THE word ‘idol’, in its major dual meanings, conveys significant messages when used. Idol could mean a graven image that is being worshipped or figuratively, a popular person. This piece will dwell on the latter meaning credited to an idol. Dead or alive, the legendary works of a hero or heroine live. The fact that a man’s works outlive him makes his works superior to the man himself. When the mortal body carrier is long gone, his works would still be a reference, good or bad.
In agreement with a popular Yoruba aphorism and as life’s reality also teaches: a person is not relevant or reckoned with when alive; it is when he dies that he becomes an idol. This maxim captures a true picture of the life we live as human beings. The voyage called life, which is between birth and death, is a reflection of a natural tendency we are inclined to portray. We all, one way or the other, are guilty of this tendency. What’s this tendency? Pretence! We are forced to grant attention to the one who dies. This hypocritical behaviour of man usually leaves certain words unsaid or acts undone that could have encouraged or saved someone if timely delivered.
Do not let the beautiful compliments about the person come when he is no more. Tell the person those good and beautiful things about him while he’s alive and can appreciate them, not when he’s gone. It is only those who are alive that would see the written words about the deceased’s life and times. Endeavour to be the laughter in people’s lives; not sorrow or bitterness to them. Don’t wait until people die before you pay them compliments. People should not be commended only when they are dead; they deserve the commendation in their lifetime. Those encouraging words go a long way in making the recipient do more.
In a group social media platform, for example, most participants hardly drop comments on achievements of members or even send birthday greetings. But when information drops about the death of a member, Rest in Peace, RIP, messages begin to pour in from all. Every member suddenly becomes active with virtually all having something good to tell about the member who just passed on. Sadly, the dead don’t have the access to read the various dirges written about them or in their honour, only those alive would. Even those epitaphs that are usually engraved on tombstones are in reality not meant for the dead; they are written about the dead as a message or challenge for the living.
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