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The right level (2)

By Debbie Ogunjobi

I HAVE, over the years, made it a policy never to write what I am asked; this time however, I made an exception because I believe some of us need to nudge into the direction of tolerance and respect. You don’t have to like or understand somebody else to show them respect and be tolerant of their values! I have always believed that the sure proof of madness is to be right when the whole world is wrong!

For those who enjoy arguments, I am sure they will bring up the argument of one man who was believed to be an heretic when he thought the earth was round while others thought it was flat. I am not discussing basics of science or earth shaking theories in evolution or even technology, what I am concerned with is the fact that a lot of people are depressed and lonely.

Depressed people are not only a source of concern because we care; they are also a danger to the society at large as they tend to become sociopaths and psychopaths. The two boys who took machine guns and killed fellow students and teachers alike at Columbine High School were depressed, so are a majority of serial killers and murderers.

They don’t fit in and therefore disconnect from the community, they feel no compassion for their fellow man and they hold everyone responsible for their own misery.

We all need to be concerned when we notice some people are becoming disconnected from family/ society. That disconnection kills their conscience and makes them as dangerous as a nuclear bomb! Such people somehow become prey to fundamentalism and are often inculcated into hate cults that lead to mayhem for all of us.

Immediate environment

While I do strongly believe that depression is a disease that should be treated as any other, those who are conscious enough to admit to loneliness should take some responsibility and make more of an effort to get along with the people in their immediate environment. Being aloof and snobbish is not a sign of superiority if anything it is an indication of a severe inferiority complex. No one is better than you and no one is beneath you; every person is a masterpiece of God’s creation; made in his image.

Their wealth or lack of it should have no bearing on the levels of respect they are shown. If you want to be liked, try liking people, if you want to be loved, try loving people and for goodness sake stop gauging affection and watching people’s responses before you decide how to treat others.

Give affection without expecting anything back; if it comes; fantastic, if it doesn’t find your pleasure in the giving; it makes for a happier existence. Most lonely people are ultra sensitive and very moody; that’s why they are lonely. No one wants to be around them and walk on eggshells in every conversation. They find offence in every gesture and their presence causes tension!
While I will counsel the rest of us to make the extra effort to integrate them and go many extra miles to make them feel accepted and welcome, they also have to get the chip of their shoulder and mix freely! You must find the right level to interact and integrate yourself into society, man is a social creature!

The right level is the water level; flexible and compatible to every person and situation. I initially was going to use Fela Anikulapo’s song “Water E no get enemy” to make my point but I discovered the following poem by Gordon Neumann and it also captures my thoughts beautifully.

Be Like Water

Be like water,
elusive to the grasping touch,
persistently gentle
in eroding the unyielding,
flexible in entering
where nothing solid can block
its curious searching,

So mutably soft,
safe from harm
or being destroyed
in simply changing form
and returning again,
overcoming the hard,

Steady drip, drip, drip
of resolute kindness
becoming a large lake of serenity,
a reservoir
where evil cannot enter,

Be like water,
flowing everywhere,
gushing, sometimes shooting,
aerated, slippery, and pure,
containing a message of spiritual reverence
nourishing thirsty souls
with regenerating sustenance,
even in the midst
of world-wide sorrow,

Be like water,
with strength
so like the Tao,
you get it
by relaxing into the river,
and letting go


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