I guess in every sense of the word it is indeed a new year for me as a blogger. Today marks my fifth year on WordPress. I haven’t been ‘actively’ around in the last 2 – 3 years, life has happened, life is happening and I am sure it will carry on happening for a long while yet. But before I get carried away to the land of reminiscence permit me once more to say, happy new year again!
The last few years have been filled with so many lessons to learn and many more to unlearn. As 2020 arrived, I had only one request on my heart, to have perfect vision. To see the obvious, to decipher the hidden and to lead my heart to better days. January is almost over, there are lessons to be reviewed and thoughts to be weighed.
Lesson one: stop overthinking. When something happens, accept your responsibility in the sequence of event, admit the culpability of others involved. Overthinking: trying to decipher others intent without speaking to them, often this leads to gossip or to wish you could get back at them. Determine: to take the lessons learnt or steps discovered forward. To see people as humans who are either whole, broken, insecure, arrogant or just plain toxic.
Lesson two: accept that confidence and self- confidence are not necessarily the same things. Accept that many people don’t necessarily know the difference between both terms. Acknowledge that most people in today’s world consider the extreme of confidence i.e. arrogance to be the confidence. knowing one’s weakness in an area is not a limitation in all areas. It is self-confidence to know one’s weakness, to accept the implications of this weakness, to decipher if they’re changeable or not. This limitation should not drive you to over-compensate in other areas. Everyone has weaknesses. Simply decide: to put in your best at all times, to continually learn, to grow your strengths and develop your weaknesses were possible. Determine: not to base your sense of worth on your performance in front of others, you’re an individual not a character in a play.
In 2020, Balance is key.
Goal: to always see the woods for the trees.
To know what counts each day, each season and to max out the counts.
Fear not, I am not dying, as interesting (read that as tough) as the year has been, we’ve still got air in our lungs, the mind box is still functional, (at least I think so, we will soon establish that theory at the end of this post). And no this is not a new year resolution post, rather it’s a post to get off my chest something it has been brewing for a while now.
Through the course of the year I have been fortunate/unfortunate to read a lot of social media posts on marriage, relationships and the general emotional upheave that seems bent on denting the ideology that men and women can coexist peacefully under a contractual agreement. I have often been tempted to write an article, or comment in response to these posts. Something along the lines of ‘…..a good man would never treat ….., a good woman would always …..’, and every single time my mind reminds me of how subjective that thought or idea was.
Reading peoples comments often helps me see clearly, other times it enrages me, especially when they make references to bible passages, taking them out of context or simply imposing their thoughts on the scripture. A very good example is the Proverb 31 woman, who from people’s comment I deduce is a docile wife, but formidable business woman. A woman with a firm lid on her emotions in her husbands presence, (no anger, no disappointment, no tiredness, basically no negative emotions when he’s around). People assume her husbands delight in her stems from her ability to walk/work as his clone, someone who avails him of the opportunity to be in two different places at once, without being a UFO.
Others refer to scriptures on the husband that point out his headship, but ignore other blatant truths in the same scripture. An example is the instruction for every leader to serve his followers, placing leaders at the bottom of the ladder. Another one places a demand on husbands, urging them to love their wifes’ in a deeply sacrificial way. However, this post is not about the husband or wife, it is about being a consistently good human.
Every human should aim to be kind, good, peaceful, gentle, joyful, peaceful, tolerant, forbearance, loyal, and above self-controlled. This human can be a husband, wife, business owner, ruler, son, daughter, mother, father, neighbour. A human who places this standards as the minimal bases for human interaction, will be a good ….. (affix your own label). They will exhibit these traits at the very core of their interaction, every other behaviour will be subjective to the prevailing circumstances. And, because they are human, they will fall short sometimes, but they will right themselves again.
What makes you a good husband or wife is not in how expertly you respect (but secretly scorn) your partner, it’s not in how expertly you love (but secretly degrade) your partner. What makes you a good husband or wife, lies is how good you are as a person. How far you would go chasing perfection (refer to the above subjective interpretation of proverbs 31 and the husbands roles) at the expense of the real person wearing that ring you slipped on their fingers. How far would you go chasing your dreams at the expense of the other person who signed up to be your team mate, (meaning no ones dream gets abandoned intentionally or without acknowledgement at the starting whistle) and not just a cheerleader. An ambassador (both spouses should be representatives of the family but still individuals in their own rights) not just a clone.
I remember reading an article on teaching children how to share and play nicely with each other. The writer made an important observation, as adults we rarely feel enthused to share our partners, our cars, our homes, our time. Why do we feel the immense need to teach children to share everything they have? Are we indirectly teaching them to always give in to people because they asked nicely? Because they have held the item way too long? Are indirectly teaching them to say yes to every request, feeling the need to only say No when supported by someone or justified by external factors?
The above line of thought perhaps sounds selfish, however, if you think in terms of long- term, it perhaps might help curb the sense of entitlement growing with every generation.
I want it simply because they have it. If they have, I should also have it.
I need it because it seems to make everyone who has it cool or happy.
Take from the rich and give the poor. etc.
Dignity in labour dwindles, jobs disappear, as popularity contests and get rich schemes flood the world like a tornado. Delayed gratification is now the ghost of eras sailed by and contentment is a rainbow that appears where death almost over-powers life. With every individual fighting to do life their way, it is not uncommon to find someone feeling disenfranchised at each turn.
Today, Idris Alba put up a tweet that has everyone speculating on the possibility of a black James Bond showing up on our screens. For some this is a good reason to celebrate, to do cartwheels, while popping champagne. It would be considered a rectifying of the odds, a balancing of the scales, considered a victory in the same vein as the appearance of a female Dr Who. However, I can’t help feeling sad for the child (a)who has to share every toy to keep the other child(b) happy. I can’t help wondering if child (b) hasn’t short-changed themselves by believing that happiness or fulfilment could only be found in having the exact toy child (a) has.
While I acknowledge and totally commend the strides taken to include a black bond, a female Dr who and a bat-woman, I can’t help wondering if we are winning the battle but losing the war. For the migrant on the street the war is far from over. For the jobseeker at the interview, for whom the scales tip once a minority trait is discovered, these victories matter not. We scream inclusion, but what we really have are ropes tying us up, with our bias and fears at the brink of explosion. We are all coloured, by our preferences, our thoughts, and cultures. Until we accept it and find self-acceptance we will continuously rub each other wrong.
We all need to accept that being human is all (those that look like us and those who don’t) we really have in common. We need to embrace what we have and hold it up proudly without oppressing another. Child (a) needs to learn that sharing isn’t always about handing the toy over to the other child, it might mean going home with child (b) to explore and improve their own toys without self-serving interests. Child (b) must learn to find contentment in themselves, to walk their path boldly with dignity and respect.
We need to co-exist,not clone-exist.
Our eyes tell a different story, so dothe pages of our life,
Of what relevance is history,if today is a retelling of yesterday,
So I was going to do a week by week update, however, I find that some of these lessons rolled along into other weeks. Hence, I will give a summary of all the lessons learned from week 2 – 7,
a. Your principles can be an affront to many: there is a saying back home in Nigeria, “You’re not jollof rice, so stop trying to please everyone“, Jolof rice is a tasty rice meal that serves as a staple meal for all occasions. Adults and children alike love jollof rice, people have been known to take bowls to parties just to steal large servings of the meal away. However as pleasant as the meal is there are still people who do not like it or there are times when it doesn’t appeal to our taste buds. In like manner, we must accept that our lifestyle choices will always confront or challenge others, sometimes without us saying a word.
b. Do not give people the weapon they need to harm you: I often talk to myself when I am stressed or trying to think things through. Somewhere within this seven-week period, I think my mumbling offended an ‘unintended’ eavesdropper. Rather than talk to me about it, the Chinese whispers chain was set up and a wall was laid. Seeing as people pleasing isn’t a skill I aspire to, (I believe it only equips bullies and manipulators with the license to rob you blind) I found myself in the difficult position of trying my best, but still being ridiculed in a very unkind manner. Thus, note to self always ensure you are alone when consulting with yourself.
c. Avoid the need to tell tales: this ranges from sharing your problems with people to divulging seemingly irrelevant details of another person’s life to a third party. They say a problem shared is a problem half solved; I say a problem shared with the wrong person is a problem at the very least half-doubled. For example, I said to someone that I still breastfed my eight-month-old and the advise given was to stop breastfeeding as it might stress my work life.
On the surface, this is a fair and seemingly honest/harmless comment, however, legally I am entitled to certain rights in the workplace as a breastfeeding mother and no provision was made for this. I do not hold this against anyone as I never asked for those changes to be made. And I did not do so as I assumed that a.) I would be able to express enough and the baby would be fine. b.) that seven weeks would fly by quickly. Taking that advice would have meant my lactose intolerant baby would not only be deprived of his mum but would have to go through the stress of adapting to meals and changes before he was ready to.
People will advise you from their own experience. Their fears, triumphs, and disappointment. Be careful not to rewrite your story based on their manuscript, sift the principle and move on.
d.) If you don’t drop the crumbs the birds won’t come: leading on from point C if you don’t divulge anything over time people will get bored and move on with their own lives. If you don’t want their input simply don’t tell them stuff. I find it interesting when people ask for an opinion and then get angry at what’s offered. However, to the individual being asked, try to give advice based on principles not based on what you would do or how you would like it. It might be a lonely and somewhat hectic place to be, but at least you can control what circles your life moves in and the words you speak.
e.) Finally, keep your eyes on the prize at all times: do your best to eliminate every distraction, chose your battles wisely, chose your weapons even more carefully. Above everything else identify your weaknesses and try to get over them. Deal with your personal bias as it helps you forgive others their own.
The MacGregor brides, Sophie’s heart The Hawk and the jewel. As sure as the dawn.
I spent most of my teenage years reading books like those listed above. Pages filled with vibrant descriptions of tall, dark and handsome men causing red hues to rise in the hearts and faces of maidens, mine included. Scenes of majestic horses galloping through bloody fields, guided by strong muscle ribbing arms, arms that will through the pages learn to cradle and caress another tenderly. I also watched a lot of movies, My fair lady, Odyssey, Gone with the wind, North and South, Oscar, Sinbad, and the seven seas, Gladiator, etc. Movies with similar themes to the above novels. Together (the books and the movies) would transport me to eras gone by, to a time when life wasn’t so complicated and courtesy/manners were things to aspire to, not weaknesses. However, they would also carry out a more sublime form of social conditioning.
Good/real men became symbols of salvation (people who put others first), confidence and a certain allure of mystique which enabled them to make sound decisions. Good/strong women, on the other hand, were considered as calm, demure, wily (for positive outcomes), emotionally attuned, strength wasn’t necessarily good or bad. Then we had the atypical individuals who due to nature or nurture did not fit these profiles, but would through the course of the movie/book find themselves and would ultimately align in some way with the above.
Chivalry was a major theme of such stories. I found it endearing, as I believe it showed how humans regardless of era, societal norms and culture, acknowledged the innate human need to be heard by another.
Chivalry (noun): a. Very polite, honest, and kind behavior, especially by men towards women b. The system of behavior followed by knights in the medieval period of history, that put a high value on honor, kindness, and courage. (Cambridge dictionary).
Should we get rid of chivalry? Is the act something to be frowned up? Is chivalry anti-feminism? Is saving women and children first, anti-feminism? Is chivalry against gender equality? I do not know if there is a straightforward answer to these questions. However, I do think the following:
1.Feminism isn’t about the oppressed subduing the oppressor. 2.Feminism is about giving everyone male or female (who wants it) a sit, a corner, an angle on issues that interests and affects them. 3.Feminism is about treating everyone with dignity, kindness and having the courage to stand for what is true, what is right and what is just. 4.Feminism is ensuring that you can be you and I can be me within confines that harm no one, including the individual in question. 5.Feminism isn’t about erasing our differences, creating a unisex environment and blurring every line of divide. 6.Feminism is allowing a man to be as masculine as he desires provided it does not harm another or break the law. It’s allowing a woman to be as feminine as she desires, provided it harms no one or breaks the law.
Eliminating the use of pink or blue for girls and boys respectively, or shop aisles designated for different gender or buying only unisex toys or clothes are in my opinion distractions from the wider debate. Bringing up your children to view human life from conception to old age as sacred, teaching them life skills irrespective of gender, effective communication skills and equipping them with the tools to be resilient and attuned to their emotion is far more valuable.
The following quote is often used to discuss the value of education across the world especially in third world countries: “If you educate a woman, you educate a family, if you educate a girl, you educate the future.” Queen Rania of Jordan. Is the quote true or reflective of reality? Should we discard of this quote? If you answered yes and no respectively to the afore questions, then it is safe to say that women and children should still be saved first in the face of crisis. It is important to remember that those who are physically vulnerable are often prioritized before other groups such as children and women. Equally important is the ability and right of a woman to say, ‘don’t worry about me, let me help out first’. This has been known to happen and until you are in those conditions please do not make statements that can have damaging consequences. Perhaps we could say children and their caregivers first.
The new school of thought that propagates the destruction of all traditional guidelines or beliefs is worrisome. ‘Out with the old and in with the new’, sadly I find the new to often be half-thought arguments, centred on indulgent premises, rather than a holistic approach. (Take a look at Brexit, at Trump and climate change or gun law) I stand to be corrected if my thoughts are ill-founded.
Having said the above, I must admit that there are things which still need to be re-evaluated; including the view of marriage in different gender circles. Women are taught to view it as an achievement, while men view it as an entrapment. Women approach it as a child would a kinder egg surprise, men approach it as a child would a fist pointed in their face from a dark shadow. It is no surprise that both end up having a tumultuous time in the first few years. Marriage is only an achievement if you both acknowledge and respect the time, energy and resources the other has pledged to you. I don’t think we ever deserve people, we earn people. We earn their affections, their respect, their allegiance. Our prices/ values both emotional and economic change as we grow older, for some, it becomes cheaper and for others, it becomes more expensive.
There will always be issues for every human era to tackle. In a bid to effect change we must not turn situational solutions into lifelong rules. In the same manner, we must not be afraid to tackle the status quo. Through it all we shouldn’t be hasty to pledge allegiance, loyalty is still an admirable and faith building trait.