THE BURDEN OF REASON written by Chinedu Chidi (Winner Debaters)

Published:29 Mar, 2011

“Passion has helped us;but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason,cold,calculating,unimpassioned reason,must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence”- Abraham Lincoln, Lyceum Address, January 27,1838.

It is commonplace in Nigeria for people drawn from all corners of society to engage in the lively verbal exercise of assigning dark labels to Public office holders. This disposition understandably enjoys popular acceptance and patronage because underdevelopment created and sustained by the deplorable streak of poor leadership has plagued the country for far too long. But how much commitment is put into constructive and intellectually balanced assessment?This is the focus of this piece. It is a fact of reality that many of us succumb to the gripping surge of passion fuelled by our accumulated distaste for the dysfunctional system,shutting our minds to the hard but rewarding path of intensive research and contemplative depth which make for accurate assessment. Our vocal commitment to our country(though sincere in many cases) could,against this backdrop,be aptly described as outbursts reeling with moral platitudes and popular universals,but lacking in
contextual specificity and analytical depth. At best,such a vocal tradition only accentuate the frustration of the people and sustain the awareness of general values without displaying factual grasp and providing the requisite valid alternatives that breed respect from the ruling class.

The grim reality about Nigeria’s development challenges(or any other for that matter)cannot be conquered by even moral discipline alone,let alone passionate lamentation!Our systemic rot cannot be reversed without an accompanying integrated strategic plan which though accommodates universal ideals,is centred on the distinctiveness of our clime. Nigeria’s shameful profile of multi-sectorial decrepitude with an indubitable historical constant of contemptible and vile realities remind us not only of failure in ethics but of the comprehensive deficit in leadership marked also by technical ineptitude. Nigeria is therefore in critical need of a citizenry in active service of country propelled by passion tempered by reason. This is the hallmark of true patriotism!
Today,blanket criticisms of social deficits fly from every corner but there is a dearth of balanced and technically deep analysis. Passionate criticisms lacking in logical depth and analyticity amount to mere whining and no sustainable national change can be founded on loose sentiments. Our people must vigorously engage in information gathering,reflect deeply about things so that only respectable and compelling voices of reason will be heard. It is a great disservice to our country and to truth, to resist the prompting of reason to probe deeper and amass knowledge before employing the influential and delicate tool of criticism. The standards of communicative justice and the value of evaluative commentary demand this!I hope that we will one day scream like Lincoln that”..Hail fall of Fury! Reign of Reason,all hail” -Temperance Adderess-February 22,1842.

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