As I read a book by Lord Francis Bacon in which he wrote, “cleanness of body was ever esteemed to proceed from a due reverence to God, to society, and to ourselves,” I began to realise that God, society, and ourselves deserve due reverence from us. Of the due reverence to God we are taught and kept in constant reminder by religion and the articles of faith. Of the due reverence to ourselves we are taught and kept in constant reminder by our intrinsic desire to be revered. But of the due reverence to society none teaches us and none reminds us. For this reason the due reverence we owe to society is fast being forgotten.

Today the cool thing for the cool crowd of this generation is to challenge everything the society puts forward, to pull down everything it has ever built, and to snub it like an unworthy and reproachful suitor. And because everybody wants to belong to the so called cool crowd, the new ideal thing hyped to be heroic and legendary is to reject everything society offers and teaches us. For this reason we see things like cancel culture in the Western world, something that has a voice expressing itself in almost every nation of the earth including Nigeria. With these new movements sweeping round the world the word “norm,” which is the rules stipulated by society, has become a bad word. Why? Because of the rebelliousness against society.

So, what is due reverence to society? We must begin with a special consideration of the word due. When we talk about due reverence to society we mean a reverence we owe the society as a moral obligation. A reverence that is the right of the society to expect from its members. And such reverence when denied is tantamount to theft. Refusal to give this reverence is one and the same as robbery and ingratitude. To go further to seek to pay the society evil for the good we owe it is ingratitude of the worst kind. Indeed it is wickedness. And such is the direction the generation of today is headed.

But by the way, why do we owe society this reverence? Why is it a moral obligation? How did we get into such a debt? And who gave the society the effrontery to expect reverence from us? A proper consideration of such questions should help us to get right answers.

When we observe the abundant goodness that life brings us by nature we have no choice but to be grateful to the bounteous giver, our Creator. And a close examination of these wondrous goodness would make us realise that much of it come to us through the society and not apart from it. Above all that makes for our preservation, the society grants us the most security.

You may have heard conversations of people in search of where to live when they consider if a place is worth settling in or not. One major question they ask is, “are people living there already?” This question is often heard when the place is a newly developed place. They’re not concerned if or not there are police stations there, or if or not there is an army barrack nearby. No one cares for those as important as they are. This is because your greatest security comes from living amongst your fellow men. From living in society.

A friend told me of how someone left home early in the morning before anyone woke up because he was trying to make it early to work. Because he was alone he was attacked with a machete and barely escaped death. This was because the society watching over him was asleep. Had just a little and powerless infant girl been present watching at some distance, his assailant would have refrained from attacking him. Why? It’s not because she was the commander in chief of the Russian Armed Forces who could order an air strike on the pate of the assailant with a snap of the finger. But why would her presence restrain the assailant? Simply because another member of society was there to witness. With the eyes of society upon us we are almost always ever protected. The society therefore is our protector and preserver ordained by God. We owe our very preservation to society.

So we see how that when we live in isolation, without society, we are vulnerable, and time won’t let us consider all the aspects in which society protects, provides, educates, encourages, sustains, heals, and blesses us. The goodness of the society towards us is innumerable. It is therefore a marked ingratitude to treat the society with disdain. The society deserves its due reverence.

The popular South African word “Ubuntu” encapsulates this idea most beautifully. Ubuntu means “I am because we are.” Meaning without the society we can’t be. This is to recognise the immense importance of society. And recognising it wisdom thus advises us to give society its due reverence.

Seeing that God is the giver of the great and wondrous things that come to us through the instrument of the society, failure to give society its due reverence is also an expression of ingratitude to God. If a king sends a gift by his servant to one of his subjects, and that subject receives the gift but reproaches that servant, he has not reproached the servant and expressed ingratitude to him but the sender of the gift, the king himself. So it is when God gives us bountiful gifts through the society and we turn back to disdain the society in ingratitude. That is ingratitude towards God. That, dear friends, is insolence of the worst kind.

We must have come across the statement, “giving back to society.” This statement in a right understanding shows to us that we are always taking from society and society is always giving. And so successful businesses and companies with good corporate values and a good understanding of life have a way to give back to the society. The wrong understanding of that statement is that it is a form of charity. Or to better put; it is a favour being done to society. But it is not a favour. Another look at the statement would convince you so. It is “giving back to society,” not “giving to society.”

Any entrepreneur or aspiring business person should have this at the back of their minds that the society in which they do a profitable business deserves to be given back to. It doesn’t have to be things that require money, because at the inception of a business to many years after money is scarcely enough to run the business optimally. But as the business grows, and at each point in time along that road, how your business impacts society should be a thing of utmost consideration. Ensuring your business impacts society for the good is a great way to give back to society for a start.

Take for example there are people who make a whole lot of cash from housing. And don’t get me wrong they’re not stealing. They’re honest, hardworking, and intelligent members of society. But the way they go about their business increases the housing deficit in the nation to a staggering degree. That is a bad way to take from society. And most of these people don’t even cover up their damaging acts by the actual giving to society. You know the type I mean. That type that you pose for the camera. They don’t even do that one. Let’s not be that way. As individuals and at each point in time we should know that it is our moral obligation to give back to society.

Taking another look at the word “due”, it also suggests a restricted portion. We can easily understand it when we look at the word in the negative. To use the word “undue” in connection with reverence to society means that that reverence does not pertain or belong to society by right or moral obligation. For this reason, due reverence to society is a reverence restricted to that which under proper consideration is the right of society. So there are reverences that aren’t due to society.

For example if society tells you to spend three million Naira and more on your wedding, and so put you at risk of starving in your honey moon, running from place to place, sweating and trying to hide from your debtors, and thereafter slip into poverty, but you still say you must do it because society demands it of you. That reverence that leads you to incure harm on yourself and your new family isn’t the society’s due. The society exists for our good so the reverence to it can’t be for our injury. God ordained the society for our good.

In summary we must live with the consciousness that the society has its due reverence of which it is a moral obligation for us to give to society. We must respect society’s demands on us, take its advices, and only turn them down when in truth they are injurious. We must avoid and shun all attempts to subvert society and her values no matter the pretext devised to do so. We must play our part to ensure the society is a better place for ourselves and every other member of society. We must give back to society in all due reverence.

It is high time we settle accounts so as to know who we owe and start making preparations to pay our debts, and knowing who we owe and why we owe them would enable us pay our debts happily. Seeing how bountifully the society blesses us in manifold ways, we owe the society this debt which we ought to pay gladly. Samuel Rutherford wrote, “He is an bad debtor who payeth that which he hath borrowed with a grudge.”

Let’s be good debtors. Thank you and God bless you.

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