I don’t know them.
I just stumbled on them in the bar.
I don’t know their names too, but they looked very African, west African to be precise, so I gave them two names akin to their looks. Orunmila and Omode.
Orunmila is the elderly. Very elderly. He had scanty grey hairs on his head, that I could count them fairly easily if I had a few seconds to spare. A wrinkled face blessed with heavy eye bags, broad nose, and a huge silver white beard. He doesn’t smile much, in short, he looked haggard – only before he started speaking. Then, his hyper-gesticulations exposed his gnarled hands and his half-toothless mouth.
Omode was around my age, he doesn’t look to know much, but eager to.
I missed the beginning of the conversation but started eavesdropping around this point.
Orunmila: Perhaps what you are asking centers on ethics? you mean, standard of good behavior?
Omode: Yes this, what’s is your standard of good behavior.
Orunmila: Oh! To always say the truth (or at least, to not lie).
Omode: And why should I? why should I always say the truth?
Orunmila: Because it follows that one will then have to behave as if one will always say the truth. And that’s very important
Omode: OK. Sounds easy but that can be a tough thing to do – sometimes.
Orunmila: No, it’s tough a lot of the time – when you have something to hide.
Omode: And why do something tough?
Orunmila: Doing what is easy makes life tough, you know, and striving for what is tough makes it easy. Its like a law. You can’t beat that.
Orunmila: You see, striving for that standard of truth makes one’s life very easy, very peaceful, and very rewarding. If you love yourself, you got to do just that, it’s like a selfish thing to do. And for the ‘toughness’, it’s a fair price to pay if you ask me. To have a peaceful and rewarding life is hard. A price has to be paid for it – you need to bring something to the table. You need to put some skin into the game.
Omode: But there are times we make compromises
Orunmila: If the compromises don’t make our lives less easy, less peaceful, or less rewarding, then, I will say, perhaps those are good, pragmatic compromises. If otherwise, of what utility are such compromises?
Omode: That means we can’t always say the truth?
Orunmila: I will let you answer that, and you have to be careful with answering that. But always remember, deceit ranks high up there, it is why we suffer, why we make ourselves suffer.
(Photo Credit: Soman)