Learning from our misdoings (part one)


(LLB 4) 

Well, at least we had very many holidays this semester, the longest being political. One more hurdle jumped, it seems, for His Excellency Yoweri Museveni after his victory.

Anyway, sometimes I wonder how anyone can have enough energy left after such a dreadful marathon to even think of running a country as its president.

Like many people, I guess, I wonder why Ugandans do it this way. It has nothing to do with the policies of the candidates, more with finding out what sort of person each one is.

But then they seem to want their chosen candidates to have lived a life without blemish. No peccadillos, no adolescent experiments, no switches of policy, no bad marriages, no scandals, and of course, no traces of any illness.

Yes, we both know that most of the greatest Ugandan presidents were either former rebels, naughty, or both, but they still want a candidate without a blemish from birth.

And yet I know, and they must know, that a man without blemish is not only likely to be a great bore but also someone who can have learnt little along the way. For it’s by suffering that we grow and by mistakes that we learn.

The other day I was asked to take part in a radio series. The idea was to ask a selection of people, one a week, to be interviewed about what they had learnt in life and how and when they learnt it. Flattered as ever by the attention of the media, I agreed to be one of those interviewed.

It was only after I had hanged up that I realized I wouldn’t be talking about high school, law and inspiration, that if I was going to do it honestly I would have to reveal my all, all the big mistakes, failures, the times I let people down or, God help me, deceived them and was found out, and sometimes not.

Will I, because it has not happened yet, dare be that honest? But if I don’t, I will have cheated again because that is how I really learnt, how we all learn, from our misdoing, even more than from our doings.

I already know that it is going to be a very good thing for me to do. Suddenly, too, I am beginning to understand what St. Paul meant when he said that it was in his weakness that he found his strength because then, as he put it, the power of Christ could find its way in.

He (St. Paul) was writing to the naughty and arrogant Corinthians, the yuppies of yesteryears, but the message is still true today. If you cannot own up to your failings, you won’t discover your strengths.

Why don’t our leaders do the same, be they in politics, public service, student leaders, or, dare I say it, the Church? It might actually be a good way of celebrating this Lenten season as a gift to those millions of learners who are not in school any more and who need to urgently discover their strength through their failings.