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.

The Friendship/Gossip Triangle by Chukwukadibia Ude

The friendship/gossip triangle represents a geometric series of conversations between three persons who know each other.

This piece explains how these conversations engage many others who revolve inside the triangle thereby instituting positive or negative attributes depending on the nature of these conversations.

A triangle has only three points representing three persons as explained in this piece. (Any shape can be used for this analysis but what matters is the understanding derived from it)

The lines that bind the three points are assumed in this piece to be bound with two things: THE TONGUE AND THE EAR.

Simply put the tongues and the ears of those at the three points of the triangle.

(For emphasis, THE HANDS could represent the lines when you consider the social media or instant message applications that we operate nowadays. In any case, the hands only type what would have been said if it were possible to talk).

THIS ARTICLE WAS BORN WITH A REFLECTION ON THE USE OF THE TONGUE

(The ear is only considered because the next person who speaks, speaks only what is heard or speaks a different interpretation of what is heard)

HOW THE THINGS WE SAY PUT US IN SITUATIONS WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO HANDLE

Why do we give deaf ears to the Philosopher Socrates’ advice? He said: “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?” As easy as it sounds, almost everyone disobeys this principle.

Why do we always involve people where they have no responsibilities at all? Joyce Meyer even clarified this stating pro actively that “anywhere you do not have responsibility, do not bother to have an opinion”. With this, even when the speaker has made the mistake to speak what you see as irrelevant to you, you could help stop the flow if you pay attention to Joyce’s advice. The baseline is that when one starts a conversation, the receiver/listener could help shorten it if what is to be said is neither true, good nor useful or as well following Meyer’s statement. This will teach the speaker a lot about what is actually necessary to be said.

Here comes the analysis:

Three persons A, B and C are friends who know each other and represent the points in a triangle while their tongues and ears join these triangle points and as well bring about many companions who are not in any case necessary to the personal friendship of A or B or C or even their group relationships.

Questions to ponder:

Why would any of A, B or C tell their problems with anyone of the other two to the third?

Why won’t the two resolve their problems?

Why explain your personal affairs to the other two? Are they God?

Why mention what someone did to you and even his/her name to the other two? Do they have any responsibility in your problem with him/her? Why can’t he/she approach who offended him/her?

Why would the other two also spread the issue to many others?

Why can’t A tell B what he/she doesn’t like about him/her? Why rushing to complain to C? Why rushing to communicate your issues with another person to someone who isn’t involved? Have you thought of the dangers of involving him/her?

Why would A, B or C act as a friend but actually works as a spy? Are you in party politics or are you practising in the field of detectives?

Why would A destroy the friendship of B and C (or B that of A and C as well as C that of A and B)? Why involving D to Z in your friendship with A, B, C, A & B, B & C, A & C and even affecting the friendship of A, B and C with D to Z?

Even if what A says is true about B or C or B and C to D to Z, how good or useful is it to them?

If you understand this well, you will observe that only the tongue has engaged so many companions.

Oh, the power of the tongue. This power is seen to hold life and death as recorded in Proverbs 18:21 and the advice thereof is that he/she who loves it will eat its fruit.

The ear of the receiver has also helped to transfer the information by hearing and the tongue of the receiver then keeps making it a geometric build up until the triangle makes one’s life almost ruined.

D to Z in the analysis represents many people we involve in what does not really concern them. We multiply our companions by the things we speak out. Remember, Proverbs 18:24 warns that a man of many companions may come to ruin but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Find that friend and still follow Socrates and Meyer’s advices on such a friend.

Not taming the tongue can be likened to a bad attitude and a bad attitude is seen by some great men as a flat tire which means you cannot go anywhere without changing it.

Most times, the way we see life could make taming the tongue almost impossible. We may want others to be like us. We live by the law and expect everyone to do to us the same we do for them forgetting that everyone sees life differently. Using our ‘do me, I do you’ perspective, we hardly trust, we complain a lot, we give up on people easily, we involve many things and many people even when the situation has not got the extent we think about. The way we think about life has been a contribution to our use of the tongue.  When we see life as a law, there is a low understanding of love and where there is no love, there is dishonesty and all these lead to the way we apply our tongues to irrelevancies. Even the holy book confirms that love is the fulfillment of the law and not the other way round. When we love, we could help shape our lives. Do not forget that mercy triumphs over judgment as noted in James 2:13.

Comparison is another big threat to friendship. The more we compare, the more we take sides. The more we take sides, the more we hardly know the truth. The more we know less of the truth, the more biased we become. The more biased we become, the more we never see something good in people. This in turn blocks the knowledge of the truth. The funniest thing is that we know the truth just that our negativity buries it. The final point is that it leads to hatred and envy.  With this, all we do is TALK, TALK, and TALK. Guess who we talk to: people that have no business in the subject matter. The tongue sells the product of our comparison to markets where there are no customers at all to buy it rather than mere advertisements. No one buys the dummies, they are just samples. Please, let us reduce the extent we sample many people. Why have more dummies in your shop than real products?

If you feel disturbed about someone, please call the person and have a face time conversation. Life is a test; we only pass it when we stick to approaches that promote value. Without the right values, nothing is sustainable.

Someone advised that a right word at the right time to the right person at the right time can’t be a coincidence but orchestrated by God. We all make mistakes but we are also aware of the new mercy of God we have every day so let us always filter our words before speaking.

The way we see life, how we think about others, how we react to what others do to us, the way manner in which we rush to explain things to people who act as if they care, etc. should be our next line of action when it comes to change.

I remember the update someone used on social media; it says “Your thoughts, Your life, Your choice”.

If you have said what is not meant to be said, this is the time to have a re-think. You could be causing a lot of injuries. When you speak what is neither true nor good nor useful, you cause a lot of harm. Like Benjamin Franklin highlighted, the tongue offends and the ear takes the cuffing. He also advised that it is better to take many injuries than to give one. He, whom you have given so many injuries, will be pitied but you who cause the injury will be hated. Be wise. Do not speak off the cuff, otherwise you will feel so injured within yourself as well. For those who listen, when it is your turn to speak, don’t speak off the cuff as well.

If you have been wronged by what someone said about you, do not worry. Rumours do not define you. Even if what is said is true, count it as a something that requires you to grow. Remember, it is only at the tree loaded with fruits that people throw stones. You are so fruitful, that’s why most people are interested in you. Keep shinning. The problem is not the problem but your attitude about the problem.

In all you do, discipline the tongue so well. No plan will survive first contact with the enemy as stressed by Van Molke. Often times, we reveal our plans to people with our tongues.

One thing could help make the tongue always so clean. It is not tooth brush and paste. It is the ability to keep the mind clear and bright. Someone stated that the mind is the window through which we see the world. Most times, the tongue says what the mind feels or the interpretation given to what is seen or heard which revolves around the masterpiece called the human mind.

Despite Uncle Remus quote stated thus, “you cannot run away from trouble, there ain’t no place that far”, I believe that we could still reduce our troubles by minding what we say and listen to.

If you desire the inner zone of the triangle to be filled with peace and true friendship, mind what you say or listen to or discuss. If you desire the inner zone to be filled with gossips, worry and injuries, then keep talking the way you want. Its either you create a friendship triangle or a gossip triangle.

Do not gossip. Do not allow gossips or it gets into you. It destroys the mind. The pain of the mind is more than the pain of the body.

Within us, we have so many troubles. Do not go criticizing others. D.L. Moody even emphasized “right now I am having so much trouble with myself that I do not have time to criticize my friends”.

Settle your issues with who is concerned. Do not make it a debate for others. The others you tell have no business. Such debates make no good history.

Make your friendship triangle peaceful. Find friends who try as much as they can to make theirs peaceful. Embrace them.

Be watchful as it is the only way. If you are just careful, you could still make a lot of mistakes. Being careful is not enough. If you don’t want it to be heard, tell no one at all. Use your discretion to filter words that you want to release; words could uplift or destroy you.

Whatever mistakes you have made, see them as lessons learnt and forge ahead. Malcolm Forbes defined failure as success if we learn from it. The worst is repeating the mistakes; the triangle will grow as a gossip triangle to a gossip decagon and become unbearable. It is always better to have a peaceful network in a friendship triangle even if the triangle is so small. Mind your thoughts, mind your tongue and mind your ears. When you do not know what to reply over what you heard, do not start explaining; just smile. A wise man made a wonderful comment that no matter the language you speak, a smile will never need a translator.

The tongue weighs practically nothing but only a few can hold it. I need to learn, you need to learn, we need to learn.
We can make our relationships sustainable. Let us be truthful. Let us be lovely and lovable. Let us be faithful. Let us forgive. Let us encourage greater values. Let us know. Let us learn. Let us grow. Let us live. Let us be alive. Let us be peaceful.

Watch your tongue, hold it, keep it clean, and discipline it.

Filter what your say and what you hear.

Clean your ears, not with cotton buds, but with listening filter.

Keep your minds clean and bright.

In relationships with people, engage your mind only on what is true, good and useful about people.

Manage your stakeholders; engage who is responsible or accountable, consult who is experienced, objective and unbiased when necessary and inform only who is to be informed when necessary.

Encourage value and you see your relationships become highly sustainable.

AN APPROACH TO LIFE; LET US WATCH IT!!!