Posted by Emeka Ugwuonye | 9 July 2014 | 3,382 times
Yesterday, the mighty fell. Brazil shocked Germany and the entire world. Even those who don’t care about soccer were all astounded by the 7-1 scoreline during the first semi-final of the 2014 World Cup played at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. They all said they had never seen a thing like what happened to Brazil in the field. We do not speak of yesterday’s game with the normal language of winning or losing. Rather, we speak of a tsunami, an epochal event that has never occurred before and may not occur again. It was a fateful situation for both Brazil and Germany.
A whole nation, a proud nation of proud people, was brought to its knees in the most dramatic and humiliating manner conceivable. We are talking of hundreds of millions of humiliated people. Many Brazilians would be willing to give up something precious to avoid what happened yesterday. But they couldn’t avoid it. They would have to live with it and they must now fight to overcome it. That is life. That could also be your life – you may have been disappointed in a shocking way. But you are not alone. Like the Brazilians, you must rise and overcome.
If I had the opportunity to inspire you today, my message is simple. You are not alone in disappointment or humiliation or in any sense of faiure. You must learn from the story of the Brazilians. They are good soccer nation. Their team was nearly invincible. They were used to demolishing opponents. They were confident of victory. It was all on their own grounds and they owed their people a clear victory. But they failed in the most catastrophic manner imaginable.
The lesson is that when you fail or when you make a mistake, it is not that you were never good. It is not that you were not smart. It is not that you were not beautiful. It is not that God cursed you. Indeed, you were able to fall because you have been standing all along. If you were lying down on the ground, you would not have fallen. So, do not despair when you fall. Remember that falling or failing is something that happens only to successful people. Failures don't fail, and the fallen don’t fall. They can’t fail.
In my own personal life, I have developed and perfected a process of dealing with failure and disappointment and even humiliation. Remember that I was arrested and detained by the EFCC leaders when I had not done anything wrong. I was humiliated. People (like the EFCC leaders) would be glad to polish my shoes and make my coffee. But they arrested me, locked me up, deprived me of my freedoms, and then sponsored the worst social media campaign against me, calling me a thief and what have you. That was a humiliation. I naturally felt devastated. But I quickly learned from the failings and disappointment of others. I asked myself then: what would General Ironsi have felt when young military officers who would tremble before him stripped him naked, beat him up, tortured him and murdered him? How did Chief MKO Abiola feel when people that had worshipped him humiliated him and triggered events that led to his untimely death? I also wondered how Julius Caesar must have felt when he saw Brutus stab him. All of a sudden, I found myself smiling and not worrying even though I was in detention without any modicum of liberty. This is the same principle I have applied each time I am disappointed. You learn from others. You learn from history. You learn how others managed their own adversity and became triumphant despite those adversities.
You must have been disappointed by someone you loved. You must have been disappointed by your boss or someone you trusted. You must have found yourself in situations that make you feel you are finished and that life is not worth living anymore. But truly, that is when your character is being tested. That is the time you should worry the least. Just look around and far into history, and you would find that you are not alone and that you are able to overcome.
Let's learn from the story of the mighty Brazilian national football team. Take care and God bless all those who have suffered one disappointment or the other. This is the time for you to show your character. This is time we know who is ordinary and who is extraordinary. And remember again that only a successful person can fail. Failures cannot fail, and the fallen can't fall.
•Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire, lawyer and activist, whose photo appears alongside this piece, wrote from Lagos.
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