WHAT DOES ATIKU WANT?

I can’t guarantee you that I have the answers, and neither can you assure me that you do, dear Atikulated one.

It has been said that he wants to be President to steal more money, or that he wants to use it to enter America, or that he wants to enrich his friends. Some believe he wants to rescue us from Buhari, but I think that is what they want, and not necessarily his aim. There is an obvious answer though, and it is that he wants power.

Abubakar Atiku has been in this power hunt for quite a while now. It dates back to when he was selected to be Obasanjo’s running mate in 1998 and probably long before that. His irritation with OBJ truncating his quest for the ultimate power when he was so close was glaring. He has continued to chase it since then. Indeed only Buhari and Kris Okotie have run after that position more than him. Now he’s close to it again.

His lust for wealth (like the average Nigerian politician) seems to have been his primary motive for wanting power, but as the number two man he found ways of getting rich and has stayed very rich since then. His next five generations can never be poor if they manage his wealth well. So there is a possibility he isn’t in the hunt for money this time.

So what else does power offer apart from money? Security. Well, the US haven’t threatened to crate him Dikko style and he has remained quite secure as an “ordinary” Nigerian citizen with friends in high places, despite his former sworn enemy OBJ’s rants and accusations.

I may be wrong but I think he wants power for control. This can be power for power’s sake or to push an agenda. It was rumoured that Buhari wanted power for a Fulani and Muslim domination agenda. Atiku doesn’t seem deeply clannish or religious, and his businesses are running well as it is now, so what could he possibly want to control?

I said somewhere that it may take a corrupt man to run a corrupt country well, after all the mafia is a well run organisation. Is this why Atiku thinks he is the best man to rule this country? Well given what we see in some other parts of the country, he may have a case.

Interestingly, a lot of people have become Atikulated for the sake of being against the incumbent. Like many who didn’t care for Buhari but wanted someone against Johnathan they don’t care much for Atiku. Some were in favour of Buhari when Saraki and co held his hand, now they are holding Atiku’s hand with Saraki and co again. Such is the confusion in the land.

When Buhari ran and won, we expected change but didn’t get much of it. A slow transformation because the rot was too deep and processes too slow; or plain ineptitude of the Government? Maybe both. Now what some expect if Atiku wins is corruption unlimited or a “change” for the better. Who knows what we will get?

I think it may depend on what Atiku wants to control. My hope is that the vacuum created for a man who is already crazily rich and secure, will be filled by the yearning to leave a positive legacy of some sort behind. That is IF he wins. And yes, I know it’s silly to have such hope. Even I won’t bet on it. But it’s just as nice a hope as Buhari winning and fulfilling change, or Osibajo somehow becoming the President we know he can be, or that Mogalu or Oby win and refresh us. Any dream that will deliver Nigeria from the present rot and take her forward is worth wishing for.

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A PHONE CALL WITH THE PRESIDENT

PMB: Hello Femi, how are you?

Me: Ah General, long time. I’m fine thanks, same ol, same ol here o. Nice to hear from you.

PMB: I know it’s been a while but governance isn’t easy, especially of Nigeria.

Me: Hmm, I can imagine……so to what do I owe this call?

PMB: Well I was wondering that the election campaign has started and I haven’t heard from you. Indeed I haven’t heard or read your political views in quite a while. You were very helpful to me in the last election campaign trail.

Me: Lol, well maybe it’s because things have changed.

PMB: Well, that was our mantra last time, let’s take it to the next level.

Me: Very funny General, but for me it’s like “the more things change the more they remain the same” to me…..

PMB: What are you trying to say Femi?

Me: To be honest General, I’m confused. You haven’t delivered as you promised.

PMB: Haba Femi, even you said it would take more than four years.

Me: True, but there have to be signs that we are progressing and some changes. However I look around and…….

PMB: My dear Femi, don’t be confused. You know the rot was deep before we came in. You know that corruption fights back. You know that I was poisoned and ill for a while. You know there was an economic recession. You know that oil prices fell. You know….

Me: Yes, yes, yes, I know all that General, but really those excuses can’t be all you have to offer after four years?

PMB: Well, we removed subsidy, we stabilised petrol prices and supply, we completed some railway tracks, we recovered some stolen funds, we closed some corruption channels, we erm, erm, we erm…. I will get some of my supporters to give you more below

Me: But General, these changes should be there for all to see and feel. Your impact should speak for itself and not through your supporters.

PMB: Hmm Femi, are you Atikulated? I really don’t believe you will swing that way.

Me: Hahaha, you know me well General. I definitely am not Atikulated. But I am wondering if it takes a corrupt man to run a corrupt system well….

PMB: Femi, you know that line of thinking is warped.

Me: Yup, which is why I’m not swinging that way.

PMB: So stay with us, let’s finish what we’ve started. Or are you casting a protest vote?

Me: Protest vote? I don’t think that means anything in this country. Also not ready to vote for anyone who didn’t know he wanted to be President of Nigeria this time last year. Na so e easy? Besides they don’t have enough spread. I doubt if they will gather any seats in the upper and lower chambers.

PMB: So you see, you have no choice. What exactly is your challenge with me?

Me: Well the deep nepotistic, tribalistic and religious sentiments are a concern. My biggest worry is Aisha’s damning comments about you being controlled by some people. Your age and health also make me wonder if you have what it takes to go another four years…..

PMB: Deep sigh…..Aisha belongs in the bedroom, you can’t take her seriously.

Me: Deeper sigh…..it’s comments like this that show you are out of touch. Her suggestions are a big negative for you. Did a bedroom tiff make her come up with those lies as you would have us believe?

PMB: I guess the world is changing Femi. I get so much negative press with twisted stories. I now know why Obasanjo didn’t read the newspapers.

Me: Well, Fashola must have read the papers with glee when he governed Lagos. Action speaks louder. The general narrative about you doesn’t look good.

PMB: I hear you Femi, another four years and you will see all our plans crystallising. We can’t afford to go back to the past. PDP is the past. We’ve been there before…

Me: Well, I’m not sure the present is different from the past or that the future with you holds any promise…… There isn’t much difference between the two major political parties

PMB: Aha! That is one of my points. Saraki and all those newPDP people disrupted our plans. Now that they’ve left we can focus!

Me: If you win, General, if you win. And then you will still need the majority in the senate and House of Reps. And you need to get rid of the cabal.

PMB: There is no cabal Femi!

Ok sir!

Both share a laugh 😄😃😅🙂

Me: It is well General, we will see how it plays out. To be honest, I can’t stick out my neck for you right now. Like Nigeria, I feel like I’m between the devil and the deep blue sea in this matter. We are living on a prayer that whichever direction the wind blows us, a miracle of some sort will make things work out for this country. I once promised myself that I will never regret not leaving like Andrew and co. I still have no regrets but I worry for the next generation.

PMB: I understand and respect your position Femi. I will let you meditate over this. I pray the Almighty Allah grants you and Nigerians wisdom in this matter. I pray His mercies and grace upon our Nation never cease.

Me: Amen General. Thank you General. Do have a good night and I wish you all the best.

PMB: You are welcome Femi, have a good night too. Please let me know when you make up your mind.

Me: I will sir……..

Click

Click

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FORGOTTEN

You will forget me when I’m gone

Despite your protests and your sincere attempts not to

You will forget me when I’m gone

Why should you remember me like you did when I was alive

Why should I frequently pop into your consciousness

I’ve lost my voice and my body has disintegrated

My phone lies unanswered as my number is uncalled

My profile page stays stagnant as it is no longer updated

My clothes and shoes have dispersed

My car passed down or sold

My offices and positions occupied by another

So why will you remember me?

Because you love me you say

Because you hate me some others may say

I admit the former will remember me long

At least significantly four times a year after four years or so

As the frequency diminishes from every day to every week to every fortnight to…..

Stimulating smiles and silent tears as the ache diminishes

Although love never dies, the dead die, and the living live…

Life is for the living they rightly say

It is about new experiences every day

New impacts every day

New irritations, pleasures and higher levels of arrogance or humility

Which only the living can exhibit

The dead have run their race

Their footprints etched in the sands of time

Their pictures and videos buried atop new ones of the living

Eventually forgotten by many

Which is why I say you will forget me when I’m gone….

Gone with my potential, fulfilled or unfulfilled

Gone with words spoken and unspoken

Gone with secrets hidden which may or may never be exposed

Gone to the other sphere where mysteries are solved

As I wait to see if there is indeed judgment, elevation and condemnation

Realization of which will bring tears if the dead do cry

Tears of joy or pain

I will be forgotten in eternity by many of those left behind

Forgotten like the many who went before me

Even Jesus is forgotten by those who know him in the midst of sin

Although major impact and eternal literature keep him alive

But the impact of the above average Joe like me is less

And the books are not always printed for all to read and pass along

Staying power of up to a hundred years hard to achieve

Eventually forgotten as dust covers, water washes, rubble distorts and aging erase my prints……

I will be forgotten even by many who teared up on the news of my passing

They are not hypocrites and the tears are not reptile in nature

The emotion is genuine and the love is real

The pain is deep and I will be missed

But alas I will be eventually forgotten

Because time heals wounds

Because the clock keeps on ticking

Because they have their own race to run

Because that’s just the way it is

I’m not hurt that I will be forgotten

I can’t blame anyone for forgetting me

I will not beg to be remembered

Because I know I will be remembered just as I will be forgotten

All I hope is that when I’m thought of

I will be remembered of for good and with a smile

Before I slip into the recesses of your mind

To make occasional reappearances

Until we meet again to remember each other frequently

And be eventually forgotten by the world we have departed from

As we rest in the peace of eternity

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SHAKEN AND STIRRED

Nasty experience on my way to work about 6.10am, 12th August 2013. I usually leave home at 8amto avoid the rush but I had a long day planned and wanted to quickly negotiate a surgery I had planned for 8am. I didn’t beat the  traffic as I had hoped and still dozy from my early rising I foot exercised with the accelerator and brake pedals to Iyana Oworo (Lagos bound).  From the surrounding darkness I heard a tap on my window. I looked and saw a man asking me to wind down. Strange, cause it was too early for hawkers I assumed. Confused I asked what he wanted through the glass and he lifted his hand to show me a barrel covered with a handkerchief. 

Confused and panicking, I kept shouting, “what do you want, what do you want?” while he kept flashing the “gun” at me as the traffic crawled. In the midst of the confusion I noticed an opening in the lane beside me and moved into it. Surprisingly for Lagos traffic, there was another opening in the next lane and I glided into it as the villain disappeared. 

I was shaken by the incident which lasted no more than 10seconds and I drove the rest of the way to work in a bit of a trance. The gospel CD  I had chosen over the radio when I left home played on and I said a prayer of thanksgiving.  I remembered my friend, Andy Capp, telling me he had been robbed around that area; I remembered the gun riddled car with the blood soaked corpse I had seen about the same spot some months ago; I remembered the Dr and my brother’s friend who were killed in similar circumstances and I remembered my shaken kids when burglars invaded my dad’s house last year. 

I wondered what had led the young man to crime? Poverty, frustration, poor morals or bad company? Definitely it was the work of the devil as we often hear criminals who have been caught plead. I wanted to curse the country and the leaders as I  thought of dusting my passport and checking out. But then I remembered all those stories I read in Daily Mail UK and US and the ones I hear on Sky News. The rot is everywhere I surmised as I got to the office. 

In the comfort of my office, I did my daily devotion. My devotional, Our Daily Bread, today talked about the end of the world and how no one knows when that will be http://odb.org/  I’ve always known that that the world ends for each of us the day we die. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong habits, wrong set of circumstances and it could be over prematurely. Right place, right time, right habits, right set of circumstances and it could be over prematurely too. Whatever we do, its never in our hands.  

The world of today seems to want to put God in the background hoping He will disappear not knowing that that is where He is strongest. Amazingly on Dstv, words like God, Jesus, the F word and other swear words are deemed offensive and blotted from our hearing in movies. Interestingly when in trouble, the lead actor chooses his exclamation from this list. What do you say when you are in trouble? Do u blurt out the “F” word or do you cry for help, “oh God?” We have more options to choose from. 

The incident and devotion of this morning stirred me to share this with you. We continue the journey of life but we don’t have full control over the ship (car, plane, train or whatever) leading us to the end point. Let’s make the right choices and may God continually watch over us and eventually lead us back to him. 

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Blindsided

I

She couldn’t stop shaking. She had even developed a slight headache in that short interval. She had hoped nothing like this would happen to her. She had prayed, even fasted and wished it would be a smooth pregnancy. But this wasn’t good news. The blaring horn of the okada that narrowly missed her as she had stepped into the street, brought her thoughts back to the present.

“Get it together!” she warned herself. But it was hard to do. The tears welled up in her eyes again and she furiously tried to blink them away. She decided not to cross the road anymore and fiddled through her bag looking for her phone. She called her husband again, praying she wouldn’t get that voice telling her his phone was switched off. Luckily she got a ring tone.

“Honey, where are you?” he asked.

“Darling, I just left the scan centre,” she replied.

“What’s wrong?” He promptly asked detecting the quivering of her voice.

“Well, the doctor said the baby is fine, it’s a girl, and she is about five months….”

“And……” he asked, sensing there was more.

“The baby is breech!” She blurted out! “That’s why Kike had a Caesarean section!”

“Just calm down dear,” I’m coming to pick you. Just stay where you are.

In the scan centre, the man who did the scan, who wasn’t a doctor or a trained sonologist, took a lunch break as he had been quite busy that morning. He thought about the lady with the breech pregnancy again. He felt awkward as his “research” after she left had revealed the position of the baby could change anytime and really wasn’t relevant until she was nine months pregnant. There was absolutely no cause for alarm, but he had told her she might need a Caesarean delivery and that she needed to pray. She was to come for repeat scans every week to see if would change. He would have to stick to his story when she came back. He couldn’t afford to look ignorant.

II

He had a headache. His eyes hurt so bad. However he didn’t want to go the hospital. Even though he had been having this headache for 3 days, he hadn’t used any medication, and he just didn’t have the time to go to the clinic. He felt it was time to call his doctor.

“Hey doc, how are you?”

“I’m fine, and you.”

“I’m not too good, can you talk?”

“Well, only for a little bit, I’m quite occupied now.”

“I have a terrible headache, it’s been on and off for three days now.”

“Have you been working hard again?”

“Erm, well yes.”

“It’s 7pm now, how many meals have you had today?”

“Erm, just breakfast.”

“Have you had your eyes checked like I said to?”

“Erm, not yet.”

“It’s been six months since we talked and you still haven’t changed! You are really living a stressful life! You need to relax. I’m at the tennis court now taking it easy myself. Just take some paracetamol and rest. Change your lifestyle too. I’ve gotta go now, I’m off duty you know.”

“Thanks doc, will do.”

As he cut off the phone, it dropped to the floor. His body joined it on the ground a second later. He wasn’t aware of the headache anymore.

III

“This can’t be right!” she wondered.

After all she had seen a consultant and he was reportedly very good. She actually felt he had taken his time to listen to her and to go through the possible causes of her complaint of contractions in the seventh month of her pregnancy. She had declined the admission he requested but had done the tests and collected the medication. The admission didn’t seem so necessary as the contractions weren’t frequent or very painful. The doctor also did say she could watch it over the next few days if the medication didn’t improve the situation and she was to come back for results of a test which took three days.

The contractions seemed to have waned and here she was at home, reading up the medication on google. The drug information said it was an anti-hypertensive! There was a lengthy list of possible side effects which didn’t sound pleasant at all. And finally, they said it wasn’t to be used in pregnancy! “Doctors! They cause so much harm!” She muttered to herself as she decided not to use the medication. She said a prayer and went to sleep.

Two days later she was rushed to the hospital and delivered prematurely.

There are so many reasons why patients get mismanaged in medical care. The issue of perspectives tends to be the reason sometimes. Arriving at a conclusion concerning a medical condition is sometimes a painstaking process. Although, to be fair, it can sometimes be simple and straightforward, depending on the condition itself, and the knowledge and experience of the doctor. However as the stories above depict, where care is accessed, how it is got and adherence to treatment are also crucial to the final result.

Doctors are taught that to appropriately diagnose a patient, we have to take a good history (like the telephone doctor tried to do), do an examination of the patient (which he failed to do and thus missed the severe hypertension which led to the mild stroke) to arrive at a clinical diagnosis. The diagnosis can change with the history and after the examination. Some tests could be required, and the results could yet change the diagnosis again. Treatment can only be effective when the right diagnosis has been made, and the patient adheres to it. The medication the lady was scared to use has minimal effects on the blood pressure when it is normal and is very safe in pregnancy despite what Dr Google said. That knowledge needed to be balanced with clinical experience, which is why her doctor opted for it.

The full picture is often required for the right judgement to be made. Probably that’s why the bible says we shouldn’t judge. However we can patiently and wisely investigate further to get a clearer picture, lest we be like the blind men feeling different parts of an elephant and having no idea what is right before us.

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A CHILD OF SAINT PETERS, A PART OF THE COMPANIONS

Being a modern day child then who only spoke English and sparingly communicated in his local tongue, Sundays at Saint Peters Church was a bit of a struggle for me. The 10am Yoruba service did help my Yoruba though, especially as I was also dragged to  the evensong in English, so I was able to translate some of the words and get better understanding. The services were just about two and a half hour long in those late seventies to early eighties (as there weren’t so many collections taken and only two harvest ceremonies every year). But even then I thought it was long. It was made longer with my father being the Vicars Warden and having to count the collection of the day….probably a few thousand naira then, with a lot of coins. We were always last to leave the church and this made me miss some of my favourite Sunday TV shows like The Banana Split show, Internatonal Wrestling Association show and Dan August amongst others, much to my chagrin.

However church was a family affair as my eyes always scanned the pews to see the regulars in their self designated seats. My Mum’s aunt, Mama Akinwande in the front row of the left central column and the Aiyeolas’ in the front row of the right central column, the Fasinas in the side column on the left, Idowu Sebanjo in the choir with Mr Christopher Kolade directing, the Osoba’s and Okutubos in their usual seats as well. Going round to greet family friends before and after services was a pleasant tradition. As we grew up, sneaking out to gist during services was fun as Folabi Aiyeola, Femi Aromolate and myself found time to gist rather than sleep or daydream during sermons. Femi once led us to the church bell tower. I can’t remember if we actually pulled the ropes of the bell or not.
The most enjoyable part of Saint Peters then was the Christian Companions. This was the church society my dad belonged to. It was the coolest society in the church with the most social men as members. They all had swag. From the presence of Odofin Bello to the chill of Osoba, to the charisma of Aiyeola, to the warmth of Kuju and Okutubo, the humour of Ajayi and Eso, led by the authority of Adebajo, they had me spellbound whenever the strutted down the aisle on their anniversary singing their famed anthem…..

“Nwon yo l’oke, Egbe Companion yo loke, nwon dabi ewe”

Their meetings and parties were great fun as there were so many jokes and laughter as they playfully taunted each other amidst the serious business of supporting the church and each other. We the children automatically became friends and their parents became our parents in the spirit of true family bonding. Anytime I saw family reunions of black families in American movies, they reminded me of Christian Companion meetings. Plenty of laughter, food, music, dancing and great company. Those men were full of life and the world seemed to be at their feet. Their wives were ever supportive and poked fun at the men as they shared equally in all the goodness. Christian fellowship amongst friends is always a rich experience.

Leaving Saint Peters in 1984 when my dad became a priest was with mixed feelings. I was leaving a lot of friends behind just when we had started our own society, the Boys Guild. The short precise English services at Our Saviours however made up for that. As life continued to happen to me, I followed dad to many churches, went to different churches on my own in Ibadan during my undergraduate and postgraduate years (finding me a lovely wife in one of those churches), but Saint Peters was ingrained in my memory. My conversion did happen whilst a member of an Orthodox Church and the experiences in Saint Peters was part of the build up to that great event.

Dad retired in 2009 and returned to Saint Peters, but I wasn’t ready to go back with him as I had found peace and fellowship elsewhere. He became the President of the Companions some years later and had to host meetings. During one of the anniversary parties, traditionally hosted by the President, I attended as a guest. A lot of the men were still there, with their wives. Some of my friends who had become members were also in attendance, sharing in the endless jokes and laughter. Otunba Ajayi, a retired military man proceeded to conscript Lekan Osoba and I to join the Companions in what looked like a comedy sketch. However it did impress on me. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the pleasant memories of the past, maybe it was seeing my friends fellowshipping like that again, maybe I was getting old and traditional, maybe it was God’s intervention; I really don’t know, but I joined the Christian Companions in 2015.

It felt a bit strange at first to be “an unequal equal” to the likes of the amiable Mr Savage, Mr Haastrup, Mr Aromolate, Mr Osoba, Otunba Ajayi, Ven Eso, and Mr Odunusi. However the presence of Folabi Aiyeola, Bayo Odunusi, Gboyega Odunlami, Sola Okutubo, the younger Savages, Tope Sanya, Laja Ogunlaru and Dotun Adebajo made me feel very comfortable. I soon became a part of the jokes and brotherhood, giving self prepared sermons as a host at meetings and contributing to church activities, even though my church attendance was and is not so regular. I’ve made a lot of new friends in the society and I do feel at home with them.

Yes, omo St Peters ni mi, and ara Companions ni mi. We celebrated our 50th anniversary today, 26th August 2018. It was quite emotional to see the surviving members who had slowed down a bit gracing the occasion once more. Proof that time may be having its toll on the body but not the mind was embodied in Mr Aiyeola who reeled out some taunts like it was yesterday. It was nice to see many Companions children who came around in the reunion of the anniversary. The church remained the same, albeit with air conditioning and TV monitors, and the service (Part 1, before all the collection harvests and dedications and thanksgivings started) was also the same, as was the fellowship. The ghosts of many departed seemed to be a part of the service today.

As I walked down from the altar in the middle of the guard of honour mounted by our wives and well wishers with my fellow Christian Companions brothers with our white agbadas and special filas singing “Egbe Companion yo loke…..”, I had goose bumps stimulated by a feel good feeling. The story of life continues and what is most important is our relationships and memories. We must continually create good ones and enjoy the ride.

 

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DID YOU USED TO COME FIRST?

Some may have made that claim to their children, rightfully or wrongfully. Well, that first appeared on my report card twice so I have the right to say it to mine 😁. The other two times it should have, our performance rating was for the overall class set and I was knocked down to fifth and third. These were in secondary school. Interestingly in primary school I wasn’t really interested as I was content with my fourth to sixth. Finishing thirteenth in the class set in the second term of my first year in FGCL, with the carrot of a scholarship for the first twelve in the third year, motivated me to be one of the awardees a few months later.

Academic excellence is good as is indeed any achievement one seeks. However the place of best could only go to one person in the class. Quite often we always knew who the contenders were. I always wondered what it was like to be low in the ratings, and I got my chance when I truanted in preparing for, and skipped a paper during the mock exam before our graduating exam. My worst report card ever was the last one I took home.

At home my dad had this ritual of not commenting on our report cards until the day before we left home for a new term. In my good sessions I was confident, and when same happened in the last term of my fourth year I entered his study with swag. He opened my report file and showed me each academic report from the previous two years, asking me to read the Class Teacher’s comment at the bottom. I was surprised to see the consistent, “He can still do better” despite finishing in the top five of the class or top ten of the entire class set. It was humbling.

I thus learnt it’s more important to give your best than to come out tops. Giving your best always leads to a steady improvement which is the goal of education and being trained in anything we do. In this era where things change so fast it’s difficult to stay on top and silly to rest on ones oars. You just have to keep rowing. You may not come first….yet, and indeed you may never come first, but there are enough examples to show that coming first in class or a competition, doesn’t mean you are the best and will be the most successful. Success as in “winning the race” also tends not to be permanent. Even Usain Bolt didn’t win his last race.

I attended my Alma Mata’s speech and prize giving day some years ago as the Special Guest, and I delivered a speech on giving your best. As the students came out to receive their prizes from best in class to best in home economics, and best in so many categories, I sought out the winner of the prize I had donated. As suspected, when I saw him, he looked out of place, as in he seemed surprised to be getting a prize. The prize was for the most improved student in JS2 (I also donated a prize for the most improved student in SS2).
I guess he learnt that there are many ways to “win” and I hope it spurred him and all those who have received those prizes for the last four years, on to more improvements. Indeed I wish I could give prizes to all those who continuously improve themselves. Are you worthy?

Some schools don’t use positions anymore and students have to gauge themselves based on the class average overall score. Smart for this fragile generation with its more fragile parents. It also teaches the lesson about winning without coming first. As we adults continue the rat race, we have to learn to “win” like that too; the standard being the measurable (indeed SMART) goals we set for ourselves morally, spiritually, fitness-wise, career wise, in business and even in dancing (try shaku shaku). Win everyday by making improvements no matter how small. Give yourself a prize and then forge ahead. Pace yourself but know that you can still do better.

Good luck.

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