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Opinions of Saturday, 30 March 2019

Columnist: Julius Kwesi Hamenoo

The Cathedral and taxpayers overexcitement

Am motivated to share this simple concern, after listening to a beautiful video presentation on social media, made by some proponents of job creation, rather than building a cathedral to honour a pledge.

Most especially building it with the taxpayer's money. Well, if only the taxpayer's money is going to be used to put it up, then the taxpayer’s have the right, as it were, to be concerned about how their money is going to be used.

According to those I heard from, when people get jobs, they would hardly be predisposed to do evil. They would be focused on going to work much more than being prevailed upon to commit stealing, in the case of men, and fornication in the case of women, and some other petty misdemeanours.

As if to imply that, the commitment to doing silly or evil things is dependent on the wealth status of a person. And what does that mean? That poor people are necessarily prone to doing evil things? That the devil's workshop is in poor peoples mind? And that those who are gainfully employed in jobs created are necessarily also prone to doing good? And God is always on their mind because they are preoccupied with work and have money?

It’s may not be that simplistic though. Sociologists and psychologists would be tempted to differ on some of these assertions given as reasons behind the tendency to commit unsavoury actions. But as Christians, I should assume that they understood that verse; where Jesus asked the rich man to go and sell his properties, share the proceeds among the poor, and come back to him. Probably to take up his cross and walk with him.

What happened thereafter, I presume they would say, that, it happened over two thousand years ago. And so it’s irrelevant today. Of course, what else is relevant these days apart from money! But those against the building of the Cathedral, in general, can be seen to be fuming with anger, if not suspicion and mistrust, because of the wiles of the Church these days.

Most of the churches, if not all of them, have one commodity to sell: Jesus. They package and brand and advertise him in different ways then lure the people to buy. They rake in so much money from gullible and innocent congregations, pay no taxes to the state on their income for developmental purposes for the same people, buy foreign currency to hedge against depreciation of their wealth, and put loads of pressure on the local currency.

Have they become more of business enterprises than charity organizations? Religious institutions are supposed to provide charitable acts to the needy, and downtrodden, if not places for us to go and charge our spiritual batteries. Other than that, those crimes that the against say are associated with poverty; which are stealing and fornication and what have you, if we should examine them quite critically and with a sense of honesty, are these not rather the pastime of those that have, much more than those that need?

We also tend to be suspicious, arrogant and have the tendency to look down on others when we have than when we need. We think ourselves blessed. And we have the temerity to look ourselves in the mirror and assume a pious posture before simple and humble souls.

Some unemployed boys and gals may sneak out to steal and straddle, out of the frustration of not getting a job whilst hungry. Yet some employed men and women do the same at their workplaces. In their offices too, some do all manner of clandestine things with pens, phones and computers.

The love for mundane things tends to increase in us when we are getting money than when we have nothing. Thereby increasing the greed to want more, and seeing it as the usual path when climbing the ladder of success. We become addicted to amassing wealth mostly to show off and inflate our inferior social statuses. Prop up our tumbled ego and use it to feel that we are superior to others, or better than those below our socioeconomic standing.

It’s not surprising, the church itself has become the foremost ground where such simplistic messages are preached. So the congregation have bought into equating money with blessings. Every little mishap is rather attributed to the devil. The result of our slow-wittedness, proceeding from our being lazy to seek knowledge, being impatient and ignorant at times, are all thrown at the devil as his fault.

The church will never tell us to be responsible for our own actions, if not foolishness. I have posited before, that most of those that have, if not all of them, borrow the opinion of those that need in order to feel important and contented. But when left alone in their privacy, even with their wealth around them, most of them are as miserable as an ignorant poor city dweller. We are always in a hurry to go out there and impress simple souls with our material things. That is how some of us feel alive.

Those against the building of the Cathedral come from the Christian stock even more. If this is not the manifestation of the coming of the dying days of Christianity, someone should offer the alternative reason.

Tax payers money? So what?

As Christians, is getting job and money more vital to life than having God? We don’t even know what we can do with having God. We should offer a much better reason for not building it than because of the use of tax payers money or creating jobs rather.

The Muslim should rather be concerned about that. But except for political expediency they are not even bothered at all. They understand and revere the building of a place of worship.

Christians are comfortable when they give money to their pastors as offering and tithes and welfare dues and ‘Kofi na Ama’ and contributions to all manner of projects for their individual churches. Over the years, couldn’t such monies have built ten Cathedrals in this country?

Paul, had exhorted, I think, in one of his epistles to the Galatians that, the Christian Church should reconcile.

How many years has it been since he said so? Should not this idea of building a Cathedral have become the opportunity for Christians to seize? And unite their concerns to bring about what Paul had said? Reconciliation of the Christian church, where they would gather occasionally to give thanks and praises to God?

But here some are, present on social media, flooding messages and videos against the building of a Cathedral, with all manner of juicy reasons and excuses other than the love of God. And as usual, targeting the emotions of listeners and viewers instead of their heads. Because they know that most of us live from the basements, and not from upstairs. Let’s ask ourselves, what do most of us really do with our money when we get paid our fat salaries? That is not to say we shouldn’t work and get paid. And these don’t apply to everybody.

But apart from dressing to impress ourselves and others, buying cars and building houses and stuffing them with things to lull reasoning, and eating gourmet foods in fancy restaurants, and chasing women and gals to quench a libido, swaggering about in our little communities with pride and some false sense of satisfaction, what do we really do with it? Oh, I remember, we horde it in banks and in some financial instruments that promised higher interest rates. And these are how we secure our future. No wonder God is no more relevant to us.

Not all people become victims of their success. There are many beautiful souls out there who have become a plus to humanity in their individual capabilities. Refined souls indeed!

But was a religion not meant to assuage the pangs of wretchedness in those that become victims of the system? As brought down on a people because of some politicians greed and shortsightedness? Was religion not meant to give consolation to those that are weak, poor and marginalized? So that their genuine meditations and communion with God would rather open for them a hope to be with Christ?

Are they saying that the countries that have the lowest unemployment rates, are those that have the lowest crime rates too? We should endeavour to know how many people commit suicide in some of these high employment rates countries in a year. Not to mention their crime rates. And ask why they do so.nThat isn’t an excuse to spend the taxpayer's money and not be accountable to them. However, what is Caesar’s must be given unto Caesar. And let’s allow God to have His due.

Whether we build it or not, what will improve the quality of life, of a people, is to pursue knowledge in a revolutionary style. The only thing that would perish a people is lack of knowledge. And the Prophet Mohammed had also said, that, one hour of pursuing knowledge is better than seventy years of praying without it. After all, jobs could only make us effective slaves to industries that have been the creations of other people who pursued superior knowledge.

Yes. By all means, jobs are absolutely necessary, if not important. But some of the social intervention policies that have had the government’s commitment to their entrenchment have not been quantified in our lives. In the absence of jobs, they are meant to mitigate our suffering a bit. Those benefiting from them have been played down to weaken its positive effect on the people. Of course by politicians both from within and without government. And most especially by those with unfettered parochial interest to grab power.

Monies accruing to government’s chest for the creation of jobs may be limited. Because those of us shouting the loudest against the building of the Cathedral couldn’t be exonerated from the enticing tentacles of corruption when the opportunity stood before us. The people who have had employment are the same people who will allow themselves to be entrapped to bend the ethics of work. The corruptions that we all talk about are not committed by the unemployed and poor, but by the employed and so-called rich.

It’s true that a poor gullible people can always be used to commit crimes by those that have to give. We all know that suffering is so terrible and that no one would want to endure it. When a person stands in dire need of something, he or she would stoop to get it if he or she isn’t conscious of what he or she is. We have been whipped to believe that life is all about having material things.

We get respect and love only when we have money and things. And since the fundamental crave of a person is to be seen as important, irrespective of what they have in them, and since we have had importance to be measured by the number of material things we have, we are almost always tempted to minimize values and standards just to make money and procure some little respect and love. Or to be seen as important. Whatever that may mean.

We may even build plenty of Cathedrals and create more jobs. If we do not embark upon the vigorous pursuit of knowledge, especially scientific knowledge in all spheres of our academic pursuits, coupled with the patience to wait for its transformation of the coming generations, we shall ultimately become dry firewood helpful at stoking the technological industry of those that have pursued and are still pursuing knowledge as their major priority.

Cathedral, I would prefer to say that at the time of the pledge if the decision was based on the inspiration had, later practical exigencies could persuade to modify judgments. I have always preferred schools and libraries filled with philosophical and scientific books. But hey! Who cares about my preference?