The Good Life and Us

1 Comment » April 3rd, 2009 posted by // Categories: General Articles



ewuosocornelius@yahoo.com

The writing of this present article was provoked by the recurrent issue of homosexuality which dominated the intellectual discourse of whole of last week and two other articles, Dr. Turtoe-Sanders’ article, What is your purpose?, (published in the Guardian newspaper of Wednesday, March 26, 2009) and Mr Leo Igwe’s letter which he titled; Humanists Protest House Vote Against Gay Marriage. A letter addressed to the Vanguard editor (published in Vanguard Newspaper of Friday, 27 March 2009). In this letter, Leo Igwe simply wants the President not to append his signature to the bill prohibiting same sex marriage.

In her master piece, Dr Turtoe-Sanders’s showed a laudable mastery of the scripture and an in-depth understanding of the problem which is, ‘we do not know wherein happiness lies’. My aim in this present article is not to criticize her work, but to carefully smoothen things out for better appreciation of her article and its implications for homoeroticism. To do this therefore, I shall set out to explicate ‘the end of human actions’ and ‘how’ this end can be realised.

Every human act presupposes the awareness and permission of the intellect and the freedom of the will. Now when the will freely decides to perform ‘an action’, the will must also intend the definite ‘effect’ which follows from the action. This ‘effect’ is the ‘end’. Consequently, every human act tends towards a certain end. Aristotle described this end when he said, “Every art, every inquiry and similarly, every action and pursuit is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim”. Thus, the end of an action is always a ‘good’. The prostitutes who stand in the middle of the road in search for her ‘men of flesh’, does that for a good. The man who patronises her equally does that for a good. The bandits who break into our homes to rip us off of our hard-earned money do that for a good. The corrupt public official, who embezzles money, embezzles for a good. If they do not think that these actions will bring them any good, they will never engage in it. It is characteristic of the will to always strive for what the intellect proposes for it as the good and to shun what it says is evil.

The conscious state of satisfaction which the human person feels when he possesses this good is called happiness. Happiness, Aristotle says, is ‘the end of all actions’, the basic motive and the good of all human endeavours. ‘One who would not crave happiness must have no desires, and such person could not be human’. We are so made that we must seek happiness, and no one is free this. To desire happiness is nothing else than to desire that one’s will be satisfied. And this everyone desires; the prostitutes, the bandits, a morally upright man, corrupt public officials, morally lapsed policemen, a dedicated bank official and everyone. We all desire happiness; this is why we do what we do. It is for the reason of happiness.

That the human person can obtain happiness as the end of his/ her human actions is indisputable. If this were impossible, then the human person can never have any of his cravings satisfied which is absurd. Happiness or the good life, according to Aristotle, is the human person’s subjective or intrinsic last end. The human person is so made that he or she must seek this good. But then, to say we desire happiness is clearly different from saying ‘this is what will satisfy this craving in us’, this is what will make us happy hence, the question what is that objective or extrinsic last end whose possession will bring about this subjective state (happiness or the good) within the human person? Is it wealth, robbery, sex, corruption, drink or a morally blameworthy life? And so Dr Turtoe-Sanders’s question, what is your purpose in life? Do you derive joy and happiness from your material possessions? Do you derive happiness from stealing? Do you derive happiness from extorting? Do you derive happiness from embezzling?

 

As Dr Turtoe-Sanders rightly observed, people often equate the acquisition of material things with happiness and peace, but this in itself is a fundamental mistake, because none of these material things can truly satisfy the cravings in us. Happiness’, as Aristotle says, ‘is the best, noblest, and most pleasant thing in the world’, and it certainly cannot be derived from robbery, sex, drinking, embezzlement and the likes. Even the policeman who stands in the middle of the road to extort money from unsuspecting motorists or the prostitute who stands in the middle of the road, or the young man who decides to steal from a bank, or the politician who vies for the political post for the purpose of amassing wealth cannot claim to derive happiness from his or her actions. ‘All want to be happy, but not all know how to find happiness’.

Happiness does not lie in such occupations as these. It does not lie in stealing, embezzling, drinking or prostitution rather, it lies in virtuous activities. Happiness is an activity in accordance with virtue. It consists in living a good life, developing good character, and this is where Dr Turtoe-Sanders’s answer to the question, ‘what is your purpose?’, becomes handy. The goal of life is to develop good character in preparation for eternity, where our ultimate happiness lie. Developing good character implies living a morally praiseworthy life. And living a morally praiseworthy life does not in anyway imply engaging in homosexual-erotic behaviour, and this is what Mr Leo Igwe has failed to realise.

 

My contention here is not to show whether homosexual propensity is natural and therefore, good, or unnatural and hence, bad, but to show that engaging in such sexual intercourse is morally inappropriate. For this is where Adebowale Oriku, in his article; Homosexuality And African Discontents (published in Nigerian Village Square, March 30, 2009), equally missed the whole point. The issue is not whether such propensity is good or bad or whether there are Africans with such sexual tendency or not because there are, the issue here is that of determining whether it is morally praiseworthy; whether those with such sexual tendency should allow the propensity to take control or them so as to actually engage in such sexual behaviour. We do not blame or praise people for mere reasons of their propensities toward such acts for which they are either blamed or praised, but we praise or blame for actually engaging in these acts. And what we are saying is that engaging in homosexual intercourse is morally inappropriate. It is against natural order, cultural norms, moral ideals and religious beliefs.

 

Sex is designed by nature and by God to be between a ‘man’ and a ‘woman’, not a man and a man or between a woman and a woman. This is the way the natural order has designed it; this is the way God intended it. Culture has always frowned at homosexual intercourse. The moral ideal in any society is that sex should be between a man and a woman. Adebowale Oriku may be right in indicating that such sexual behaviour may not be totally alien to Africa, but do we hear of cases, in Africa, of wedding ceremonies between a man and a man? I don’t think so. This is because, it is not the ideal. Those who in engaged in such sexual act, must have done it in secret which in itself is not praiseworthy. Hence, here I will equally disagree with Dr Umukoro who had claimed in his article, Much Ado about Homosexuality (published in the Guardian newspaper March 30, 2009), that homosexuals may have their sexual intercourse in ‘secret’ and not burden the world with it. My stand here is that, such sexual intercourse should not be encouraged at all, whether in secret or in public space.

By unanimously voting against such sexual behaviour, the members of the House of Representatives have demonstrated once again that they are capable of rendering the nation a good service. They have demonstrated that it is not only money they can share, but they are equally capable of safeguarding the moral identity of the nation. By this singular vote, the members of the House of Representatives have shown that when faced with the options of a morally base western influence and a sound indigenous moral doctrine, the latter is to be preferred always. This is because, the former often leads to frustration and defeat while the later leads to peace of mind.

You know, I equally sympathize with Leo Igwe for considering the bill as oppressive, since, according to him, it will be depriving others their fundamental rights. Dear friends, what is at stake here is not a question of human rights but that of maintaining our sanity, morality and culture in this changing world. How do we project into the future without losing our moral sanity? If it were to be a question of human rights, then incest, paedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality and in fact, adultery, fornication and such sexual practices should all be legalized, since those involved in many of these sexual eroticisms are subjects of rights and duties. The issue of human rights does not come up at all, though some have tried to hinge the discourse on it, rather it is that of preserving our moral ideals. Is homoeroticism compatible with our moral ideal? How do we ‘change’ with the changing world without losing our moral identity?

Many of us believe that what will make us happy in this world is by irrationally imbibing everything that comes our way. I remember just flipping through the pages of a certain Nigerian newspaper few weeks back and what I saw was horrifying. Both the young girls and matured ones were scantily dressed. In fact, to state that they were naked is to state the obvious. But does modernity imply insanity? No, I don’t think so. And does it imply adopting any practice we observe elsewhere? Does it mean that because ‘same sex marriage’ is in vogue in other western countries, therefore, we have to begin practicing it here too? I am not sure.

There is a moral identity which must be preserved at all times here in this country, dear friends, since there can be no true happiness when this identity is lost. Hence, we ought to appreciate the members of the House of Representatives for doing this for us and I pray Yar ‘Adua’ will follow suite.

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One Response to “The Good Life and Us”

  1. Fredrick N.I says:

    Thanks for sharing your enlightened knowledge regarding sex and homosexuality with the rest of the world.

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