YOU MUST BE MISTAKEN: Five Talking Points

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“A hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgement based upon it.”
Bertrand Russell

Whether things are done by convention or conviction, it is only human that we review, from time to time, our actions if they still hold appropriate. There are indeed many issues that cause controversy of opinions due to the various yardsticks we employ to measure our standards. The five talking points are only random, and are just a few of what I see as popularly mistaken notions. Each man is still entitled to his opinions, and so am I; so here we go.

Be Yourself
How often have heard this phrase? Countless times! But of how much good will this pay us? The one place you’d never want to be yourself is at the job interview — you smile even when vexed; answer all questions even if they’re senseless; be polite even to the most rude employers; etc.

In simple truth, our expressions and actions must match the surrounding environment. I wonder how many of us would be at a social dinner and eat up in three minutes just because that’s how we eat at home? Being yourself should be more of “be unique” or “be original”, but never yourself — you do not want expose your dirty linen in the open.

Boarding Schools Help Children Be More Independent
I do not know what people term as independence. But if they’re thinking what I’m thinking, what’s independent about your timetable made up by someone else? Rise: 05h00; Assembly: 07h00; Classes: 08h00-14h00; Siesta: 16h00; Sports: 17h00; Studying: 21h00. Is this really independence? Everything has been thought out for the student. Or is independence the fact that the student can live outside the care of the parents?

Besides, the false independence these schools hope to give, do they not deprive children of the quality time with family that they deserve, especially in the fragile age of adolescence? I’m not saying boarding schools are bad, but we take them for doing more than they actually do.

I Can’t Wait To Be Through With School
We often say (or said) this because we somehow believe that school is the hardest part of life. How true can this be? We don’t seem to appreciate the fact that while in school, the number of things to worry about are only a few. There is a curriculum to fall to.

There is no curriculum for how to get a job, get married, raise children, or to take care of family. There is no curriculum on how to spend your paycheck, on investment plans, or business opportunities. Thinking for yourself is the hardest part — every other thing is simple enough.

Parallel World
The most important thing about Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation is that a force exists between any two bodies in the universe. In the same vein, everything is connected to all others. In practical terms, there is always something right even in the most wrong statement. There is something sensible even in the most gibberish of syllables.

But wait a minute! What’s the logic behind writing this article on Christmas Eve. What’s the connection? Ehm, I’ll figure that out in the next paragraph.

Don’t Be Sentimental!
Finally, we talk about sentiments as if they were something entirely wrong. Sentiments do matter, and it’s the reason we would put family first — the theme of this Christmas season. Let our sentiments head in the direction of right reason so we can enjoy the gains of true bliss. Sentiments made this article necessary, but unlike the caption, I hope I’m not mistaken.

Luke O. Ogar

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THE NINTH PLAGUE: The Darkness (A Poem)

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If this be a huge sheet of black
Will not my eyes be in lack?
For the blackout seems not to go away
And the dead of night wants to stay
If there be light to see
Dispel this blackness so unworthy

The scene of the dusk is set in beauty
Yet we rewrite the script with plots so ugly
The charm of the red sunsets thrill the horizon
It is transformed into hate, malice, and rebellion rising
If there be light to see
Scorch these thoughts so unworthy

Tar-coloured clouds paint the sky
While tar-coloured minds steal, cheat, and lie
What has the beauty of the heavens
Got to do with leaving the world in sixes and sevens?
If there be light to see
Torch these hearts so unworthy

Walls of confinement, curtains of grey
In secrecy we give ourselves, to vices, away
It’s a living hell in a cell
And it’s what I’d call the Dark Sequel
If there be light to see
Permeate these curtains so unworthy

In pitch blackness I stand in surrender
As I extend my hands towards the glowing ember
Would I have a lit lamp, or a groping spirit instead?
Passions restrained, or let go and fed?
If there be light to see
Brighten the path for these feet so unworthy!

Luke O. Ogar

LESS MIRRORS, MORE SELFIES

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“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts”
Albert Einstein

In a world with so many things to be inquisitive about, the hardest task is often the easiest — knowing ourselves. But such simplicity is deemed as pretty unnecessary, or rather, present by default. We’d rather show the world our selfies with botched faces covered up by the best of artistry and makeup. Albeit the world be swayed, we would be expected to understand the serenity of the truth concerning ourselves. What becomes baffling is the state of euphoria we want to remain in. Of course we have good qualities, but the world (and ourselves) is not as perfect as we tend to paint the picture. And it’s from a simple neglect: to listen to ourselves.

Lessons Learnt from the Insane
The first thing that comes to our minds when we see a person soliloquizing is the question of whether such a person is sane. Funnily enough, we should be asking ourselves such a question. We are often strangers to ourselves, with the least of seconds devoted to self-talk. Sadly, it’s become a norm to neglect oneself, hence soliloquy becomes a strange art for the psychos.

But it’s one thing to do self-talk. It’s another thing to engage in a monologue or dialogue.

Chatters and Shatters
Before you label me as mentally perverted, please understand: it is possible to dialogue with oneself. It is also possible to have a monologue. How? Are we not sometimes guilty of self-appraisal and fanning the flames of our pompous egos? This is the monologue! The moment our self-talk is one-directional and tending towards our passions only, there is a problem. Often, there are two sides: passion and reason, they make it a habit to get in each other’s way. A non-tumultous self-talk is often a monologue.

Sober Turned Sad
So far, this writing has an air of gloom, doesn’t it? You be the judge! For all we know, why does this self-talk (so-called meditation) have a dolorous atmosphere. Certainly, we all have our good and prospective qualities — we do not only soliloquise to condemn ourselves to death. We have to rejoice in the good, and rebuke the bad. Even in the bad circumstances, there is a chance of redemption, turning-a-new-leaf, or whatever process you’d want to call it. The sober mind is often the happiest. But of what good is knowledge surrounded by idleness?

The Tragedy of Knowing
Ignorance is certainly bliss — till the day of nemesis. Knowledge is certainly distress — till the day of restitution. We can choose what path to follow. In the plain mirror, we see all the wrinkles and specks, and waiting for days or weeks, they will remain until we do something. Ignore them or act on them? Your move!

Luke O. Ogar

RE: EXTREME NATURE (A Poem)

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If I told you I could illumine the world
Would you hesitate and doubt?
Or frown, with thoughts hurled:
“What you’re daring isn’t worth a bout”

And if I told you I could rip the world apart
And stir up tectonic plates for an armour
Would the shock waves tear out your heart?
Would you behold me with anxiety and tremor?

That the sea would be my dance floor
Embracing the waves sweeping with electricity
Ripples of graceful amplitude in store
The surge will swipe you from the adversity

The forest, in its splendour, takes centre stage for all
Flora and fauna listen with rapt attention
A huge arena with green canopies so tall
Applause from the roar of predators heightens the affection

So, would you still doubt my escapades?
Mother Earth has lent me her support
Father Time told me to go ahead
And Grandmaster God looked at me and smiled

Luke O. Ogar

WOMAN, BEHOLD THY SON

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“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it”
Mark Twain

I cannot imagine why thou, O Woman, would bear forth so much inconvenience with joy. This is the summary of motherhood; not to say that there is no real joy involved, but to the undiscerning eye, would the cost not be too much to bear? No! Not for the mother.

Children are such a huge blessing, but sons come with an extra price tag. Not to downplay the immense significance of daughters, this epic story intends to dwell more on the clumsy relationship between mothers and their sons. How could loving mothers coexist with often nonchalant males called sons? This tricky relationship involves a lifetime, and comes with its twists and turns. A road travelled by many over millennia, there has never been a boring story.

The Fragile Work of Art
We’d be mistaken to think that the frail nature of the mother is at a grave expense. Why do we even use the word “frail”? I prefer “malleable”. Because the persona of a man is ever changing, we need an “adjustable” mother, and that’s exactly what we have. Sure enough, the sons will be playing catch-up most often, mothers will not just be expectant only in pregnancy, but almost all through the lives of their sons.

The Edge of the Wrapper
The most powerful of men were once helpless babies. In the face of danger, as little children, Mama’s side would be opted for. And sure enough, mothers enjoy the attention and dependence. Although males be a nuisance, we’d prefer a noisy kid to one with apathy. How long will the children remain attached to the wrapper? It depends on the person who ties the wrapper and the one being tied.

Copious Tears
Did someone die? No! So, what happened? Well, you see…this little boy is becoming deviant – he hardly listens anymore. A period of dependence followed by a more independent way of life can be saddening (even if a little) for mothers. Only very few mothers would sincerely state that they were not surprised at the manner in which their sons turned “deviant”.

Many times indeed, her tears are for a reasonable cause. Adventure has no bounds or restrictions, and for boys and young boys, they are truly in the face of danger lying ahead. Their outcome is anybody’s guess, but one thing remains for sure: we see your tears, but we must do what we have to do. It’s either she will understand us later, or we’ll understand her later.

The Resistant Strains Called Sons
Until a son makes his first major decision for himself, he will be deemed too young to do so. It would be an anomaly for a mother to anticipate correctly every decision her son will make. Some will amaze her, amuse her, or even scare her.

A good mother knows the limit beyond which she cannot touch into her son’s plans. Not only will a child’s plan be different from his parent’s, it will tend to be better. Therefore, mothers will learn this painful art of letting go. It’s the smartest move she could have played out.

And The Wall Came Tumbling Down
Amidst the care, smiles, and tears, a man would only later come to full term with the immensity of his mother’s impact on his life. A man appreciates the warmth and care, but not the infant; he rejoices over her strictness and discipline, but not the teenager. It is only at this level that we see men loving their mothers so tenderly – a reunion quite unexplainable.

Lay Your Burden: She Breaks Not
It takes a lot to lose a son only to find him again. Blessed pain, eternal reward; there is no substitute for being a mother. I may not trade places with her, but it’s a role I forever admire.

One thing unquestionable is her constancy. I’m embarrassed when she keeps reminding me: “I’m praying for you”, because she reminds me more often than I pray for myself. And I ask: “Does she not have other children? Other needs?” Blessed be every good mother by her children. Her devotion will not only stun her children but bring them to their knees in love.

Luke O. Ogar

THE EIGHTH PLAGUE: LOCUSTS (A Poem)

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We may wake up one morning with a frown
For our green fields would have turned brown
And all the leafing of Spring brought down
Why? They come in great number to shred the earth asunder

No longer will the befitting funeral of a harvest be needed
The rice husks will need not be seeded
If only the warning signs had been heeded
Why? They come in great number to shred the earth asunder

We may wake up one morning with sorrow
For our kin would have learnt only to plunder and borrow
With no regard for today’s happiness or plans for the morrow
Why? They come in great number to shred the earth asunder

We may wake up one morning with no roof over our head
Wars were too important; good living was a second choice instead
And while there was wailing, no one was interested
Why? They come in great number to shred the earth asunder

We may wake up one morning with our joy gone
No room for mutual companionship or the sight of children playing in the sun
We would end up with loneliness as the definition of freedom won
Why? We come in great number to shred the earth asunder

A sleeping figure of eight indicates infinity
After all, the hunger of the locusts is a certainty
So, what will be the cure to this plague so naughty?
Would they come in great number to shred the earth asunder?

Luke O. Ogar

FICTION IN EVERY WORD

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The Sea of Words. Source unknown

Art is a lie that enables us to realise the

truth

Pablo Picasso

Let’s face it! It’s becoming so complex a world we live in that black and white can hardly be distinguished. Truth and falsehood are so intricately wrapped up, although remaining distinct, becoming occasionally hard to tell which is which. And for most times, it starts with words carefully picked out.

In this article, we hope to explore a little more about lies exhibited and truth obscured. It’s said that it takes a criminal mind to catch a criminal. Well said, everyone is a potential perverted soul deviating from the truth. I, myself, am not a criminal (yet) – if ever …whatever!!!

Filmmakers and Swindlers
What’s the difference between a scene and a scam? One is legal while the other is illegal. One is for entertainment of the second person; the other is for entertainment of the first person. One is shrouded in secret and understood by all in the open; the other is first executed and then understood in secrecy (with much regret).

So, what’s the secret to the success of both? It’s the human interest. I ask myself why I should be moved by a film which I know isn’t real but acted out, but still I’m moved. When our keen interests are involved, we often tend to put aside all forms of “rational thinking”. Same things apply to the swindlers. Their success depends on the interests of their victims. Simply put, the idea only makes sense to a sparked up mind.

Idiots and Intellects
Why are people so gullible time and again? Is it due to a lack of educational enlightenment? Not necessarily so. OK. Between the educational intellects and the so-called educational illiterates, who’s more vulnerable? You’d guess the illiterates? Wrong,  you are. It’s the other way round.

For the intellect, logic is everything. A well crafted lie will weave along logic, leaving minimal room for error. Hence, once logic is satisfied, the victim personalises the idea. A thousand and one times, he will fall prey if it goes in place with logic. However, for the “less enlightened”, intuition is key and often priceless. Just like optical illusions, some ideas are simply not discernible by a second-person reasoning. Intuition disbelieves the idea even though for not knowing why. Although intuition is not always foolproof, it reduces the chances of being swindled but leaves a room for undue superstition.

So then, how good is a lie? What are the qualities of a good lie?

The Art of Lie Crafting
The most important rule of lying is leaving a part of reality untouched. Once again I emphasise that this writing is not intended to aid criminal minds. Perhaps they know better. But to know a thief, you have to conversant with his smell.

Instead of giving a reason for suspicion, a “good” lie goes along with what all other minds expect to hear. Here is an example below. A son comes home from a party at 11pm. He meets his father at the door’s entrance. What’s he gonna say? Watch this:

Father: Where are you returning from at this time? You might as well go back to wherever you came from
Son: Ehm…actually, I’m coming from a party
Father: ( surprised) A party, you say? You even have the guts to tell me that?
Son: I was at John’s place till 7pm when he told me he wanted to check on a sick friend on my way home. On getting to the house, I discovered it was a full blown party. You would not believe the number of cultists from our school who were in attendance. Drugs and alcohol everywhere. I decided to play cool and wait for 7:30 before exiting. When they saw me about to leave, the whole house was upset
Father: (concerned) Did they hurt you?
Son: One of them confiscated my bag and phone. They insisted I stayed till the next morning when the party would be over. John and I had to plead for hours before letting me go. They even forced me to take alcohol and do other strange things
Father: All of that? Are you sure you were not physically assaulted?
Son: No. I’m even surprised I wasn’t. I hope I’d never have such an experience again. I’m just relieved there was nothing extreme
Father: Good heavens! I’m sorry if I misunderstood you earlier. You need a befitting rest. Come inside

Now, this is only a sample. The lie hinges upon the father’s concern for his son. Rather than have a dismembered or assaulted son , he thanked his stars that his son wasn’t hurt, waving aside his coming home late. But the lie starts with admitting the existence of a party. What possibly else would keep one late outside the home if not a social function? By trying to find an abstract reason, there becomes a heightened suspicion placed. Besides, the father would never expect that his son would outrightly state that he was returning from a party. If he could say it, he most probably would be telling the truth.

If we really want to ascertain a lie, there’s nothing we should rule out or assume. By assuming that we can’t be fooled by obvious means, is the first mistake.

Going Virtual
The problem with one-on-one conversations is that words aren’t just enough, the voice has to be right, and the body language has to be flawless. There’s a theory of the face often revealing concealed intentions. Masking this facial betrayal requires adequate practice – a priceless skill sought by many. So, the evolution is moving to the virtual world.

It’s a lot easier to manipulate via social media, although the same techniques are involved. Facial expression and body language ruled out, the problem is half solved. Therefore, be prepared to hear good stories which come at a price. Besides, nothing is free these days.

Pick Your Words: Whatcha Say?
Legal or not, you have one choice in making a statement. Your words not only define you but also determine the extent of happiness or sadness of others. For all I know, words are like bullets that will either traverse the target or ricochet back to the marksman.

Luke O. Ogar

GIFTS AND GRENADES (A Poem)

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If only we had shown more care
The discomfort would hurt more
But the world’ll be a lil’ better for sure

If only our care wasn’t for a wanted favour
We’d gain a lil’ less for ourselves, if any
But beauty large enough for the world to see

If only our requests were not granted
Your disappointment would be so evident
But I’d prefer if patience’s virtue be eminent

If only we hurt ourselves in the end
‘Cos we’d take two steps rather than one
Time to quell the rush: it’s freedom won

If only we did not hate ourselves
Loving the next door soul would be profitable
A ricochet of serenity becomes inevitable

If only we never loved
We’d have no luxury of this day
‘Cos the world would not exist, nor will it stay

Luke O. Ogar

THE FOURTH HORSEMAN

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Death may be the greatest of all human blessings

– Socrates

Lest from the beginning, you think of this as a writing of gloom, I intend not to remind you of the inevitable obvious: death is at the door – it’s a matter of when. But quiet! Can’t we talk about death with smiling faces? (Maybe not smiling faces, but certainly not with fretful ones, either.) In the end, you’d realise that this article is more of the now than of an unknown future.

In the sixth chapter of the book of Revelation (from the Bible), Death is portrayed as the last of four horsemen with a pale horse. Something striking, but not so obvious, is Death personified as a living being. It’s not just a figurative statement – true enough, life and death are so entangled that we can hardly distinguish. It’s the one thing we are so conversant with yet being total strangers to.

Flogging the Dead Horse
The horse may be dead, but flog, we shall oblige. It may well be the most popular topic written about. From the ancient Book of the Dead (c. 1550 BCE) from Egypt, Plato, William Shakespeare, Voltaire, Napoleon Bonaparte, , George Orwell, Mark Twain, Mahatma Gandhi, etc – the list is endless. Volumes and volumes, yet we hardly tire from these.

Why? Somehow, there’s this paradoxical anxiety of wanting to know what death looks like without wanting to experience it ourselves. And for each writing, something new can be learnt. But with all of these, there’s still a huge void of oblivion left to be filled. Why?

Too Close For Comfort?
I once heard someone say that we’re unable to see atoms because they’re too close to us. Likewise death, it’s often imperceivable that we may not recognise it in the face because it is right in front of our noses. In fact, almost all of us at one time or another may have considered ourselves unable to die like others who do. I, myself, once did think so.

As the years go by, and more and more people we know die also, the hard truth starts sinking in. Although only minute few, some adults still have have the concealed belief of immortality even on earth. Fine! Whatever!! But no matter what we think, there remains a strange fear or anxious association with the thought of our own deaths. Why?

What Are You Afraid Of?
We are not strangers to painful experiences; we all have a bit of our own sufferings. Is this why we fear dying? No. Even if we were afforded the most painless type of death to take us away now, majority would decline the offer vehemently. Rather than the experience, it’s the aftermath of the experience of death that we are all wary of.

Breathing stops and I be no more. It’s an instant loss of all we can comprehend having ties to while being alive. Maybe once in a while you’ve really reasoned the “loss”; it leaves you with cold sweat and palpitations. Whether the loss be on the side of our loved ones, our own, or both, this unquantifiable realisation is built up into our bodily system which we carry each day.

Unforgettable Me
There was a time when the world was in existence without you and there’ll be a time when it will continue without you. But it’s an ever-going party – why must the music stop? Entangled between life and death is a time frame by which we are built to achieve a set target. Life is thus generous, but only once.

I’m cracking my head to see why it’s just once and why the occurrence is hardly predictable. I’ll end this with an analogy from the mango tree. In the tropics, this tree has abundant blossoming fruits following the rainy season. To pluck the fruits, there are two broad options: climb the tree or employ the use of sticks or stones. In the course of fruit plucking, leaves will definitely fall down. It matters not whether the leaf is new or old, it will come down when cut. Some other leaves will be spared but eventually come down when they’re old.

Life is the same everywhere else. New or old, young or elderly, it matters not: when we’re cut, we’ll come down. Some will fall down after a robust accumulation of years. Others will come down in their youthful greenness. Some will come down even faster than they got up the tree. But old or young, the leaves will be of service to the point of death. Are you?

Luke O. Ogar

EARTHRISE (A Poem)

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Photo of Earth taken by William Anders on Dec. 24, 1968 as part of the Apollo 8 Mission orbiting the Moon

Out of black and void space
Life is seen in its trace
I wonder, oh I wonder
What lies within that blue planet so yonder?
It lies, oh it lies in sleeping beauty
Peace and harmony, in perfect tranquility

What moves you o Terra, that you exist?
What sustains you o Gaia, in the least?
For millennia, thine people have walked these plains
They have been nourished with food that sustains
Hence Gaia lies, oh she lies, in sleeping beauty
Peace and harmony will coexist with perfect tranquility

Aye! Aye!! William beheld a glorious vision
Blessed be that view of glory’s extension
Nay! Nay!! He needed no diviner
It’s plain to see – Earth is a wonder
Yes it lies, oh it lies, in sleeping beauty
Let peace and harmony reign with tranquility

I need not Will’s sight to view this terrestrial ball
I need not confirmation that the trees are green and tall
But what a sight to behold
Bliss unmeasured, is what he saw, left untold
Earth will lie, oh it lies, in sleeping beauty
Peace, harmony, together in perfect tranquility.

Luke O. Ogar