By Alozie Christian
Tasting a food or drink just once is sufficient to say if you would want to have it a second time or not. Just once is sufficient to say if it is sweet or bitter. And when it has to do with things or persons, a single encounter is most times sufficient to say if a person is good or bad and determines whether a second encounter would be desired. Just a single interaction and one is hoping for more or hating to have another. Just one action and one could cause many other people a mood swing. Just one inaction and one could be accepted or rejected. You can imagine! Just once is sufficient for like or dislike, love or hate.
Until a person is tested just once, no one can say he or she is positive or negative to any disease or ailment. But once he or she is tested just once, it is sufficient to say if he or she is positive or negative. Just an autopsy was carried out on George Floyd and it was sufficient to state that he was corona virus positive before his death, although he did not die of corona virus. His neck was knelt down on just once and that once was sufficient to cause him to begin to wail: “I can’t breathe!” until he eventually passed out. Just once is quite sufficient to cause or to prevent, to affirm or to disaffirm. Just once is really powerful!
Every now and then, it is not strange to hear people say: “it was my first time; I did it just once”. But the fact of just once does not remove the blame nor does it deny the reward of a word or action. So, if an action is deserving of punishment, the culprit, even if he or she just spoke the word or performed the action just once, he or she is blamable and liable for the punishment due. In the same way, if a word or action is deserving of reward, the individual of the act receives his or her reward regardless of whether he or she carried out the action just once or spoke the word just once. Just once does not exonerate! (Even if it does, at least not in all situations).
So, it could only be wise that we remain wary about the things we do just once. You could inflict pain on others for what you say or do just once. And the fact that you had done it just once does not prevent an imminent disaster on the receiver, if any. The UNIBEN student that was raped at the RCCG church in Benin was obviously raped just once (even if there were several rounds and it was more than one rapist), the fact remains that she was raped just once. And together with being hit by a heavy object and the eventual bleeding which all took place just once, she was rushed to the hospital just once and gave up the ghost eventually, just once. Just once hadn’t saved her from the imminent disaster of death. The rapist or rapists, might have been first time rapists; she might have been their first victim, but it doesn’t deny them of their title as rapists.
Day in, day out, we have our eyes opened to new realities; we see things we hadn’t seen before; we know things better than we knew them before. And in all of these, we can be sure that it took us just one look to catch sight of them. And just once is enough to keep us knowledgeable about these things. It doesn’t necessarily have to be many times before we can say we know something; one clear perception is sufficient for understanding. And when a word is spoken, it doesn’t have to be spoken again before it can be assimilated. Little wonder, the popular saying: “a word is enough for the wise”. William of Ockham was not wrong to have said that “there is no need for unnecessary multiplication of entities”.
All through history, events had to take place just once to become historical. They didn’t have to take place over and again to do so. Even when similar thing happens, it becomes a claim that “history repeats itself”. Little wonder, the assertion of G.W.F. Hegel: “history teaches that history teaches nothing”. The fact of historical events that had taken place just once, over and again, was sufficient to spur his claim. And when the Igbo people say: “ihe ojo gbaa afo o buru omenala” which literally translates as “if a bad thing lingers on, it becomes tradition”, that bad thing, has just to be performed once, and then over and over again, and it becomes a tradition. Just once wields great power!
You might be thinking you have to perform a particular act more than just once, or say a particular thing more than just once, before you could be associated with a particular bad or good thing. That would be a wrong way to be thinking. Just once could associate you with good and just once could associate you with bad. Just once is quite sufficient! Just once could dent you and just once could heal you. Just once could raise you up and just once could bring you down. Just once could bring you blessings and just once could bring you curses. Just once could cause you harm and just once could bring you safety. Just once could change your whole story! Just once could turn things around for your good and just once could bring you untold hardship. Be mindful of the things you do just once!