Today is the birthday of Patrick Ifeanyi Nky Obi
I normally do not care about birthdays, including mine. However, when I saw that of this wonderful, one-in-a- century work of God, I could not resist wishing him a happy birth day. At a point of being dejected about the nature of man, what Dr. Obi does and the way he lives renew our hope that man is intrinsically good, but most of them, prompted by stomach infrastructure misbehave now and then. Patrick has grown above those side attractions and can be described as a highly emancipated person.
I have seen enough of man to even lose hope in him. What I wrote on social media yesterday (Thursday) will tell you that man (used in generic term to include women) is most times a bundle of contradictions and highly unreliable, but not so with Engr. Obi. He is a man you can go to war with in full confidence that nothing will distract him from following the noble way. He does not belong to the tribe that will be ready to flay his friends alive because he is seeking the friendship of the Caudulo.
This above is not just my submission, it is equally the submission of those that have worked with him, as well as that of his numerous students, for our man lectured at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University and now is at Michael Okpara Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike.
But apart from exceptional ones such as our subject, are you really surprised at what man does in contradictory confusion? Naturally, man is more animal than man. He has his humanity thrust upon him through worldly contact with civilization and education. This makes him to have more lucid intervals. While some struggle to move away from animal instincts, some become becalmed in it. We see it daily in the behavior of people, especially the political class and those we cheerfully refer to as erats. They remind me of the play: “one, two follow your leader.” Truly they do so without asking where he is leading them to. We see it daily being exhibited by those that are infatuated with “Egwu Abuja.”
Speaking about man, and what he is capable of doing. General Olusegun Obasanjo called him an animal (Do you remember his book entitled “The Animal called Man?). Man is an imperfect creature, a mixture of saint and sinner, sometimes bold, sometimes timid, at one moment unbelievably generous, at another incredibly ruthless, sometimes rational, at other times naively credulous.
Daily we witness man sinning and confessing, saying A and doing B, playing and quarreling, betraying old, long friends because of crumbs or to be in the good books of powers that be, following people foolishly for diverse reasons including “Egwu Abuja”, going wearily to work and to school, stealthily to brothels, humbly to prayers, professing love and belief in their benefactors but betraying them with the clear conscience of nature. Man is stepped in the sea of controversy.
Concerning this, Blaise Pascal in his “Penses” called man a chimera, which in Greek mythology, was she-goat with lion’s head and serpents tail. “What a chimera is man! What a novelty, a monster, chaos, a contradiction.”
The nether and contradictory side of man is seen when he acts out of what Spinoza called the “dictatorship of passion unaided by human reason.” That is when he allows the heat of passion and what we now cheerfully call “stomach infrastructure and Egwu Abuja” to becloud his sense of reasoning.
Confucius knew the nature of man, Confucius knew the weaknesses inherent in this nature. He said that the only way to conquer this nature is to strive consciously to become a “higher man”, somebody who has moved away from man in the Hobbesian State of nature” where life was short, nasty and brutish. This doctrine is known as the “Confucian Doctrine of the Higher Man.” The higher man, he said, has nine things which are subjects with him of thoughtful consideration. In regard to the use of his eyes he is anxious to see clearly. In regard to the countenance he is anxious that it should be respectful. In regard to his speech, he is anxious that it should be sincere. In regard to his doing business he is anxious that it should be reverently careful. In regard to what he doubts about he is anxious to question others. In regard to what he hears, he is anxious if it is the true. In regard to his behavior, he is anxious that it is not pretentious. WHEN HE IS ANGRY HE THINKS OF THE DIFFICULTIES HIS ANGER MAY INVOLVE HIM IN. When he sees gain to be got he thinks of righteousness.
This precious piece of advice from philosophers is one of the reasons why I always encourage everybody to endeavour and read a bit of philosophy now and then.
It will be nice if we read more profoundly Confucius’ doctrine of the “Higher Man” for our edification. However, if we want practical demonstration of those doctrines, I urge you to study the life of Engr. Dr. Patrick Obi as we wish him, including my family and I, happy birthday today.