EDUPEACE | Don’t worry, be happy!

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In September 1988, the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was released by the American musician, Bobby McFerrin, to popular acclaim. It was aptly described by a critic as a “formula for facing life’s trials” because that is exactly what it is. A timeless message that speaks to the soul of our disconsolate world, the singer stridently addresses us thus: “In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry you make it double.”

Meanwhile, the same message was brought to life in a more evocative and memorable form when it inspired another song of the same title by the duo of Amitabh Bachchan and Manhar Udhas in the 1989 Bollywood blockbuster, “Toofan”. For many people who were growing at the time, including me, the Indian movie legend struck an unforgettable chord in their hearts with the song, especially the chorus, “Don’t worry, be happy!”

The world is made of over 7.8 billion people and each one of this huge number is contending with some problems. It doesn’t really matter who the person is, from the strongest, the richest and the most powerful to the weakest, the poorest and the most vulnerable. It therefore appears normative that problems or challenges are part and parcel of life as they even make life lively. Whatever challenges you or anyone else may be facing, just know that you are not alone.

There are indeed many issues ordinarily to worry about: weapons of mass destruction, arms race, terrorism, poverty, politics of exclusion, oppression, hunger, crime, diseases, natural disasters, childlessness, marriage, unemployment, racism, brutality, man’s inhumanity to man and a million more. But why should you worry?

It is Gaur Gopal Prabhu who talked about the needlessness of worry. I found that submission compelling for everyone’s peace of mind. “Do you have a problem in life?” If no, which is seldom the answer, there is no cause for worry. Then, if the answer to the question is yes, there is another question: can you do something about it? If the answer is yes, then why worry, since you can fix it? In the same token, if the answer is no, then, why worry, since you can’t fix it?

In all instances, therefore, there is no cause of worry for problems that can be solved and those that defy solutions. Blake Leeper, an award-winning Paralympic athlete, said something memorable about life. According to him, “Life is 10% of what you’re dealt with and 90% on how you deal with it. The fact that I was born without legs, that’s my 10%. But I still have 90% to show the world what I truly could do… I am born without legs and I can run. So imagine what you can do with your life.” That’s the power attitude.

Education will be ultimately useless without asking the necessary questions and being happy in spite of all the problems around us. Happiness is certainly a choice, just like sadness or worry. Which one would you rather choose? Happiness of course! What people worried about 500 years ago are no longer our worries today. Your own worries would pale into insignificance in a matter of time. Therefore, don’t worry, be happy!

In a world that is full of challenges that take one’s breath away, there are five choices to make for one to be at peace and remain happy. These choices are that we should love God, since everyone will return to Him sooner or later. There is definitely some tranquility that descends on the soul that is conscious of God as the Alpha and Omega. If you find God and live His purpose, you will find happiness and fulfillment that you are not leading a vacuous life. The polish for the heart is the remembrance of God and the greatest of richness is the richness of the soul. Be spiritual.

Meanwhile, loving God is not complete without loving His work, His creation and creatures, especially fellow men and women irrespective of where they come from and their colors. The love of God finds expression in the way you treat His creatures, with compassion and mercy, with understanding and love. When you love others without measure, your life is also abundant without measure because life is reciprocal.

When asked about the most favored in this life, the best of mankind responded: “Happiness also consists of forgiving others, not because they deserve it all the time but because we deserve our peace of mind.” It is counter-productive to allow someone you despise to occupy a space he doesn’t pay for in your heart. Allied to this is doing good all the time because the goodness or “service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth,” as Muhammad Ali famously said.

Then, don’t harm people. The Prophet said, “The best of among you is the one who doesn’t harm others with his tongue and hands.” You do not do evil to those who do evil to you but you deal with them with forgiveness and kindness. Through that, positivity will spread as you choose happiness and you ignore the negativity of worry. Don’t worry, be happy!

COVID-19 PANDEMIC AS DOUBLE WHAMMY FOR EDUCATION

As observed by the United Nations, the Coronavirus pandemic has brought about “the largest disruption of education systems in history” as millions of schools and institutions have remained shut for some six months now. But as ignorance is more deadly than COVID-19, some countries like Nicaragua, Sweden and Taiwan still managed not to lock down their schools at all whereas in many other countries, education delivery only shifted online.

However, in African and many other developing countries, Coronavirus is a double whammy for education as there was crisis already before the pandemic-induced crisis. There are several millions of out-of-school children and the available facilities are anti-learning. To save the present and the future, it is imperative that as schools and institutions gradually open all over the world, African governments should pay more attention to bridging the digital divide between them and the world.

They should be investing in digital platforms and Information Technology now so that education delivery can be done both physically and virtually while still maintaining safety protocols. It shall be well!

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