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  • Sanyade Okoli

The Body, Soul and Spirit of a Nation


Let’s face it, sometimes life just feels a disappointment. Plain and simple! For a lot of people around the world right now, so does their nation; a disappointment.


As you were growing up, you had such high hopes and expectations and then somehow, in adulthood, fewer of them than anticipated have been met. This feeling of disappointment just seeps through the cracks of your heart, corroding every ounce of joy it meets.


What makes it worse is the sense of helplessness felt. Having tried and tried and, all too often, met with what very much feels like failure. To add insult to injury, you don’t know why things are not working out and what to do about it. Hmmm.....


From both my personal experience and the knowledge I have gained over time, I now understand that there are three main root causes.


Human beings are made up of three parts - body, soul and spirit. So are nations.


Consequently, whether we are conscious of it not, we all operate on three realms - the physical or natural realm, the soul realm and the spirit realm. As a result, challenges that we experience in life could be as a result of issues in any one or a multiple of these realms. I will take each one in turn.


Let me start with the physical realm as that is what is most real to us. This realm relates to the material things we see and can touch, and also nature. It can be both tangible and intangible.


Our lives can be affected in the physical realm on many levels - personal, family, community, corporate, national, global, amongst others.


For example, on a personal level, a health challenge will clearly affect your life. Again, that can be on many levels; be it the pain and/or discomfort of the illness, the time and money required to address the issue, lost income due to the inability to work, limited accessibility to facilities, etc.


From a work standpoint, what is going on in the organisation in which you work can have manifold implications for your life.


The country you live in determines your access to basic services such as healthcare, education and infrastructure. Of course, this in turn affects your quality of life. Enough said!


This year, more than ever, no one needs to tell you about the impact global happenings has on your life. I remember hearing about the coronavirus in China on the news at the end of January. What I had no idea about at that time was the far-reaching implications of that “piece of news” on my life and the life of billions of other people around the world.


Though seemingly obvious, I have gone through all this for a reason which will become clearer later.


Then, we come to the soul realm. Our souls are made up of our mind, will and emotions. For so many of us Africans, I can only refer to this as the “Missing Middle”. For some reason, this is one area we have not given much attention. Until fairly recently, we have generally either ignored the concept of mental health or buried our heads in the sand. Emotional health had been belittled; holding on to the mindset that “emotions are for the weak”. What untold far-reaching and long-lasting damage these viewpoints have caused. Perhaps I will cover this topic in another blog post at some point.


Our thoughts (mind) and emotions influence our will. Our will, in turn, dictates our actions. So, if you think about it, most (I will explain why not all shortly) of our actions in the physical realm stem from the soul realm. How could we, then, ignore this oh so important area of our lives?!


Last, but by no means least, is the spiritual realm. This is an area with which a lot of Africans are very familiar; sadly, sometimes over-familiar.


Our spirit is the deepest part of our being that was created to communicate with God and the spirit world in general.


It is important to note that everything we see in the seen realm is first birthed in the unseen i.e. the spirit and/or the soul. Again, as with so many things in life, just because you are not conscious of it doesn’t mean it is not the case.


So, when one is experiencing challenges, it is important to ascertain the realm from which the problem stems so that you know how best to address the issue. Please bear in mind that often enough, it is not just from one realm but you need to ensure that you are attacking the problem in the right places.


A lot of Africans make one of two mistakes - either they place undue emphasis on the spiritual realm or they completely ignore or discount it (often because they have been so put off by those in the first camp). Neither approach is wise.


To spend all your time praying for wealth and not working is nothing other than foolishness. To blame the marital problems of a couple on “village people” when one or both of them are simply emotionally broken people is, at best, unhelpful.


Equally, some of the challenges we face come squarely from the spiritual realm. One of the fundamental life principles I learnt some years ago is from the Biblical verse, Galatians 6:7: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Just as we can inherit from our parents and grandparents in the physical realm, so we inherit from them in the spiritual realm. I know some people may think that this concept is either “Old Testament” or “village thinking” but here’s how I want you to look at it; when someone participates in evil practices (e.g. plain old meanness or wicked behaviour) or the occult (e.g. idolatry, secret societies, etc.) they open a spiritual door, not just in their lives but in the lives of several generations - born or unborn. So, these doors will need to be identified and shut.


With this understanding in mind I want us to look at how this pertains to a nation.


For the body, I want you to think of a country’s landmass, geography, infrastructure, systems, etc.


A nation’s soul is its cultures, traditions, mindsets, etc. If you recall that the soul is the seat of our will and therefore our actions, then you know that the state of a country’s soul very much determines its physical condition. Some aspects of a country’s physical state are simply from nature and some are man-made, for good or for bad. Either way, a nation with a healthy soul will bring out the very best from what God has given to it.


The spirit realm? Well, it’s the spirit realm! What is the spiritual atmosphere of the country? What is its spiritual antecedence? What spiritual seeds have been sown, the fruits of which are not being eaten? What spiritual doors have been open that have resulted in what we see around us today? Pacts made in secret and in open that are now manifesting themselves in ways that may, at first sight, seem unconnected.


Just because I do not see something does not mean it is not real and/or it does not affect me. Equally, just because I do not believe something does not render it untrue.

If all is not well with the physical state of a country we must pause and ask ourselves, “What is going on in the soul and the spiritual realms?” As the saying goes, “There is more to it than meets the eye.”


From where I sit, the #Endsars movement is merely the beginning of what is likely to be a wrestle for the body, soul and spirit of Nigeria. And so I ask, “Whose Nigeria is it anyway?”

Should you wish to explore this concept further with reference to a nation, below are some suggested reflections. I have posed the questions with African nations particularly in mind. I have focused less on the physical realm because, well, we’re all tired of discussing those challenges.

Reflections

Physical

  • What does the physical state of my nation tell me about the state of its soul and spirit?

Soul

  • What impact have historical events such as colonialism, civil war, military rule, etc. had on the soul of the nation?

  • What limiting prevailing mindsets have I observed in my country?

  • To what extent do our traditions and cultures support or impede development?

  • What traditions and cultures have had the most negative impact on the country’s progress?

  • To what extent have I bought into and/or perpetuated these negative mindsets, traditions and culture?

  • What changes do I need to make in my personal life and my sphere of influence in order to shift the national narrative in my own small (or big) way?

  • What do I think we need to do as a nation to begin to bring healing to its wounded soul?

Spirit

  • What’s my sense of the spiritual climate of my nation?

  • What traditional and cultural practices do I think may have opened spiritual doors to the nation?

  • What impact may my personal spiritual practices have over the spiritual atmosphere of the country

  • What spiritual doors have historical events opened?

  • What changes do I need to make in my personal life and my sphere of influence in order to shift the spiritual climate over my nation?

  • What do I think we need to do as a country to alter the spiritual atmosphere?


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