(My birthday gift to you)
The 21st century has its resistible or if you choose to say, irresistible allurements that have entangled many of us in the web of distraction, poverty and materialism. Emergent social media realities are creating a new culture of social behavior that is gradually eroding our religious and cultural values. These emergent social media realities that we experience in social celebrations are what I call the allurements of the 21st century.
0ne of such allurements, which I also call emergent realities, is the concept of “STUDIO PICTURE”. By this I mean the idea of taking birthday pictures in the studio and all the artificialities that go with it or the “packaging”, as Nigerian youths would call it. It is becoming a new culture that is creating unhealthy competition among youths and adults. We are all unconsciously adopting and endorsing a new culture of social celebration. I do not condemn people who go to have better pictures in studio. What I do condemn is the unhealthy competition and ostentatious display of vanity that characterize such practices. Young people are mostly culprits of this ugly trend as many are willing to do anything ungodly to raise money to go to a studio to package themselves for their birthday. I pity young girls applying unneeded and overmuch makeup in the name of showcasing beauty. Some of them are even going nude on social media just to celebrate a birthday. A social media critic once said, ” Be careful with those lies, everyone is now beautiful and rich on Instagram”. This ugly trend should be seriously looked into to salvage the future of our youth, especially those in the higher institutions of learning. My questions to the youths are: Must you go to a studio to package yourself for a birthday? Must you borrow money to buy new clothes or even borrow clothes from people for the same purpose? We have to watch it before we are consumed by these resistible allurements.
What your birthday represents is a day of thanksgiving and not a day of “packaging”. If there is anything that should preoccupy your mind on such a day, it should be prayers of thanksgiving and sharing with others your gifts, as a symbol of your thanksgiving for the life and blessings you have received from your Creator. It is a day one can engage in charitable acts with the poor, and the less privileged. It is a day to help friends in need.
Another resistible allurement that demands our attention
Is MAKING THE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION A BURDEN ON OTHERS.
Very sad to say that many are imposing a birthday celebration as a burden on their friends, husbands, uncles, etc because they see others being celebrated by their friends / family. In as much as anyone can celebrate your birthday, It should not be demanded as a right or be made a burden on your friends and family. It is a privilege, not a right. People have to decide based on their financial strength whether to celebrate you. So, dont be a burden on others if you can’t celebrate your birthday yourself. That being said, it is commendable to also motivate people around you to make donations to a worthy cause as a way of celebrating your birthday. A wealthy man once asked the wife what she wanted for her birthday gift and she replied, “Honey please build a little house for that poor widow beside our house in the village. She has been homeless for years”. The husband was shocked because that was the last request he expected from the wife. Materialism has made us so selfish and blind to the needs of the poor of our age. God bless this selfless woman.
Your birthday is a day you should think of what you can give and not what you hope to get from people. I once got a message from a youth and it read, “My birthday is coming up on Sunday and I am expecting my gifts”. I gave this reply, “That’s the problem with most of you. Must you use your birthday as an opportunity for fundraising for yourself? Must you request gifts?” Honestly, these issues need to be addressed urgently because our society is fast becoming self absorbed. lv I were the youth I would rather structure my message to read, “Please keep me in your prayers as I celebrate my birthday on Sunday” or if I chose to be secular, “My birthday comes up on Sunday please do celebrate with me.” There are many other socially acceptable way of reminding people of something without any form of request.
We have to resist those resistible allurements of this age. What shall we hand over to the younger generation? For what will posterity remember us ?
Shall we teach them that birthdays are celebrated in studios and on Facebook and Instagram?
Shall we teach them, to ask people for gifts on a birthday?
Shall we teach them to dress immodestly and post obscene pictures on social media on a birthday?
Are we not going to teach them that a birthday should be celebrated with prayers, works of charity, and sharing with those around us as a way of showing gratitude to God?
Are we not going to teach them to request Masses and go for thanksgiving in the church in appreciation to God?
Are we not mandated to teach them the truth and strengthen them to overcome the allurements of modern life?
Try and maintain your integrity. Do not let pressure from peers or modern life lead you into an immoral lifestyle. Don’t compete with anyone, be self content. You must not go to a studio if you can’t afford it. Be mindful of the way you dress and your postures when you take pictures in the studio. Don’t go to the studio or throw big parties at the expense of your little savings. A birthday is just one day. Don’t forget above all to commit a moment of prayer to thank God for your birthday.
PLEASE DO KEEP ME IN YOUR PRAYERS TODAY AS I CELEBRATE MY BIRTHDAY. MAY ALL GLORY BE TO GOD THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF MY BEING. FOREVER I GIVE THANKS TO YOU MY GOD. Cheers.
©Clem C. Aladi
October 7, 2019.