Wednesday, August 4, 2010

During a recent conversation, a friend pointed out that one of Nigeria's problems is a growing inability to appreciate and have compassion for others. She pointed out that some believe that if a person is deemed to be outside of one's immediate family, tribe, socioeconomic class or religion, then that person does not deserve to be treated well. This observation goes a long way in understanding the treatment of Nigeria's most vulnerable groups. From domestic help, to children who are sometimes mistreated and violently abused by their employers or those in a position of power over them.

Compassion Wallpaper

It is hard to pinpoint the source of this lack of compassion especially since there were times when being kind to strangers was the norm. The lack of compassion is also not unique to Nigerians alone, however, within the context of Nigerian society, its impact is unfortunately, easily observed from the treatment of children accused of being witches, to other incidents of depravity. One could blame the many years of military rule for whipping the humanity out of Nigerians who shout aggressively at each other to prove a point and who argue over everything during what should be the simplest of processes. Others might go as far back as colonialism, but doing so would require an analysis that is ill-suited for the current medium.

So where did compassion go? In Nigeria, it went the way of many a dead language as decadence and excess have become expected with the super rich living lavishly while the super poor suffer on less than scraps. While it is to be expected that some will be less well off than others, the fact that the gap continues to widen cannot continue for much longer without creating a inter-class friction that will lead to violence. Already, class warfare exists as evidenced by the wanton kidnapping of children and grandparents for money by young unemployed men who must earn money one way or another.

Despite these realities, there remains the fact that there are untold stories of individuals managing to hold onto their ability to be kind and caring. There are those who will go out of their way to help others, even those they do not know, when necessary. Unfortunately and depressingly, it seems that those individuals might be in the minority.

Now that compassion has gone missing, one wonders if it will come back. Most animals that go extinct have no chance and are lost forever. Thankfully, compassion within the Nigerian context, unlike a potentially extinct species, can make a comeback. It will take a lot of effort but such effort is always needed to find something important and worthwhile when it goes missing. Compassion for the underprivileged and a commitment to creating as fair a society as possible is an aspiration Nigeria cannot ignore. Because, it is the very essence of humanity and without it, Nigeria will completely lose itself.

From the Archives:
Beggars, Etiquette & 9ice
- Is 'Lagos Justice' Really Justice?

Poverty or Peace?
Money Rituals
Being Duped By A Family Member
Nigeria vs. Nigerians
Are the Poor To Blame For Their Poverty?
- The Demons That Hold Sway Over Nigeria
Guilty By Association 

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ThirtyPlusGeek said...

Whilst I wouldn't go as far as to say compassion has gone missing, i think people have come to the realization that self preservation NOW is the over riding objective - which I don't see as bad. Perhaps the key is that the national ethic seems to have evolved into doing it at all costs, irrespective of whose ox is gored.

Saratu said...

Interesting post!

Out of bewilderment of the desperation of some people's circumstances, there is the pervasive notion that one has so-and-so difficulty because someone is out to get him/her (even your own kids!), so one has to be armed at all times. People douse their houses in holy water as though it were dettol, and the more they believe they have, the stronger the security, the heavier the guns they buy to protect it.

I think there is kindness there - it's just carefully hidden behind the burglaries and barbed wire fencing.

Olamild said...

Quite insightful!

" Compassion for the underprivileged and a commitment to creating as fair a society as possible is an aspiration Nigeria cannot ignore. Because, it is the very essence of humanity and without it, Nigeria will completely lose itself."

A wise man once said that If we find we cannot help others, the least we can do is to desist from harming them. God help us to realize that we'll be nothing without lending a helping hand to someone in need.

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