You Just Might Be the Problem

I know that most of us won’t check our emails over the course of the holidays except those who are absolutely obsessed with work (or have a superior breathing down our necks for a deliverable), so I decided to quickly throw in a parting shot…something to think about when we are eating a properly cooked lunch in the relaxed company of friends and loved ones.

To borrow a quote from one of my favourite authors “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..” This powerful statement helped shine light on the fact that whatever our circumstances are, it is our mindset that really matters. Regardless of what may surround you, the greatest determinant of your outcomes is your mind. To veer slightly into the spiritual, that is why the human mind is the main battled field- he who controls the mind, controls the man.

So, what does this really have to do with the conversation about Nigeria I started a while ago? One of my favourite big words I never get to use in daily conversation is ‘zeitgeist’. There are several ways it can be interpreted, but loosely, it means the collective mind (or spirit) of a particular group of people at a particular time. So, this means that there is a collective Nigerian mind…the ‘spirit of naija’ if you will. If you were to answer honestly, how would you define this mind, this spirit? Would you say it was good or bad? Healthy or unhealthy?

Let us bring this point closer to home. We find that more often than not, the whole is at least the sum of its parts. So we can agree that this collective mindset is the aggregation of the mindsets of the individuals that make up this space. Hence the ‘naija’ mind is made up yours, mine and everyone around us. I know this is probably a prickly statement for most of us. We are always lured into the illusion that somehow we are better and because we see that a lot is wrong with the country, our default response is to distance ourselves from the bad.

We may distance ourselves all we want but the truth is that there is no fixing the “Nigerian situation’ without addressing its collective psyche. Since this is an aggregated consciousness, we must further break it down to its components and then begin to address the problems at such a micro level. This, in my opinion, is the only effective and sustainable way to make any progress.

Now to the issue of change. Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of people saying that we have been duped as a people. That the current political administration and it’s supporting cast promised us snow in the desert. Time may very well prove them right. However, what I find to be more pertinent is that we want a change in our nation, without the change in its citizens? Whether leaders or followers? Is it not readily obvious that this is doomed to fail? So to those either supporting or defaming the change mantra, I ask “what about you”? “How have you changed”?

It seems cliché when people say “be the change you want to see” but the reality is that as far as life is concerned, the only thing you really have some measure of control over is yourself. You are only responsible for your own actions. Hence if we really desire a better Nigeria, we need better citizens. Better citizens can only be gotten by having people with better mindsets. It is difficult, but you can start with you and then hopefully influence somebody else.

Are you a part of the problem or the solution.

Have a wonderful holiday.