More than once, I have told the story of the road accident I had at Ijebu-Ode in 2001. There is this little detail that I do not often mention.
Saturday, 24th March, 2001, I was travelling from Akure to Lagos. I had joined a friend’s family car. Near Ijebu Ode, one of the tyres burst and the car rolled over. My face was smashed on the right side and I bled seriously from mouth, nose and ear.
We were rescued and taken to Ijebu Ode General Hospital. There was no functional suction machine at the Hospital and they needed to drain my lungs. So, I was sent to Sagamu – it was named Ogun State University Teaching Hopistal (OSUTH) at the time. There, nurses made a drama of “he has head injury.” But I remained alert, positive and hopeful.
When I needed to urinate, they would bring a stainless steel bowl for me to urinate. The following morning, I needed to urinate again and I told a nurse. She said, “I’m coming” and left.
Minutes later a lady in mufti came. She greeted me. I greeted back. Without any further discussion, she unzipped my shorts, took my penis and began to clean it with a swab. It left my mouth wide open.
Me: “What are you doing?”
She: “Relax, I learnt you want to piss. This will help you piss more easily”
Next she began to pass a plastic tube into my penis. I was infuriated. I pulled the tube out, as I released some urine – I was so pressed already – some drops sprayed on her. She warned that the tube could break as I was pulling it and that it if broke, I would need a surgery to remove the rest from inside. I did not care. I could not care.
I was angry. The mere fact that she was a doctor and I was an accident patient should not be license against my dignity. She should have told me what she was about to do.
Well, I got to understand afterwards that the tube is called “catheter.” Then I knew her name as Jane, and that she was a Registrar at the Hospital. Actually, she was working on a study of urination patterns in accident victims. Oh oh, so the catheter was not really about my comfort as I could always manage to stand and urinate into the bowl. It was more about her study. Had she communicated well with me, I might have cooperated. But no, her approach was rude and off-putting.
Why I am telling this story today?
Today is Sunday. It’s a day for homilies and sermons. And story telling. I remember the story because of church and teachers.
It’s good to have wonderful and deep insights into the mysteries of the scriptures. However, we must learn to be conscious of people’s dignity when we teach them. No matter how much of the scriptures you understand, you cannot force your knowledge into me. And if you come with an attitude that you emphasize that you are wise and knowledgeable and that I am stupid and lack understanding, it will be difficult for me to learn from you. You cannot teach me by rubbishing me. Even if the knowledge would be beneficial to me, in the long run, I would easily rebuff it like Dr. Jane’s catheter, if your attitude towards me is not decorous.
Even if knowledge were food, I will find a dry morsel of knowledge with peace more amenable than a fat cow of knowledge shared with envy, and strife and arrogance. (See Proverbs 17: 1)
It is better we don’t even share the scriptures at all, than to pass insults, mockery and jabs back and forth just because we are sharing scriptures. Our goal in sharing scriptures is to seek to “build up” the people with whom we share scriptures rather than prove to them that we are wise and they are stupid.
Being abrasive with scriptural knowledge touches the other person in a deeply personal way that is sometimes not decent enough to reveal.