hold the leaders accountable, no matter how loud they roar at us, more lives would be saved. United in spirit and action, no people can be defeated.

Nations are not developed by benevolent leaders rather by a formidable people who are not ready to bulge to intimidation or bend to fear. European nations were not developed by good leaders but by people who refused to bow to fear. Despite the roars of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin and so on, the Europeans refused to redefine justice and truth. Today, they are free. When a people do not give room to fear and remain united in truth, justice and hard work, their prosperity is “sure banker.” A society that chose to live in fear will only live in tears.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the prophets, the early Christians, men and women that have made positive contributions to our world were people who conquered fear even in the face of death. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry “Abba! Father!” (Rom.8:15).

When Americans once lived in fear, they suffered under the servitude of Britain, but when they conquered fear, they became free and prosperous.

A famous adage says: “if you don’t bend no one can climb your back” but when you are afraid people will not just climb your back, they will match on you and they will break you.

We must silence this irrational voice in us that tells us that fear is salvific if we must bulid a nation that we can proudly call our own. If we don’t, our fears will conglomerate into a furnace that will cosume all of us. Fear is destructive. It is diabolical. It does not come from God. Faith actually counteracts fear. In all that we do, let us be guided by the constant admonition of Jesus: “Do not be afraid.” (Matt. 14:27).

Never give in to the antics and intimidation of the lions around you, including the old tricky one!

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