Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Abuja, Nigeria

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people…. The abolition of religion as illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. ” – Karl Marx

as anyone ever cared to understand the circumstance that was prevalent – on the place, the people and the civilization – that stirred the author of the above quote to use it when he first did in his essays? I doubt if any of us ever had and, for this reason I crave your indulgence to tarry with me as I take you through yet another greatly misconstrued subject that’ll surely worth your while.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the people of Karl Marx’s time are pretty much like we are in Nigeria. This is because when you read his work and tried to assimilate the life behind the letters, you’ll at once understand that this man deplored the society of his days as a citadel for oppression that has driven people to the point of cleaving to religion just to escape the oppression and to find illusory happiness to go on living.

This brings us to ask: who is the society and who are the religious? Are these not made up of you and me? At the point of not realizing that you and I formed the basic unit of that oppressive society that Karl deplored and those religions which he practically mocked; portrayed most people as existing in what Karl termed the realm of opium.

For it is only at the point when opium had taken control of the human mind that confusion, falsehood, lies and the unwillingness to face reality existed. Who would believe that in Nigeria and despite the very obvious contention between the 2 major religions; corruption, uncleanliness, indiscipline still existed? With the level of our piety, Nigeria ought to be by far better than China.

Unfortunately, this is never the case. The delusion becomes very difficult to neutralize when you tried to make the average Nigerian to understand that nowhere in the world today has religion ever built a society let alone a national economy. The depth of this delusionary existence can only be effectively described in the words of Charly Boy Oputa when he said “that the average Nigerian is arrogantly ignorant!”

In the evolutionary history of human life, it is never in doubt that man begot the society and the religious systems. And because of this, his level of discipline, fairness, equity and justice determines how his society and his religious systems are shaped. For instance, whoever thought corruption was just going to bow to the EFCC’s eagle eyes was only myopic.

Corruption can only be swallowed by our contentment of whatever we possessed. As long as greed continues to drive the hearts of men; corruption, inequality and injustice will continue to thrive. This opium called religion has become so deceptive that God himself rejects it and instead seek true worshippers.

For when – for instance – you took the money that should benefit your next door neighbor and gave to the retailer outside the neighborhood because he sold his goods at a cheaper rate than your neighbor; you show that you didn’t come to the city to waste money but to gain money.

How do you think your neighbor will feel when you come with church fliers inviting her to church? Do you not think she would’ve remained in the village if she was in need of a church to worship? So, this mental delusion that has made us unable to interpret what Jesus had said correctly will surely destroy us! Jesus had said “Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.”

And since you wouldn’t share your worldly goods with your neighbor; how can you possibly share your heavenly goods with anyone for that matter? This is what Karl Marx meant when he used the above quote. Indeed, this opium is destroying us! Religious worship is false worship. It is a gathering of pretenders; people who briefly paused their greed for a few hours, and allow a comedian, an Ímam’ or a ‘pastor’ to entertain them.

After those hours, they played their true selves again. And you wonder why lawlessness and pervasive corruption are not stamped out of society. Just recently, Senator Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state was in the news for allegedly awarding a 3.6 billion contract to a company he had stakes in. Thankfully, he is a ‘Religious Muslim’.

But what if he were to be a genuine Muslim – a man of complete integrity as Jesus called Nathaniel (John 1: 47)? Will he do such a thing? Will he not allow due process to reign instead of greed? He most definitely would. So, as long as the opium (Religion) continues to control us; we most certainly will remain unable to act right.

The fact that lawlessness seemed to have swallowed ‘religion’ instead of the other way round is great proof that religion can never change society unless it first succeeded to change the heart of man. For we all know that opium never really kills or even alleviate the pain. It only just beclouds our minds by sending our thoughts to esoteric terrains where it keeps us for a brief moment and freed us afterwards.

This is why we come back to our painful realities feeling depressed. Do we still have religion in Nigeria and insecurity is rife; hitting us this hard? But religion promised us el-dorado, promised us wealth and security? What has gone wrong with religion’s promises? Nothing really went wrong.

Only that religion fooled us (or we fooled ourselves with religion), took our minds captive, striped us of the virtues of honest work and saving our earning and, striped us of our resources; making us more confused than we ever were. What held the promise of el-dorado for us is the life of integrity!

Unfortunately, no one is comfortable with this kind of life. We all love to deceive and be deceived. The abolition of this deceptive mindset is the demand for real happiness, real satisfaction, real comfort, real neighborliness and most of all real communal fellowship. We stood no chance of getting Nigeria to work again if we continued with this opium!