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By Michael Omisore,CNB News

Recently, there have been some agitation and clamour among parents and educators in the country against a new fad and identity that appears to have been brought by a certain entertainer which seems to be sweeping today’s youths off their feet. The outcry is on the basis that the new fad may be influencing the young ones wrongly because of the perceived wrong values and behaviours it tends to project, which seems to be eroding our collective conscience regarding moral uprightness and cultural ethics.

Without drawing any unnecessary attention to any particular entertainer here, I want to first state that such vehement outcry by those whose conscience is still intact is basically misdirected. Entertainment is a legitimate trade pursued largely in a legitimate manner. If an entertainer appears offensive in his content, delivery and package, petitions should be directed to relevant regulatory bodies that can clamp down on his excesses. Making aimless fuss and noise on such issue may just be working the opposite, making the entertainer to be unnecessarily more popular and his ideas more embraced by unwary and unformed youths.

Who then is to be blamed when the world goes berserk luring our youths with immoral offerings? Without any excuse, it is the people responsible for the proper upbringing of the youths: parents, educators and the whole right wing of the society who have not sold their soul to depravity. We shouldn’t blame entertainers for doing what they feel is right when those that know what is right will not step up to the plate to voice their own. How many accomplished well-meaning people in our society have come up with packaged contents showing today’s youths and students the proper way and helping them to rightly navigate life? How many youth-focused efforts and initiatives are we floating, engaging or supporting?Yet, entertainers are composing songs and rhymes every day for our youths to sing and dance. One may judge their motive but in sincerity one can hardly fault the tenacity in their pursuit, thus their results.

If the people that complain about the excesses of entertainers can also be as tenacious in constructively passing across their own message, we will have far less juvenile delinquency cases to deal with. I belong to an advocacy group called Concerned Parents and Educators which has made this month of February its advocacy month on saving the education system in the country using different avenues and platforms to advance that cause and with a massive open dialogue scheduled for Lagos to round off the month. Talk about thousands of people rising at the same time to lend their voice to a common cause! For any individual or party interested in seeing a change in values in the society, that is one way to go!

The situation at hand is actually weightier than what can be the doing of one rave of the moment. It is an issue of vacuum. And in reality, as science itself subscribes, there is hardly vacuum in any free accessible space.In 1962, American lawmakers pushed the law to banish prayer from public schools across that country and as a result created a vacuum regarding the moral emphasis children and students ought to imbibe and adopt.The contention then was against a simple prayer which,every day in school, students across a district were made to say aloud, ‘Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country’. According to social commentators, the country since then has suffered decline in the four areas this simple prayer covers: youths, family, education and national identity.

Apparently, the vacuum created by the prayer ban,followed by Bible-reading ban a year later, wasn’t there for long as other ideologies crept in contrary to what obtained before. It is so consequential that many more American youths today, according to commentators,need to decisively return to the godly principles which the nation itself was founded on, a nation whose first president, George Washington, was quoted to have said, ‘I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable title, the character of an honest man’, and another as prominent as he was, Abraham Lincoln, said, ‘My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.’There is really no vacuum; take something away, something else will fill the space.

Even with the above example of vacuum created by a state, there is still no excuse on a personal level. Why? Children’s first influencers ought to be parents then educators. And these potential role models are meant to fill their wards with good values, whether or not government policy or societal law or trend approves of such. The two former American presidents mentioned earlier attributed their turning right in life to their parents. President Washington, who did not have a formal education, said, ‘All that I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.’ President Lincoln, who failed many times in his political aspirations before succeeding, said almost the same, ‘All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.’ Ever before a child gets really exposed to the outside world in ways that will be so tempting, parents and guardians ought to have done their homework well to drive in the right values into the child. I do not underestimate the decadence in the society. I do not underrate the pull of depravity on the youths. I only align with the scriptural thought that if you train a child in the way he should go, he will not depart from it when he grows up. Even at this time when vices are on the increase and delinquency is rife, the question still remains, where are the role models? Where are the promoters of good values?

Maybe, the reason people responsible for the upbringing of the child are passing the bulk is because they lack the drive or motivation to be a change agent. There is however a driver that can be employed for the purpose, one from which every good value can be built from. This driver is not something strange to us. It is what many of us profess but we need to appropriately apply to achieve the much-needed result. The driver is faith and by faith I do not mean some religious colouration that say something and do something else; that is either fanaticism or some sort of delusion.There is a whole lot of difference between these two extremes and faith. Both can be drivers as well but their results will definitely be poles apart from that of faith. While faith ensures middle-of-the-road safety, fanaticism and delusion are ditches on respective sides.

Faith goes with godly virtues, fanaticism and delusion stray into recklessness. Faith follows the Golden Rule, fanaticism turns away,and delusion can’t be bothered.Faith upholds humanity, fanaticism suppresses it while delusion trivialises it. Faith keeps a true conscience, fanaticism invents a false mind, while delusion gets a fake one. Faith breeds love and consideration for all, fanaticism breeds hate and contempt, delusion breeds carelessness and half-heartedness, letting down its faith guard. Faith is fervent, fanaticism is overzealous, delusion is dispirited in the true things of faith. Fanaticism buries its head in the ground in obstinacy, delusion throws caution to the wind in defiance, but faith prompts and leads the heart in obedience.Faith looks itself in the mirror and appreciates itself. Delusion leaves the mirror and forgets who it truly is. Fanaticism breaks the mirror into pieces. Fanaticism turns faith into a weapon against itself, delusion makes faith to eat up itself leaving it without substance, but faith keeps its godly substance through watching and praying, making one to serve the Lord God and worship Him only. No colouration, no contamination!

Fanaticism and delusion are faith without providential reasoning, and education itself is a contributor to that reasoning because the mind and intellect are God-given, helping to keep faith in check regarding civility, comportment and order.While fanaticism always tends to be against education, and delusion takes ethics and morals away from education, faith goes along with the ideals of education, fairly establishing one indecency, equity and justice. Faith will make one choose what is right not just what is convenient, what is proper not just what is trending. Faith tends to keep one in the right company, not sitting with the scornful and standing with sinners. Faith makes one to remember the son of whom he is, this referring more to the Maker than a parent. Faith holds an identity of its own that will not make one to easily succumb to peer or societal pressure leading to sin. And faith is there to pick one up even when one falls.

Once faith is stripped of every layer of fanaticism and delusion, we have a pure unadulterated substance that can ward off worldly attacks on morality, not always in a defensive manner, but owning and brandishing its own virtues and values out there for the world to see. Who says that our children are at the mercy of some popular personalities on the side of delusion, or some twisted policy that may be put forth? No doubt, there will not be a vacuum because the world will continue to portray and promote its own, filling young minds with what it judges okay, whether or not it is morally or ethically justified. The onus is on parents, educators, and well-meaning people in the society who feel they owe it to the younger generation to lead them on the right path, to stand at their respective post of duty and pass down the right values through words and deeds, precepts and examples, so that we can have far less casualties among the youths who are being lured away by wrong fads and trends. The reality is, no matter the luxuries we offer or don’t offer the younger generation, collective conscience will not judge us right if the children and students in our care grow up to become morally bankrupt.

Incidentally, I personally belong to these three categories of promoters of right values by virtue of role and endeavour. So, as a parent, I urge likeminded parents not to neglect the family altar and other gentle disciplines of handing down faith to children and wards. As an educator, I advise school owners, both public and private, to allow for at least a weekly worship time in school encouraging students to participate with sincere and open heart. As a well-meaning member of the society who cherishes the sanctity of faith and right values and has experienced firsthand the connection between the two, I call on all my kind in different walks of life to rise and lend their voice and support to the cause of promoting godly values that will make us all to be proud of the upcoming generation tomorrow. And pure unadulterated faith is a good driver option. We stand a better chance of turning the minds of today’s youths away from evil by it.

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