Misplaced Values

Misplaced Values

by Sr. Anastasia Onukafor, MMM              Nigeria/Republic of Benin               17.02.2024

Value is simply the regard I place on things; how I perceive the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. It is also the belief I have about what is right or wrong, the hierarchy I conceive in my mind about what is most important and what is least important to me.

‘Where your treasure is….there lays your heart’! Matt 6:21. The more I reflect on this injunction of Christ, the more I am convinced that personal values are formed primarily from social environmental factors. Education, exposure, social media may also go a long way to influence us. However, peoples’ value differs according to their cultures, norms society, family lifestyles. And one key factor to consider when judging others is that upbringing, environment and culture shape our values.

Some people obviously value things like money property or even their animals. Others value friendship, people and choose to give their care and attention to the ones they love. We make sacrifices for things or people we value and give less attention to others who fall second place in our hearts.

One experience that has recently challenged my perspective is my encounter with Simon who brought his pregnant wife to our clinic for checkup. It turns out that beautiful Hannah was bleeding and as such needed to be admitted for close watch and proper care. Convinced that Hannah was now in good hands, Simon left and was expected to come back later with money to pay for his wife’s treatment. One hour passed, two hours, three hours…..eight hours gone by and there was no sign of Simon. At this stage, the matron and other staff were worried. Hannah’s husband only returned in the evening of the next day…Twenty four hours, seventeen minutes being waited for to show face! And in that disappearance, he left his pregnant wife without food….without money.

His sudden appearance attracted so many questions but Simon simply explained that he went to look after his cows!!! My mouth dropped in disbelief when he added that the cow was more important than his wife. Naturally, one would think this is an opportunity to challenge that perspective through awareness raising. But in a gentle convincing voice, Simon added in the local dialect, ‘it is the sales I will make from my cows that help me to take care of my wife and pay the bills’.

After this one experience, we have been working hard to restore the right and dignity of women through sensitization in groups and health talks in the clinic and engaging men in conversations to create awareness on women’s and girls’ rights in the community.

This is a cultural issue and might take a while for the impact to be felt because the women are presently comfortable with their place in the society. Everyone deserves to be valued and treated with dignity irrespective of colour, race, nationality and disabilities because we are all made in the image and likeness of God.