OPINION: Ukrainians, Sri Lankans, Iranian women: Heaven helps only those who help themselves 

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OPINION: Ukrainians, Sri Lankans, Iranian women: Heaven helps only those who help themselves

Femi OGUNLANA

In William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” at the height of Julius Caesar’s assumed power drunkenness and domination of Rome, two conspirators discussed the matter and one (Brutus) quietly pointed out, “The problem is not in our stars but in us that we are weaklings.”

2022 has seen the Ukrainians, Sri Lankans and Iranians (led by their women) rising in accordance with the implied meaning of the Brutus’ assertion and are proving that with determination, bravery and vision, a robust future can be charted and a right to good living, freedom from repression, suppression and oppression achieved. All that is needed is willpower and determination to create such Eldorado. The people mentioned have once again proven that only those who help themselves experience heaven cascading down in power to bolster up. It is never the other way round unless there is a special grace or reason for God to do so.

On February 24, 2022, Russian tanks rolled across their borders into Ukraine to decimate that country in what the Russian President, Vladimir Putin called “a special military operation,” and exuded confidence that the beleaguered country would be routed in few days. But the Ukrainians braced up and rallied to meet the unequalled challenge under a brave president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Buoyed by anger instead of being devastated by fear faced the invaders on the scattered battle fields. The ragtag army of Ukraine and the populace in general set out to thwart the agenda of one of the militarily strongest countries in the world and eight months on, they are still standing proudly. Not only preserving their sovereignty and territorial integrity they have lately been able to turn the tide of war in their favour, that in less than eight weeks they have recovered more swathes of land than Russia took since February. It is obvious the Ukrainians have dealt a devastating blow not only to the pride of Russia but to their “mighty” army as evident in the hurried forced conscription of able bodied Russians. 220, 000 have been recruited so far out of 300, 000 ordered to be recruited by their president, ironically many of them are now returning to Russia in body bags. The war faltering against the Superpower Russia is also indicated by the barrage of air raids against soft targets, infrastructures and civilians in Ukraine against the rules of engagement. Ukraine’s counteroffensive since about seven weeks ago has continued to roll back the Russian troops even in territories purportedly annexed by the aggressors. To save face the Russian authorities have resorted to threatening the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

One may say the Ukrainians are receiving help in terms of aids and weapons from Western allies led by the US, which run into billions of dollars, but if the Ukrainians had shown weakness and had given up like weaklings at the beginning of hostility the helpers wouldn’t have had the ball to come to their aid. Or even with the shipments of munitions, they would have been brought to their knees if they weren’t ready to make the necessary sacrifice in spite of deaths swirling over their heads. That is a perfect example of the cliché heaven helps those who help themselves.

Sri Lankans

Sri Lanka about three months ago was likewise caught in the web of people’s anger. There was widespread suffering – no fuel, no gas, just as food prices skyrocketed and living became unbearable for the Sri Lankans. The people resorted to the next practical thing – they vented their anger on their leaders, mutinied and drove out their country’s President and Prime Minister during sustained street protests, they occupied the Presidential Lodge, demystifying power. The President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced retirement hurriedly, he couldn’t withstand the fury of his people. They didn’t take the route of “only God can deliver us.” Heaven saw their efforts and descended in power to help them!

Protesting Iranian women

The Iranian protests are still ongoing, over a month now, and rather than abating are assuming wider scale. The spark for the protests was the death in custody of a twenty two year old Iranian girl Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the dreaded Morality Police for a loose hijab on her head. Her parents insisted she died from beating by the police but the police countered that she died from heart attack. The row degenerated into the protests now scorching almost all the provinces of Iran. And interestingly, it’s led by girls, women, the old and the young who are angrily cutting off their hair, and yanking off their hijabs and headscarves. The use of hijab is compulsory in the Arab country. As at the last count, over 400 people are said to have been killed and some 20, 000 persons arrested. Yet, the people are undeterred. In fact, they are now calling for regime change, chanting “Death to the Dictator,” in apparent reference to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The women are further demanding a relaxation of the social restriction order placed on women in that country. Their efforts have elicited reactions from across the world with the American President, Joe Biden reportedly expressing surprise at the resolve of the people of Iran thus sanctions are being considered against the country’s leaders.

The Yoruba people have a proverb that says “Omo to sipa ni iya e ngbe” (The mother is provoked to carry a child whose arms are lifted). People that want real change will not shrink from taking bold action that will liberate them; they will not cringe under the fear of death or cowardice, and will not hide beneath “fake” belief in God for their deliverance from oppression, repression and suppression. They will not be mere noisemakers or rabble rousers, who are adept at crying over their predicament but lacking the willpower to engender positive change in whatever way. Only the people who can look harbingers of hard life in the face get ushered into the path of liberation; they are the ones that heaven quickly help. Looking the oppressors in the face yes will engender death but aren’t people dying anyway? People that cannot make a stand against bad governance are not supposed to receive heaven’s help or may take long to be smiled upon by the heaven. Good things come through sacrifice.

The developed countries achieved their status through pain and agony, not through merely praying or wishful thinking. The Bible even says, “Prayer without work is dead.” Countries, whose citizens rest solely on a principle contrary to that, suffer for long. It is just sidestepping the solution, the needed turnaround will not come. In such a circumstance salvation may take longer to arrive. In their countries, some even demand a separate nation and hold the belief this will come on a platter, but which country will, no matter how highly placed it is in military index, bump on the leader of a sovereign country and say some of your people want out of your country and so allow them to go! And pronto this will unfurl! It doesn’t work that way, it is avoiding the fundamentals. Good things come at the price of blood as shown by the example of Jesus Christ whose blood was shed for the remission of sins. People should stop deceiving themselves that a price will not be paid before their country attains the Eldorado.

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