“Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment” – Anthony Robbins
When over-sized egos, deep inferiority complex, unrelenting greed and intense selfishness combine and become central in any culture, you get what we have – A culture in which it is almost impossible to have a healthy conversation; a culture that seems to display incomprehensible erratic behaviors. Everyone wants to be the most important and conversations, like just about everything else become a competition; a competition for name dropping, chanting of the size of personal wealth, reiteration of the number of degrees one possesses, the extent of ones connections etc etc. Many Nigerians have become boorish! Too many of us are narcissistic! There is just too much focus on self to the degree that we are self destructing. We have managed to successfully eradicate most of our middle class and are burning out like candles lit at both ends.
Some of our actions resemble a cultural psychosis. Many of us no longer know who we are on a consistent basis. Most of us are afraid of each other because we fear being “burnt”. More than enough of us readily burn others because we think we are smarter. Some of us nurture the notion that non-Nigerians and/or “oyinbos” are less wily and less likely to burn us so we drive all our most important businesses toward them and get infinitely angry when some of them display unscrupulous behaviors. Our egos are hurt when people are not just as we say they are. How dare they not be who we say they are? We refuse to accept the reality that people are people; some good and some evil. We continue to hurt each other and in turn we hurt our own selves!
We accuse each other of fleeing to the other side and yet we do not create safe places for each other at home. Some of the accusers have their bags packed ready to flee to Dubai or the West for months at a go because they feel compelled to return to the scene of their unending crimes where they bilk and hoard much wealth from fellow Nigerians and need to be validated by an impoverished audience that they can oppress and impress with their haughty status; A twisted form of validation! Other accusers have bags ready to flee but are yet to lay hands on the documents that will allow them to do so. Many foreign spouses are equally admired and despised because some view them as trophies and a means to an end while others see them as disruptors whose imagined or real attributes they will now have to compete with. Many fail to recognize that some of these foreign spouses might be the love of the life of some of ours. For a good number only that which enhances our financial assets count.
We say that free enterprise is alive and well among our people and claim that the laws of supply and demand are working well. Businesses hoard goods that should be sold to a hungry public, creating false scarcity in order to maximize profit. Bargaining is part and parcel of the traditional market process and yet we make the purchase of bare necessities near impossible for unsuspecting people and those who wish to live within their means. Only the ragged and rugged get a fair deal. We make every effort to thwart healthy competition and to crush everyone else’s child that we think may take what we want for our children whether or not our children are qualified or deserving. Many of us live with no thought for the future beyond what we think should be ours even though it belongs to many more generations yet to come. We squander our resources and in decadent shows of affluence and we teach waste to our children.
We rain insults on and yet adore crooks who have stolen our collective money and trampled our pride, then we shun those amongst us who are impoverished and have the audacity to seek help. In our mania we copy everything we see – good or bad, appropriate or not. Some of us even attempt to mimic caring without any understanding of the emotions and actions that say we care. To be part of a cause is seen as a trend in some circles rather than as arms stretched out to help and to bring relief to others. Education is for sale. Quite a few schools proclaim that they are international schools although they barely have an existing curriculum. Some of us open schools not to provide learning communities and to eradicate ignorance, but to acquire more wealth from the desperate and ignorant.
Religious organizations abound not because we have become more spiritual but because we find that selling God to our fellowmen can weaken their defenses and make them easier to exploit. We complain about how the white man told us our indigenous religions and philosophies were worthless, how he suppressed us with his new religion(s) thereby leading us into a place of confused thinking. We do not live by the code of ethics of our fore fathers nor do we show that our thinking is clear on non-secular matters. Some of us discard our own traditional clothing when we go to our western style places of worship and when we conduct high level business. We even chant in foreign tongues in worship. Is this because God only notices his Nigerian children when they are in a suit and tie or when they display their command of English, Latin and Arabic? Some will read this and say God is in control and then return to business as usual. Not so, each one of us is in control…some more so than others.
This is not an indictment of my people but a witness to what seems to be our collective madness. Too many of us are hurting, too many of us are drifting away from the homeland, but rarely does a single one of us take responsibility for contributing to this insanity that makes us reject each other and the things that will ensure our survival into the future. Our self adoration and infantile maniacal ego stroking must be replaced by a healthy love of self and country and an ability to empathize with and honestly care for one another. This is not about religion and more prayers. This is about our survival. Let’s lay pride aside and forge our path into the future. We need a new trend developed around decency and ethical conduct.