Against Manchester United

OA Fakinlede

I am alarmed at the fact that young Nigerian youth submits themselves to the colonialism of their minds willy-nilly. Three hundred years ago, the Europeans came here and tricked our warring forbears into selling their brothers in exchange of worthless gin and looking glasses. The White (looks more like pink to me) Man needed slaves. At that time, he, at least hired a boat, fuelled it and took it to anchor before going ashore coaxing, coercing and convincing your great…great grandparents to sell mine (or was it the other way around?) to the bounty hunters. The rest of that chapter is well recorded in our history books.

Today, the slavers don’t need to come here. You will purchase your own tickets and beg him for visa in order to get the opportunity to go serve in the margins of that society. Carry “poops” for the old and invalid, keep the gates, drive the taxis and mow the lawn. These and several other jobs they are unwilling to do (let’s not mention sex slavery) your sister, my brother and our uncle are already doing. More are trying to get in and add to the pool. Those that are no longer needed are shipped back home or locked up in concentration camps till there is enough to fill a cargo load.

Now what have these to do with Manchester United? Plenty. In the ongoing European football feast, Croatians especially have abused dark skinned players by throwing monkey’s bananas to them on the playing fields. You are going to get more of that. In the meantime, I hear Nigerians argue about their teams. When they do, if you did not listen carefully, you might think they are talking about Enyimba or Sunshine Stars. No, the teams they have in mind are Chelsea, Barcelona or Real Madrid! You may be tempted to laugh, but they are serious! “My team will beat yours” by two Nigerian youths are not referring to Kano Pillars or El-Kanemi Warriors! And, believe me, they are dead serious.

As a teacher, I called the attention of a 20-year-old colonized mind. Question. What is the population of Nigeria? Answer. 150 million. UK? 60 million. Of the two where do you think we have more soccer fans? Nigeria. Of the two, where does football mostly contribute to the economy? UK. Why do you think this is so? I don’t know! And you will soon graduate from the university? Yes. Tell me the name of your club. Manchester United!

I attended St Joseph’s College Ondo between 1966 and 1971. In those years my school had three football fields. We had our weekly portions and I never remembered a time when the fields were not properly trimmed, lush and green. We played football for fun and there was great competition among schools in the Western Region those days. I do not think the emotion that the world cup generated today are deeper than what we felt when we played against Boy’s High School! I did not remember there was any school in those days that did not have school fields. Primary school, secondary school or Modern School. The story was always the same. We also had facilities for other sporting activities.

I saw a secondary school last year at Lekki phase One. I was told that the fees can be as high as half a million a year. I then asked for the sports field. None! And the pupils here are the privileged of today! The poet, Oliver Goldsmith wrote: “Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,. Where wealth accumulates, and men decay” If a situation such as that can be lamented, what about ours? Is wealth accumulating here? I think not! Rather, wealth is actually decreasing but getting more concentrated in a few hands. Characters such as our newest “Sting Operator” who have very little to show than having been related to someone who controlled state power. Apart from that most people are actually getting poorer. The school attended by the son of two petty traders over forty years ago at very little cost beats that attended by the “middle class” of today in every material particulars! Ill fares the land!

Manchester United is worth around 2 billion dollars. That is bigger than the budget of most “State Governments” in our country! Where is this money coming from? Look how crowded the stadia over there are! Look at the television market and the advertisers that will get revenue from all over the world because your son and mine are watching and are into fanatical followership! These they do with not the least inkling of the correlation between their choices and the chances they will get a job when they leave school. It is probable, if the Math is done right, that the Football Industry in England is bigger than Nigeria’s Oil Industry! That is a sport that has more fans in Nigeria than England! Channels television, God bless them, just concluded a competition for Nigerian Primary school children. I can bet that these children would beat children from the UK or anywhere else for that matter. How is it that we can have such good products at the early stages and are unable to grow them into world beaters? Where are our secondary school football fields? Where are the Principal’s Cup, Greyer Cup, Ionian Cup? etc. Where is the development of the mind to connect sports to the economy? Where are the sports equipment manufacturers?

There are millions of football fans in Nigeria. The neglect of this market and the surrendering of our youth to foreign clubs is an act of negligence the thieving “rulers” don’t seem to want to address. No condition is permanent. China is now able to pay for the highest sports figure in the world at a time when Greece, Spain and Italy may be heading for bankruptcy. We need to start from somewhere. That will also require our educating our children properly and exorcizing the ManU mindset. I have absolutely nothing against this particular club. The colonization of the mind of our youth is unacceptable. We must change!

The People Have Spoken

OA Fakinlede

And we are greatly humbled by what they have entrusted us with. Come August 1, 2012, the change in the saddle of deanship of engineering at Unilag begins a challenge to live up to the promises of this campaign. It is not going to be a picnic in the park but we shall try. We are sufficiently realistic especially considering the numerous challenges that face every effort at doing things right here in Nigeria. A campaign run on Integrity must also beware of the “banana peels” that caught a vaunted “Mr Integrity” – among Baba’s famous “400 Thieves”. We can even dare to fail. Whatever happens, it shall NOT be said of us that we did not try!

Let me begin by complimenting Professor Afolabi Kehinde. As a distinguished fellow member of the Maple-Leaf club and my senior in several ways, I want to thank you for running a dignified race. On several occasions, at the campaign trail, we met and instead of trading insults, we spent time to joke and exchange pleasantries. I am grateful for the sportsmanlike way you took the outcome of the elections. I will make a serious effort to show you that we are in this together and that the respect I have for you has even grown the more.

Professors Sadiq and Falade from Civil and Environmental Engineering are also to be praised. On Saturday, Sadiq and I travelled to Erin-Ijesha to pay our last office of friendship to our late mentor, professor CO Orangun. We argued and talked all the way about how we can make things better. We assured ourselves of cooperation for whoever won the election. Professor Falade always made sure he had a word of brotherliness to say to me every time we met on the trail. Even on the very last day, he was not found wanting. My brothers, I want to thank you for making the race, difficult as it may have been, a worthwhile thing and an example to all that competition can be in a civilized manner and that people can disagree without being disagreeable. Professor Frank Okafor, a distinguished fellow Akokite, has been my neighbor for a while. In the course of time we are even getting to know family members and other mutual friends. Our faculty will continue to need the immense contacts you have developed over the years with industry and government. I will work hard to ensure that our comradeship grows and that we shall be an example to others in the way we ensure that the larger interests of our people looms larger in all our considerations than immediate personal goals. Thanks for bringing out the best features in our election. Your participation made it more competitive and I believe our people will be better off as a result of the way we have conducted ourselves.

I congratulate the foursome for their brave act of not only respecting the people’s will but in cheerfully congratulating and wishing me well in the onerous task of rekindling the hopes of our people.

I have never seriously sought elected positions before this. I am ordinarily very insistent on whatever I think is right. An elected office is a position of collective responsibility. There are compromises to be made. Compromise! A very bad word? Not necessarily! Our people say, “Ona kan ko w’oja”. O poor poor English! There is no way to translate that without losing something. It roughly means that there are usually several ways to reach the market – Never only one way. In that sense, we shall compromise on issues of tactics while our strategies and principles of operation remain well-defined and unyielding. And we shall endeavor to learn to disagree with you without being disagreeable. We shall try to open things up especially when they are difficult and allow the “two heads better than one” rule to guide us.

To the electorate. I salute you. I salute the women; I salute the men. The women must come first because they are our mothers. They work harder than us because they are in a man’s world and are making success. To achieve this, they raise families and often do school runs. They work up to twice as hard, have fewer choices and still excel. I salute you. Some of you are great encouragers and your families are greatly blessed to have you. We will work to understand your special needs and ensure they are looked after as much as it lies with us. To my men comrades, I say it like old Buka Suka Dimka did in 1975, “We are all together!” I also salute those who worked hard for the campaign of my competitors for this honor. You worked doggedly and you were faithful to your principals till the end. Kudos! I will work hard to earn your trust and make sure your rights are protected. I want to congratulate those members who worked for me and encouraged me. Ola yin ni o! I will work hard to not disappoint you and make you look foolish. We can only have one dean at a time. Other people will have their turn as God gives us life. To my predecessor, Professor Ajibade Salau, the people’s dean, I say congratulations on your run. You have set for us a standard we will try to match, and, with God’s help, we shall endeavor to exceed. You have put your imprint on our faculty and it is our prayer that your continued work in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department as well as other future opportunities will be met with the same kind of success. You are a great mobilizer and go-getter. While you were dean, you not only listened to ideas shared with you, you supported them vigorously to fruition.

From now till the end of July, we shall be planning to engineer the issues that have been lingering in the minds as dreams. The web pages we have used for the campaign will become a veritable tool for bi-directional communication amongst us. Let us share freely what we think should be done. Let us not be shy about it. We all have a stake in the future of this place where we spend most of our productive years.

I am humbled by your choice of me. I take the challenge seriously. It is a blessing, it is a honour. In my mind, the words of the old hymn resonate:
“When with blessings sated,
Or by praise elated,
Blessed Jesu, hear us!
Let Thy cross be near us! Amen!”

Voting Wisely

OA Fakinlede

When tomorrow fully comes, it will be time to vote. Once you do that, you must await the consequences of your action. Take this voting seriously because it is important. Vote wisely, Vote oafak.

The Dean is, among other things a representative of the Faculty. Who will you trust to champion the cause of this faculty? Who can put our case persuasively in a senate debate or a Budget hearing? Throughout my four-year tenure as the Head of Systems Engineering, I obtained more funding at Budget defense for the simple fact that the demands made did not emphasize the usual perquisites that HODs wanted but facilities to enhance our work. I was constantly entrusted with more funds. These funds were distributed justly and fairly so that lecturers at all level were treated with equity. That is why your colleague in Systems Engineering probably got a notebook before you did! Vote wisely, vote oafak!

I have been a Director in Federal Parastatals for 8 solid years. That was before a four year stint as an HOD. Please note, these were substantive appointments – not in acting capacity! It is easy to see why I can be decisive in taking actions that will move us forward. When it comes to leading the faculty, who will not require on-the-job training? Vote wisely, vote oafak!

The most critical issue facing young lecturers is that they get the training and the environment to be internationally competitive. You need the confidence to excel. You need to be able to deliver confidently. You need the skills to grow to be the professor who can stand his ground. Who will you trust improve our environment so we can deliver? I have been trained in Unilag and at Alberta in Canada. My stint in Canada was as a post-graduate student and later as a Post-doctoral Fellow and researcher. When I talk about how things are properly done in other places, I know what I am saying because I have been involved, and it shows! We need to increase our establishment positions and bring in more qualified people to drive our vision to be more competitive internationally! Vote wisely, vote oafak.

The deanship is not a gift to be bestowed by sympathy! It is an opportunity to serve to be given to who can make it work for the greatest benefit of the faculty. When there was the MAU controversy, who stood up to be counted? Remember, when things are tough, you need someone you can trust to give a sense of direction. You need someone to make a sound case for the faculty and be fair to all. You need someone to give academic leadership. The passion for this place is in one person – more than others. No more grey hairs before you get your doctorate if you do it right and Vote wisely, Vote oafak!

Geomatics Engineering

It is heartwarming that Geomatics Engineering has won a latter-day convert in the run-up to the election on Thursday. It is a win-win situation for those who deeply believe in this issue and will actually want it to get implemented. The addition, today of this convert means we have 40% of the present corps of aspirants support the idea. Its chances are therefore twice as high as previously when I was a lonely bearer of that idea. The Congratulations should go round. Please also pay attention to as the voting day gets nearer.

Baba and the Four Hundred Thieves

OA Fakinlede

We are not talking about Ali here. And once the Ali is gone from the name, the thieves multiply ten fold! If you are only a stranger in these parts, you may be forgiven for not immediately realizing that there is only one Baba. And, tell me, where else would he live if not Ota? Baba’s thieves are not highwaymen; unlike Ali Baba’s their treasure store is the national patrimony.  These ones are, civilized, no vagabonds in the forest, but all live in sumptuous opulence in a certain well-decorated city, Central Nigeria. Bullet proof cars, robotic massaging machines, etc. These are regular paraphernalia! Here  men and women upon whom have been thrust the duty to make laws for 160 million people prefer to play the “Wetin’ You Carry?” game instead. For them, probes, probes and more probes, like aphrodisiacs allure irresistibly and must be carried out as if no other duty exists under the sun. Democracy has been successfully turned into a feast of scandals. When it is not the Power Sector, it is the Capital Market. Now starring: the Subsidy Probe. Then we probe the probe on the subsidy. If  juicier scandal emerges, we will  iterate again and probe the probe on the probe … ad infinitum. The only other important businesses that come close to this one are the “Oversight Functions” and Budget defense. For these, if no big probe emerges, there can be a need to travel to Ghana or some other safe haven to think about more probes! Wait a minute, even this one can bring up yet another scandal that will lead to more probes!

Nigeria! Hapless Nigerians!! Chained and packed like sardines for slavery (padlocks in the mouth) in the Americas; Looted silly to stupefaction by the British; Lured to Nationalism by Dreamers; Raped into unconsciousness by its very own paid armed Soldiers; Constantly molested now by well-rewarded swindlers in the name of the best remunerated “Honorables” in world history. In a week when worshipping souls were sent into their untimely graves by the Boko Haram scourge, When tanker trucks roasted human beings like bush meat on perhaps the most slumish expressway in the world, When 150 air travellers paid a fiery unscheduled visit to people hoping to use “better-pass-my-neighbor” to watch a football match with disastrous results on all sides, Our “Honorables” were busy probing until they probed themselves, as expected, into yet another scandal. The rest of the story is still unfolding. No need to mourn the dead, clear the roads and make the air safer. Just turn on your TV and enjoy the Soap! Or, tell me, what else are you enjoying?

Somewhere in all of this, there is the Baba that is also known as “Dey Kampe” firing in the now familiar pontifical pose. Swearing, cursing and prophesying all at once. And here, as usual, there are the “Baba knows all” praise singers who have not stopped despite the fact that Baba has few carrots left to throw at them these days! Talk about faithful old soldiers. And then you have those calling on Baba, the Kettle, to stop calling the Pot black. Baba! O Baba!! Friend or Foe? Saint or Devil? Hero or Villain. Baba, depending on whom you ask, is all of the above and more. He has been around for long enough, has wielded the bayonet, the gun and the staff for so long and has made many friends and enemies. Whichever name you call, Baba will answer!

To those who think Baba was good for nothing, the truth is that he tried his best to move Nigeria. Recall that he was a only rank soldier, catapulted to unexpected heights and lacked the depth commensurable to the power wielded. Void of the temperament to attract self-respecting giants that would have ameliorated well-documented deficiencies, he contented himself with a train Baba-mouthing upstarts that could only dazzle him with spreadsheet graphics he did not fully comprehend. With all his faults, Baba tried to give this nation a working Health Insurance System, A contributory Pension system and fought the “Honorables” hard and long to remove their hands from the till and monetized civil servant emoluments so that Nigeria can plan for the modern world. He even tried to undo his foolish “Indigenization” fiasco that robbed the nation of foreign investment. If efforts were all of it, Baba should be a huge success. Unfortunately, huge success, Baba is NOT! He is forced to watch from the sidelines the Nigeria he tried to redeem (as the messiah that Abiola was not) mired deeper and deeper into the very same self-inflicted immolations he tried so hard to avoid!

Naturally, Baba is angry. His ire is directed at the “Armed Robbers”! To Baba, these “Honorable Armed Robbers” are the cause of Nigeria’s woes and a curse to the nation. What will Baba do? “I dey laugh”, “I dey look” are fast replacing “I dey Kampe”. What a pity. It is not usually a good view looking at a man who once wielded power complaining of helplessness! He ends up much worse off that the rest of us who have always been in the latter state!

Are the “Honorables” Nigeria’s main problems? Of course, there is no equivocating the fact they a major drain on the nation’s money, health and wellbeing. As long as they are constantly lusting for more of the nation’s patrimony with insatiable greed, there will be no money for roads; None to make electricity; We will be buying 30 year-old planes and 80-year-old locomotives! Even if you buy a new car, you will drive it on bad roads and salute robbers and the real “wetin you carry”. They emerge from their parties by excessive amounts changing hands; They “capture” power via money; They can never have enough in order to remain in their line of business. There is no time to settle down and use the minds to properly legislate to grow the economy to create wealth through hardwork for Nigeria. Their mindset, comportment and carriage are on the other side of the street to work. They have inflicted on Nigeria this mighty disconnect between work and gain. “Ise kekere, owo nlanla, ka mi a gbadun kelele”! That is the fundamental norm and principle of their existence! It is a well-known fact that unearned income benumbs and stupefies the soul. Our “Honorables” are benumbed and stupefied. Their insatiable appetite for more of it; For conspicuous consumption and for misplaced priorities are all terrible yokes the nation must bear! The end is not near!

In spite of all this, sorry Baba, the “Honorables” are NOT Nigeria’s main problem. They are as bad as they are because of the fundamental weakness in the system we are running. We can abuse our representatives all we like; They are our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers. They did not come from Chile, Yemen or Mongolia! (I wish they did so we can have a deportation order! Problem solved!) They are Nigerians. And that is the problem. They are people who if you were to replace wholesale under this same system by other Nigerians, will still behave the same way. We MUST come to terms with this fact if we want to get to the root of our problem.

Baba, I am sorry to say, you have actually been a bigger part of the problem. You also had two great opportunities to help Nigeria to solve the problems but you listened to the wrong drummer! We looked to you in vain: Each time you blew it.

The suffocating unitary arrangement of pretended federalism, that refuses every attempt at redemption, no matter how feeble or non-threatening, is our major problem, our cancer. This cancer that is eating up Nigeria shows its face in five major ways: The Sharing Mentality, Unviable States, Militarized Constitution, Effete Policing and the Culture of Impunity. It is these that build up the infrastructure upon which corruption thrives. Our infantile attempts to fight corruption without demolishing its infrastructure have failed as many times as we have tried. If it is true that a mad man uses the same method and expects different results, what can we be called even after all the considerations of charity? With the corruption infrastructure in place, the Nigerian population performs at less than ten percent of its capacity! The Jews and Arabs have been fighting for centuries for a stretch of sandy desert that is hardly larger than Oyo State. To get and to keep small pieces of this land, they have tanks, bombers, battle ships and nuclear weapons. Nigerians sit down and look at some of the most fertile pieces of real estate on earth and go hungry! Able-bodied men are selling Chinese trivia on the roads when coal lies buried under them and they sleep in darkness with no electricity! They all love football but cannot grow a national brand so they are all doing Manchester United or Chelsea. They send children to Togo, Benin and Ghana because school discipline here has collapsed. They build churches on the expressway to pray God to give them Jeeps to drive on gulley laden roads. And God answers by sending them accidented scraps from those who pray not which they lay hands upon in church with teary eyes of gratitude. And yet, despite the joke upon us, no one is laughing! We forget the simple no brainer that those who want cars need to build assembly plants! Think, Nigeria, Think! They live contemptuously of one another as if mutual abuse can solve any problem!

The list of foolishnesses we indulge in can fill several books. The root is one: A suffocating unitary arrangement. With this in place this, nothing can grow. What grew MUST die. Retain the infrastructure, Corruption remains with us.

Baba had the opportunity to dismantle this infrastructure. He did not. Several deep thinkers in the land tried to help, Baba prevented them! It is too late to cry. Uncle Tai, Pa Enahoro, Pa Ajasin, Pa Adesanya, and many others have gone to the great beyond with these tears in their eyes! Others are at the brink. Even Baba himself will not likely see an improvement in our lot because this suffocation is hegemony and creates trillions of unearned income and subsidy for a powerful few. They have a new name. I refuse to call it; Detestable, detestable, detestable!

Sorry, Baba. I know how you feel about the “Armed Robbers”. They are not going away soon. You had your chance.

Vote Wisely

Vote Wisely

On June 21, 2012, Don’t waste your vote. Vote wisely. A vote for oafak is a vote for Innovation, for hope and for the brighter future of these bright students who choose Unilag. A vote for oafak is a vote for the passion to lead. A vote for oafak is an acknowledgement that competence matters; A vote for oafak is a vote for experience. Don’t waste your vote. Vote wisely.

The Most Famous

Dorothy L. Sayers, October, 1941 

PERHAPS the bitterest commentary on the way in which Christian doctrine has been taught in the last few centuries is the fact that to the majority of people the word “immorality” has come to mean one thing and one thing only. The name of an association like yours is generally held to imply that you are concerned to correct only one sin out of those seven which the Church recognizes as capital. By a hideous irony, our shrinking reprobation of that sin has made us too delicate so much as to name it, so that we have come to use for it the words which were made to cover the whole range of human corruption. A man may be greedy and selfish; spiteful, cruel, jealous, and unjust; violent and brutal; grasping, unscrupulous, and a liar; stubborn and arrogant; stupid, morose, and dead to every noble instinct- and still we are ready to say of him that he is not an immoral man. I am reminded of a young man who once said to me with perfect simplicity: “I did not know there were seven deadly sins: please tell me the names of the other six.”

About the sin called Luxuria or Lust, I shall therefore say only three things. First, that it is a sin, and that it ought to be called plainly by its own name, and neither huddled away under a generic term like immorality, nor confused with love.

Secondly, that up till now the Church, in hunting down this sin, has had the active alliance of Caesar, who has been concerned to maintain family solidarity and the orderly devolution of property in the interests of the State. But now that contract and not status is held to be the basis of society, Caesar need no longer rely on the family to maintain social solidarity; and now that so much property is held anonymously by trusts and joint-stock companies, the laws of inheritance lose a great deal of their importance. Consequently, Caesar is now much less interested than he was in the sleeping arrangements of his citizens, and has in this matter cynically denounced his alliance with the Church. This is a warning against putting one’s trust in any child of man-particularly in Caesar. If the Church is to continue her campaign against Lust, she must do so on her own-that is, on sacramental-grounds; and she will have to do it, if not in defiance of Caesar, at least without his assistance.

Thirdly, there are two main reasons for which people fall into the sin of Luxuria. It may be through sheer exuberance of animal spirits: in which case a sharp application of the curb may be all that is needed to bring the body into subjection and remind it of its proper place in the scheme of man’s twofold nature. Or and this commonly happens in periods of disillusionment like our own, when philosophies are bankrupt and life appears without hope-men and women may turn to lust in sheer boredom and discontent, trying to find in it some stimulus which is not pro- vided by the drab discomfort of their mental and physical surroundings. When that is the case, stern rebukes and restrictions are worse than useless. It is as though one were to endeavour to cure anaemia by bleeding; it only reduces further an already impoverished vitality. The mournful and medical aspect of twentieth-century pornography and promiscuity strongly suggests that we have reached one of these periods of spiritual depression, where people go to bed because they have nothing better to do. In other words, the “regrettable moral laxity” of which respectable people complain may have its root cause not in Luxuria at all, but in some other of the sins of society, and may automatically begin to cure itself when that root cause is removed.

The Church, then, officially recognizes six other capital or basic sins-seven altogether. Of these, three may be roughly called the warm-hearted or disreputable sins, and the remaining four the cold-hearted or respectable sins. It is interesting to notice that Christ rebuked the three disreputable sins only in mild or general terms, but uttered the most violent vituperations against the respectable ones. Caesar and the Pharisees, on the other hand, strongly dislike anything warm-hearted or disreputable, and set great store by the cold-hearted and respectable sins, which they are in a conspiracy to call virtues. And we may note that, as a result of this unholy alliance between worldly interest and religious opinion, the common man is rather inclined to canonize the warm-hearted sins for himself, and to thank God openly that he is broad-minded, given to a high standard of living, and instinct with righteous indignation- not prurient, strait-laced or namby-pamby, or even as this Pharisee. It is difficult to blame the common man very much for this natural reaction against the insistent identification of Christian morality with everything that Christ most fervently abhorred. 

The Other Six. 6. Wrath

Dorothy L Sayers, 1942

The sin of Ira or Wrath is one, perhaps, to which the English as a nation are not greatly addicted, except in a rather specialized form. On the whole we are slow to anger, and dislike violence. We can be brutal and destructive- usually, however, only under provocation; and much of our apparent brutality is due much less to violence of temper than to sheer unimaginative stupidity (a detestable sin in itself, but quite different in nature and origin). On the whole, we are an easy-going, good-humoured people, who hate with difficulty and find it almost impossible to cherish rancour or revenge.

This is true, I think, of the English. It is perhaps not quite true of those who profess and call themselves British. The Celt is quarrelsome; he prides himself that with him it is a word and a blow. He broods upon the memory of ancient wrongs in a way that to the Englishman is incomprehensible; if the English were Irish by temperament they would still be roused to fury by the name of the Battle of Hastings, instead of summing it up philosophically as “1066 and All That.” The Celt clings fiercely to his ancient tribal savageries, and his religious habits are disputatious, polemical, and (in extreme instances, as on the Irish border) disgraced by blood-thirst and a persecuting frenzy. But let the Englishman not be in too great a hurry to congratulate himself. He has one besetting weakness, by means of which he may very readily be led or lashed into the sin of Wrath: he is peculiarly liable to attacks of righteous indignation. While he is in one of these fits he will fling himself into a debauch of fury and commit extravagances which are not only evil but ridiculous.

We all know pretty well the man-or perhaps still more frequently the woman-who says that anybody who tortures a helpless animal should be flogged till he shrieks for mercy. The harsh, grating tone and the squinting, vicious countenance accompanying the declaration are enough to warn us that this righteous anger is devil-born, and trembling on the verge of mania. But we do not always recognize this ugly form of possession when it cloaks itself under a zeal for efficiency or a lofty resolution to expose scandals-particularly if it expresses itself only in print or in platform verbiage. It is very well known to the more unscrupulous part of the Press that nothing pays so well in the newspaper world as the manufacture of schism and the exploitation of wrath. Turn over the .pages of the more popular papers if you want to see how avarice thrives on hatred and the passion of violence. To foment grievance and to set men at variance is the trade by which agitators thrive and journalists make money. A dog-fight, a brawl, or a war is always news; if news of that kind is lacking, it pays well to contrive it. The average English mind is a fertile field in which to sow the dragon’s teeth of moral indignation; and the fight that follows will be blind, brutal, and merciless.

That is not to say that scandals should not be exposed, or that no anger is justified. But you may know the mischief- maker by the warped malignancy of his language as easily as by the warped malignancy of his face and voice. His fury is without restraint and without magnanimity-and it is aimed, not at checking the offence, but at starting a pogrom against the offender. He would rather the evil were not cured at all than that it were cured quietly and without violence. His evil lust of wrath cannot be sated unless some- body is hounded down, beaten, and trampled on, and a savage war-dance executed upon the body.

I have said that the English are readily tempted into this kind of debauch. I will add that it is a debauch, and, like other debauches, leaves him with a splitting head, a bad hang-over, and a crushing sense of shame. When he does give way to wrath, he makes a very degrading exhibition of himself, because wrath is a thing unnatural to him; it affects him like drink or drugs. In the shame-faced mood that follows, he becomes spiritless, sick at heart, and enfeebled in judgment. I am therefore the more concerned about a highly unpleasant spirit of vindictiveness that is being commended to us at this moment, camouflaged as righteous wrath and a warlike spirit. It is not a warlike spirit at all-at any rate, it is very unlike the spirit in which soldiers make war. The good soldier is on the whole remarkable both for severity in his measures, and for measure in his severity. He is as bloodthirsty as his duty requires him to be, and, as a rule, not more. Even in Germany, the difference between the professional and the political fighter is said to be very marked in this respect. There are, however, certain people here whose martial howls do not suggest the battle-cry even of a savage warrior so much as Miss Henrietta Petowker reciting The Blood-Drinker’s Burial in Mrs. Kenwigs’s front parlour. If I say: “Do not listen to them,” it is not because there is no room for indignation, but because there is a point at which righteous indignation passes over into the deadly sin of Wrath; and once it has passed that point, it is liable, like all other passions, to stagger over into its own opposite, the equally fatal sin of Sloth or Accidie, of which we shall have something to say presently. Ungovernable rage is the sin of the warm heart and the quick spirit; in such men it is usually very quickly repented of-though before that happens it may have wrought irreparable destruction. We shall have to see to it that the habit of wrath and destruction which war fastens upon us is not carried over into the peace. And above all we must see to it now that our blind rages are not harnessed and driven by those men of the cold head and the cold heart- the Envious, the Avaricious, and the Proud.

The Other Six: 5. Gluttony

Dorothy L. Sayers, 1942

The third warm-hearted sin is named Gula in Latin and in English, Gluttony. In its vulgarest and most obvious form we may feel that we are not much tempted to it. Certain other classes of people-not ourselves-do, of course, indulge in this disreputable kind of wallowing. Poor people of coarse and unrefined habits drink too much beer. Rich people, particularly in America and in those luxury hotels which we cannot afford, stuff themselves with food. Young people-especially girls younger than ourselves drink far too many cocktails and smoke like chimneys. And some very reprehensible people contrive, even in war-time, to make pigs of themselves in defiance of the rationing order- like the young woman who (according to a recent gossip column) contrived to eat five separate lunches in five separate restaurants in the course of a single morning. But on the whole, England in war-time is not a place where the majority of us can very easily destroy our souls with Gluttony. We may congratulate ourselves that, if we have not exactly renounced our sins, this particular sin at any rate has renounced us.

Let us seize this breathing-space, while we are out of reach of temptation, to look at one very remarkable aspect of the sin of Gula. We have all become aware lately of something very disquieting about what we call our economic system. An odd change has come over us since the arrival of the machine age. Whereas formerly it was considered a virtue to be thrifty and content with one’s lot, it is now considered to be the mark of a progressive nation that it is filled with hustling, go-getting citizens, intent on raising their standard of living. And this is not interpreted to mean merely that a decent sufficiency of food, clothes, and shelter is attainable by all citizens. It means much more and much less than this. It means that every citizen is encouraged to consider more, and more complicated, luxuries necessary to his well-being. The gluttonous consumption of manufactured goods had become, before the war, the prime civic virtue. And why? Because the machines can produce cheaply only if they produce in vast quantities; because unless the machines can produce cheaply nobody can afford to keep them running; and because, unless they are kept running, millions of citizens will be thrown out of employment, and the community will starve.

We need not stop now to go round and round the vicious circle of production and consumption. We need not remind ourselves of the furious barrage of advertisement by which people are flattered and frightened out of a reasonable contentment into a greedy hankering after goods which they do not really need; nor point out for the thousandth time how every evil passion-snobbery, laziness, vanity, concupiscence, ignorance, greed-is appealed to in these campaigns. Nor how unassuming communities (described as “backward countries”) have these desires ruthlessly forced upon them by their neighbours in the effort to find an outlet for goods whose market is saturated. And we must not take up too much time in pointing out how, as the necessity to sell goods in quantity becomes more desperate the people’s appreciation of quality is violently discouraged and suppressed. You must not buy goods that last too long, for production cannot be kept going unless the goods wear out, or fall out of fashion, and so can be thrown away and replaced with others. If a man invents anything that would give lasting satisfaction, his invention must be bought up by the manufacturer so that it may never see the light of day. Nor must the worker be encouraged to take too much interest in the thing he makes; if he did, he might desire to make it as well as it can be made, and that would not pay. It is better that he should work in a soulless indifference, even though such treatment should break his spirit, and cause him to hate his work. The difference between the factory hand and the craftsman is that the craftsman lives to do the work he loves; but the factory hand lives by doing the work he despises. The service of the machine will not have it otherwise. We know about all this, and must not discuss it now-but I will ask you to remember it.

The point I want to make now is this: that whether or not it is desirable to keep up this fearful whirligig of industrial finance based on gluttonous consumption, it could not be kept up for a single moment without the co-operative gluttony of the consumer. Legislation, the control of wages and profits, the balancing of exports and imports, elaborate schemes for the distribution of surplus commodities, the State ownership of enterprise, complicated systems of social credit, and finally wars and revolutions are all invoked in the hope of breaking down the thing known as the present Economic System. Now it may well be that its breakdown would be a terrific disaster and produce a worse chaos than that which went before-we need not argue about it. The point is that, without any legislation whatever, the whole system would come crashing down in a day if every consumer were voluntarily to restrict his purchases to the things he really needed. “The fact is,” said a working man the other day at a meeting, “that when we fall for these advertisements we’re being had for mugs.” So we are. The sin of Gluttony, of Greed, of overmuch stuffing of ourselves, is the sin that has delivered us over into the power of the machine.

In evil days between the wars we were confronted with some ugly contrasts between plenty and poverty. Those contrasts should be, and must be, reduced. But let us say frankly that they are not likely to be reduced, so long as the poor admire the rich for the indulgence in precisely that gluttonous way of living which rivets on the world the chain of the present economic system, and do their best to imitate rich men’s worst vices. To do that is to play into the hands of those whose interest it is to keep the system going. You will notice that, under a war economy, the contrast is being flattened out; we are being forced to reduce and regulate our personal consumption of commodities, and to revise our whole notion of what constitutes good citizenship in the financial sense. This is the judgment of this world: when we will not amend ourselves by Grace, we are compelled under the yoke of Law. You will notice also that we are learning certain things. There seems, for example, to be no noticeable diminution in our health and spirits due to the fact that we have only the choice of, say, half a dozen dishes in a restaurant instead of forty. In the matter of clothing, we are beginning to regain our respect for stuffs that will wear well; we can no longer be led away by the specious argument that it is smarter and more hygienic to wear underlinen and stockings once and then throw them away than to buy things that will serve us for years. We are having to learn, painfully, to save food and material and to salvage waste products; and in learning to do these things we have found a curious and stimulating sense of adventure. For it is the great curse of Gluttony that it ends by destroying all sense of the precious, the unique, the irreplaceable. But What will happen to us when the war-machine ceases to consume our surplus products for us? Shall we hold fast to our rediscovered sense of real values and our adventurous attitude of life? If so, we shall revolutionize world economy without any political revolution. Or shall we again allow our Gluttony to become the instrument of an economic system that is satisfactory to nobody? That system as we know it thrives upon waste and rubbish-heaps. At present the waste (that is, sheer gluttonous consumption) is being done for us in the field of war. In peace, if we do not re- vise our ideas, we shall ourselves become its instruments. The rubbish-heap will again be piled on our own doorsteps, on our own backs, in our own bellies. Instead of the wasteful consumption of trucks and tanks, metal and explosives, we shall have back the wasteful consumption of wireless sets and silk stockings, drugs and paper, cheap pottery and cosmetics-all the slop and swill that pour down the sewers over which the palace of Gluttony is built.

Gluttony is warm-hearted. It is the excess and perversion of that free, careless, and generous mood which desires to enjoy life and to see others enjoy it. But, like Lust and Wrath, it is a headless, heedless sin, that puts the good-natured person at the mercy of the cold head and the cold heart; and these exploit it and bring it to judgment, so that at length it issues in its own opposite-in that very “dearth in the midst of plenty” at which we stand horrified today.