Poles and Notions

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It is quite astonishing how quick we, as a people, are to pick sides when something happens. Nigerians and sentiments are like yin-yang. Inseparable!

When news reports trickled in about the arrest of former Petroleum minister, Dieziani Allison-Madueke in the UK for allegedly laundering $13bn, two groups suddenly emerged. Those in her support were assembled in the blue corner whilst those against her were in the red corner.

Those in the red corner desperately want to see Diezani jailed and thence celebrated her arrest, without asking questions how the media came to that figure of $16bn. The opposition, in the blue corner, described Diezani as innocent until proven guilty and slammed the President’s anti-corruption war as mere noise used to harass and persecute his political enemies.

This is based on their belief that the President has surrounded himself with chronically corrupt citizens like Rotimi Amaechi et al. Perhaps they are right about Amaechi et al but if they feel Dieziani deserves time until UK court proves her innocence/guilt, why can’t they extend such benevolence to the likes of Amaechi etc? After all, everyone has a right to a fair trial. Or maybe not!

Some days later, there was a fight between new Super Eagles handler Sunday Oliseh and veteran goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama which led to the latter announcing his retirement from the national team. As expected, Nigerians, without waiting to get to the root of the matter, were split again into two sides with both teams hurling insults at each other.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an opinion and taking sides but the least one can do is to be objective about it and back up your claims with facts, not assertions. Objectivity was lost during the aforementioned debates, and replaced by bias. Being objective is a herculean task for many due to the amount of bias we carry around.

It will amaze you how bias, especially what we hear others say, can sway our judgements and decisions. For example, if you were told that someone is good or bad at something, it would be hard for you to forget that information when you observe the person and in the process, miss other vital positive/negative traits of the person. Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson wrote in his new book LEADING, “It is astonishing how many biases and preconceived notions we carry around, and these influence what we see, or more precisely, what we think we see.”

Subjective thinking is based on an individual’s emotions, opinion and perspective hence it comes easily and naturally to everyone however objective thinking doesn’t. It is a skill that is acquired and developed by paying good attention to details. Just as kids develop vital personal and social skills by observing behaviour of their parents, siblings, peers or teachers, that’s the same way one needs to be a keen observer to think objectively.

Objectivity is based on facts and observations. It is a very important skill to acquire because it stops one from making hasty conclusions by taking a step back from one’s own thinking to critically examine facts/opinions/assertions at his/her disposal.

It also requires one to look at things from other people’s point of view hence one has to be willing to give a fair hearing to what others have to say. No matter how right your opinion may seem to you, a single perspective never reveals the whole truth.

Observing and listening are underrated activities, and they cost nothing. Follow arguments with objectivity, not bias.

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The Past Does Matter

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Everyday I hear people say, “the past is the past. It doesn’t matter; just leave it there.” This always gives me a wry smile because anyone going on about how the past doesn’t matter has shown his/her hand.

Does the past really matter? Yes it does! If the past doesn’t matter, why do we still see people the way they were back in Secondary School or University (until proven otherwise)? Why does your doctor always take your medical/clinical history when you visit the hospital? Why do your potential employers check your track record during an interview? Why do people cling to their culture/tradition? Why do African parents insist on investigating their potential in-law’s family history? I could go on and on but I am pretty sure you get my point now.

This may sound harsh or judgmental to many reading this but this is just me embracing reality here. Personally, I don’t judge people by their pasts anymore but it gives me an idea of what to expect from you and prepare myself for it.

This is not a “fun” topic; people are often torn between digging into their potential partner’s past and leaving the past where it belongs. Paranoia grips us when people try to find out certain information about us that we don’t want them finding out, and dealing with disrespect, distrust and uncertainty.

Most people would ask, “what’s the essence of asking about one’s past when s/he will definitely lie? After all, people do change you know” Yes! People do change but our past must have had a huge factor in triggering this change.

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Life is about events, which can either have positive or negative effects on us. Also, these events have a tendency to reoccur so taking history of these events prepare us better to face such things when they reoccur.

For instance, our immune systems spring into action when pathogens (viruses, bacteria and other microbes) invade our body and try to get rid of these foreign invaders. Afterwards, our immune systems make a memory for them and subsequent responses to these antigens are quicker and more effective than those that occurred after the first exposure.

Your past is your story; we are not proud of the wrong choices and mistakes we’ve made but these mistakes often embolden us in all ramifications. We build/develop ourselves based on past events and experiences.

For instance, apostle Paul/Saul went about persecuting Christians with zeal until he was arrested by God on his way to Damascus and was converted to Christianity. He preached the Gospel of Christ with the same zeal he used in killing Christians back in the day until he was martyred.

Life is about patterns; some we carry with us whilst we acquire others as we go along. However, sometimes we let these patterns go unnoticed and this can have a drastic effect on our perceptions of logic, and cause and effect. A good understanding of these patterns allows one to have a different outlook on life as well as the insight to embrace the truths unfolding around us.

Finding out the truth about your new partner’s past is often hard to take, especially for the broken-hearted and faith departed but it is better to know the truth and be prepared for the worst; it saves one from so many things s/he probably could have easily avoided. The past also helps the future generations to act from the mistakes of their predecessors.

Nonetheless, it is also possible to ignore the past and still have happy and fruitful personal relationships with people. In everything, there’s always an outlier.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.