Watch my back

By Rev. Fr. Eva Chuma Nnamene

To watch is to look, to observe and to take care, or to care about someone or something. The English idiomatic expression "watch your back" is a caution to be careful about oneself and one's surroundings, or to make sure one is not caught unawares. Often, when one is told to watch his/her back is when one thinks that all that glitters are gold; when one thinks that those around him/her are all friends; or when one easily forgets that a closely trusted confidant might betray him/her.

The Igbos lost the Nigeria/Biafra war because of series of betrayals they suffered. Though Nigeria is still united but the dreams of the Legendary Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe to unify the country was scuttled severally by his cohorts like Sir Ahmadu Bello and Chief Obafemi Awolowo who were tribally bent on dividing the country. The tyrant Julius Caesar was betrayed by his nephew Brutus who joined the plot to kill Caesar. With a kiss Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ his Master for thirty silver coins.

To "watch my back" changes focus from oneself to another person, for instance, myself. Just as it changes focus from myself to yourself when it is addressed the other way round. In addition to this change of focus, instead of the cautionary word for me to be careful about those around me, "watch my back" gives me confidence that you are there for me; that you are watching me - not to betray me or pull me down, but there to help me; to advise me to be my best self.

Often in our world, in our communities today, when people watch the back of others, it is to pull them down; to pinpoint theirs shortcomings even though those they criticize might be better themselves; yet they would criticizing them; and they would never advise those they are criticizing so badly to correct themselves. When we see others make mistakes and we make no move to correct them, to advise them, rather, we trade romours of their mistakes and sneer them at their backs, then we may become accomplices to their mistakes. That is why Glen Campbell brought this message in music:

If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds he's sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and say, you're going the wrong way
You got to try a little kindness
Yes, show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you'll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets
Don't walk around the down and out
Lend a helping hand instead of doubt
And the kindness that you show every day
Will help someone along their way

When God asked Cain about his brother, it was for him to be his keeper (Genesis 4: 1-26). We are to bear the burdens of others (Galatian 6: 2). You will be judged by how well you took care of others (Matthew 25: 35ff). We are advised not to tell lies against others (Colossians 3: 9-10). Do not pay evil for evil to anyone (Romans 12: 17-21). The truth is that when you "watch my back" and I "watch your back" our world will surely be the best place to be. God has made us keepers of our brothers and sisters. Let us be their keepers.

"This is dedicated to those who became victims of betrayals, and those whose backs were rather watched for evil than for good".

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