You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2017 05 17Article 538394

Opinions of Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Columnist: Anis Haffar

God helps those who help themselves

My attention was stirred by a caption culled from President Nana Akufo Addo’s 2017 May Day Address posted by the Accra based Citi 97.3 Fm radio. The caption read as follows:

Lazy habits that enforce poverty

“We arrive at work late and then spend the first hour in prayer; we become clock watchers and leave in the middle of critical work because it is the official closing time. Everything comes to a stop when it rains and we seem to expect the rest of the world also to stop.

“We have no respect for the hours set aside for work. We pray; we eat; we visit during working hours.

We spend hours chatting on the telephone. We take a week off for every funeral and then we wonder why we are not competitive.” The president charged the leadership of the various unions to lead a campaign to change that deplorable attitude.

A leader’s unflinching grit to look at his people straight in the face and tell them the uncomfortable but necessary truths is the stuff of which greatness is made.

That courage reminded me of the recent conference organized by the Methodist University College (at M Plaza, Accra, 27th – 28th March, 2017) dubbed “International Conference on Entrepreneurship, Business & Technology” (ICEBUT).

In his opening address, the president had urged Ghanaians “to desist from hiding behind the cloak of religiosity to indulge in habits that have robbed the state of countless hours of productive time.”

Slated to be a keynote speaker and seated on the dais right next to the podium from which the president spoke, I could not help nodding over and over, feeling the president’s passion radiate from a committed sense of purpose.

He said, “We come to work and spend the first hour or more not on the job that we are paid to do but on prayers. We go to all-night prayers and we come to work the next day tired and unfit for any purpose. We take out one week for every funeral and expect our businesses to thrive because we invoked the names of the Almighty.”

Progress comes from hard work, not miracles

The President noted that the country was in danger of getting things out of balance and allowing our lives to be taken over completely by a narrow interpretation of religion. He was concerned that an increasing number of people seemed to think that success in all fields of endeavour was dependent on miracles and not hard work.

The openness was most welcome in the sense that opportunistic leaders tend to shy away from telling the truth to their people; but there’s sharp distinction between serious work and incantations for manna to drop effortlessly from heaven. The biblical parable of the talents is a serious reminder that for those who work, more shall be added; but for the sloth, the little they have shall be taken away.

The quality of experience of people who transform their environment and create healthier, fruitful surroundings is clearly more developed as well as more enjoyable than those who resign themselves to all-night vigils and prayers! If you were God, which of the two kinds of people would you respect and support? Work not only adds value by building bridges across rivers and cultivating barren lands, it transforms a person from a derelict stranded by wishful thoughts, into a conscious, goal-directed, skillful individual full of life and purpose, and with the ability to help others to better their lot.

It’s an insult to God, to expect Him to come down and clean the mess we create, to fill our pot holes, clean the gutters while the so-called prophets regale themselves in limousines, suits and gold ornaments.

Sensible lessons from serious nations

Floating anonymously from a genius in cyberspace are the following productive lessons worth sharing:

 “After independence, in order to build a great nation, each country went to work. But in Ghana, after independence, our people went to pray and fast. So, while we were praying, Malaysia came here and took our palm seedlings and built great factories for it. While we were praying, Singapore went into investment in technology.

“While we were praying, India went into ICT. While we were praying, China went into massive industrialization. While we were praying, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) went into massive infrastructural development.

While we were praying and casting Lucifer, Japan went into technological development.

“While we were speaking in tongues, Denmark went into the education of her citizens. While we were mounting big speakers in our places of worship, USA was mounting a man on the moon.

“After our prayers, God, being a wise God decided to reward us according to our labour. Since then, those that went into industrialization, technology, infrastructural development, ICT, education etc. have been rewarded accordingly. It’s only wise God rewards us for our efforts, not prayers.

“That is why today, Ghana’s pastors are competing in building the biggest churches. That is why there are more prayer houses and worship places than hospitals and schools. That is why people rush to prayer houses for medical solutions instead of hospitals.

“Ghana is a prayer loving, God fearing nation. Religion has taken the place of technology, infrastructure, education etc. When travelling, we ignore all the necessary road requirements, the servicing of our vehicles and pray.

And, once we pray, we put half serviced vehicles on the road and blame our step-mothers or mothers-in-law if anything goes wrong. It’s “Obonsam’s” fault. That is why there are more people dying on our roads.”

Godliness resides in the commitment to the good work we do; the blessings flow from the quality of that work; there are neither godliness nor blessings in a void of laziness and apathetic all-night prayers. God helps those who help themselves. Amen!