H O W A R D   U N I V E R S I T Y

Faces & Voices 5
An Anthology
of Verse and Prose

the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

E. R. B

Faces & Voices 4


By Nicholas Warner
Country: Trinidad
Major: Finance
Email: nicholaswarner19@hotmail.com 

Life… What is the point? Where are we going, to whose end and for what purpose? I had an argument with my friend recently; he said life is pointless and I vehemently argued it is not. In arguing with him I felt as if I was only regurgitating with no real conviction as I myself have serious doubts.

More and more I see kindness and benevolence as a mask to the ulterior motive of self-gratification; most individuals driven to do good only when there is some benefit to themselves; adhering solely to the “What’s in it for me” attitude. It is so pervasive in society, it is disgusting; from the highest echelons to the lowest reaches, from the politician to the hustler, everyone trying to forge ahead at the expense of others. Do you live in a society, which is victim to the “crabs in a barrel” syndrome, where the only way to break the glass ceiling is climbing and clawing on the back of a brother? Do you feel you live in a society where doing right only makes you an underling? 

Everyday I become enraged when I see others doing wrong without consequence and moving ahead. I suppose one might attribute it to the unfairness of life and leave it at that, but are we too willing to accept this excuse? People forget, to a large extent, that we determine if life is unfair by being eager to take advantage of the misfortune of another and by accepting behavior, which is less than forthright from those around us.

“No,” you say, there are still good people on this earth, God fearing men and women. This is true, but what motivates their actions; is it hope of reward in the afterlife, or fear of reprisal in this one. Once I was a member of a community organization and I would go to feed the poor and so on. However, on one occasion I witnessed the organizer bluntly refuse a vagrant’s request for food that he had in his hands. I believe many religious people pass up practical occasions to do good and when they do good a grandiose show is made of it. If you look around you it is quite difficult to find total unselfish acts made on the behalf of complete strangers. It is sad to say but we exist in a world where you are called naïve if you believe in the good nature of people.

I frequently ponder if people realize that change begins with themselves, too often we wait for momentous events such as marches to effect change and in the meantime do nothing. Most people fail to realize change begins on an even smaller scale. Yet can one individual make a difference? I sometimes feel so helpless and insignificant in this daunting world of ours. I know for change to be effective it has to be unanimous but some are too engrossed in their own materialistic and insignificant universe to comprehend this point.

What I sincerely desire is for each individual to realize that he has an inescapable obligation to better the lives of those less fortunate. At the end of the day we are not here to make ourselves happy, as so many do, but to enrich the lives of others. 

© 2001 Nicholas Warner

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© 2001 Howard University.
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse and Prose, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2001. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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