A Review of the Book "The Spirit of Understanding" by Daniel Oduor
I have taken hours reading and studying your handiwork and I am impressed. Allow me in this message to sincerely congratulate you for such a piece. It sums up most of what life is and not. You dear friend have set the bar too high.
As I was reading on, I appreciated the ease by which your words flow. Your mastery of English language leaves the impression that English is your first language even though I am privy to the fact that it is your third language. The flow of the language is effortless. I would like to encourage you to maintain it at the simple in your subsequent publications.
Sir, the message in the book attempts to answer age old question among human being. You have made contributions into understanding who a human being is as an Individual and part of the whole. It is enlightening. What I mean is that as I read on I observed that you dissected the “person” and forces that enhance as well as delimit his existence. You further delved into metaphysical realms. And like some of the philosophers, anthropologist, sociologists, psychologists and other men and women of high intellectual inquiry into the question of “Being” human, those know to me in person and those I have interacted with through their writings , in comparison you are coming of age.
Having said all that, I would like to give my feedback in relation to the content of the work. Please Sir, allow me in humility discuss some areas that I felt inspired me. Let me begin by saying most of the chapters were spot on and I would not like to dwell on them. these include the chapter on “Concept of Success”, “Anxiety and Desolation”, Standards of Living”, and ” Entrepreneurship and Financial Freedom”. The others that I will not comment on because of my deficiency in the subject matter are: “ The Mystery of God’s Presence “ and “ The Spirit of a True Radical”.
Allow me to assert that I found the book pregnant with knowledge yet it did not adequately tackle each area of knowledge in-depth. I am of subjective opinion that it should have taken a certain perspective and dwelt in it to it minutest detail. I am of the opinion that different aspect of knowledge can adequately address more or less questions bedeviling a person and his here and here after. It could have taken a philosophical or religious or psychological or anthropological or sociological approach and the message would have been driven home either way. Nevertheless all chapters tackle issues that trouble a lot of people and in spite of the means the end has been achieved.
y friend, on “ The African Spirit” you did well in trying to anchor the book on the African philosophy the “Ubuntu” it is indeed important that as African we interrogate our place in the global society to evaluate and re-evaluate our values. To examine our past vis a viz our position in the cosmopolitan world. How our past values interact with the acquired values which are a result of our interaction with other cultures. I agree with you that our point of engagement with other cultures should not be an inferior one. We ought to interact as equals.“ All things are equal; as concerns being equal than others. We can blame fate or nature or the first mover for the fact that somethings are more equal than others are. It is clear that some places are more endowed than others- inequality is inevitable and our differences be celebrated. That is why Africa should not be blamed for what it hasn’t done right.” P20 as a matter of fact you have hit the bulls eye. In nature be it plants or animals of the same species differences in ability exists even among siblings and that does not mean one should despise the other. The reality though is that it is nature that dictates that the fittest survive and the dominant triumph over the weak.
Africa happens to be the least among equals. It does not mean that that will always be the case. Observe a last born among siblings when they are born they are at a vulnerable position although they are equal by right to the older siblings. With exception to those overly protected by their parent, a weakness in Parenting, Most last born develop very fast trying to catch up which eventually they do. “time” is all that Africa requires. It will grow there is no need to panic. Africa will come of age. Most of other continents that look down upon Africa should read through their own history. If it is wars theirs were more barbaric; if it is disease they had their fair share; famine, the worst the world has ever experienced yet were not in Africa.All the negative thing currently associated with Africa already happened elsewhere. Just like the last born Africa is lucky it is protected by the elder brother who intervenes amid protest from African who despite their weakness feel slighted. Africa will soon come of age.
iving and life. I will not say much on this because this is a very subjective issue I doubt whether there can be an objective position on the subject. What has been said about life and living you summarize when you say: “ No science or art can explain what life is.” And no person can purport to possess knowledge of what life is. Indeed life is a mystery and whatever one says about life is their own interpretation of life including what you say in this book. Their words are only a motivator to the listener or reader to navigate their own life in a particular direction depending on what they perceive their reality to be.
Allow me therefore to add a few words of my own which emanated from your inspiration on what life is. I can summarize life as “ A HUMAN BEING MUST LIVE” human being are busy, working, sleeping, waking and all action associated with a living being is to make it live. We live in as much as we go through the physical, psychological and spiritual stages that are essential to our nature. The socio-political and economic aspects are just but aid to living. Out of experience I have learnt that whatever men say to me about life and living come to one axiom human being must live. Let men accuse , deride and ridicule you in your actions ; let them complain that you don’t respect or fear them; let them say you don’t earn your living honestly; but they too will sooner or later, will come down to the hard, cold and indisputable fact Man must Live.
“Are we here on earth waiting for death? How can we have life so that we wait for its end?”p.39 We are mortal beings and yet we are immortal too. In body and all the physical attributes we are so mortal.Our form as it is, is mortal. The non- physical attributes of a human being “spirit, Mind, psyche etc are immortal. We should not preoccupy ourselves thinking of death. It is only cessation of our physical being. Don’t ask me what happen to the non- physical attributes. I don’t know. To me it is a mystery.
I have lived long enough though to see a lot of people having died in pursuitof life long before they started to live. You find them in clubs jerking their bodies in funny movements in dance halls to weird noises. Soft people who were not any better for their knowledge of a world of things. Yet if they must live, let them.
On my part, it is true I love life not because i am used to living but because I am used to loving. And to me who love life it seems that butterflies and soap bubbles and whatever is like them among people know most about happiness! I have no reason to fear death. Why should I fear death? when I Daniel am alive death is not here! And when death comes I am not there!
he self, Me, I am as I am. Let me comment on these since I feel they are the summery of the massage of this book. I must admit though that I am summing up everything as a consequence of my impatience and to a large extend my laziness. Please understand me sir. You are right, “I am as I am.” I am what I perceive myself to be. I am the sum total of what I have absorbed into I am creating the “Me” me and I are one and the something depending on where I view myself from. And that I am human this I share with other humans. That I see and hear and that I drink and eat is what all animals do likewise but that I am Daniel Oduor is only mine and belongs to nobody else, to no other persons not to angel nor God. Just as a horse would be as much destroyed if it were changed into a man as if it were changed into an insect. A person would be as much destroyed if he or she becomes an angel or Godas if he becoming a horse!
What to me is the biggest human question is “who am I?” the answer to this question have been disrupted by self-awareness, reason and imagination which have disrupted the “harmony” which characterizes animal existence. Their emergence has made humans into the freak of the universe. He is part of nature, subject to her physical laws and unable to change them yet transcends the rest of nature. He is set apart while being a part; he is homeless, yet chained to the home he shares with all creatures.
My friend I am now tired I would have shared my reflection on happiness but may be some other day.
Let me leave you with the struggles of one of my friend. He claims that he has a conflict within him. That he feels to fulfill his purpose to live he needs help from another free being the female of his species. He says that he has never thought seriously about marriage. He claims he has once or twice fallen in love but he is naturally girl shy, although he respects women. So the two incidents of falling in love were only incidents of passing nature. And he has always excused excused his girl shyness by telling himself woman is not yet necessary in his life project. He could live quite gaily without partnership with the female species. He does not necessarily deny the importance of physica `sswl side of such partnership. In fact if he must live this cannot be overlooked.
Please sir, in your next volume make an attempt to address the issue of love and marriage in-depth since your target population are the youth some of whom are grappling with the question of their individuality, freedom and independence on one hand and their lust and crave for intimacy which delimit their individuality(narcissistic tendencies) and perceived freedom. In brief narcissi versus altruism.