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Generation X (2)

By Debbie Olujobi

The potential of any living being is proportionate to the belief system that it holds! That potential is a dormant force waiting for activation for good or evil. Inside everyone is a saint or a sinner; our core belief system determines the manifestation of that potential.

The harsh reality is that humanity cannot exist in isolation; as a race we have a joint destiny to succeed or to fail; a potential to make our planet heaven or hell. We inhabit a rather small planet called the earth and while it is big enough to support and sustain us; we have dedicated the past couple of decades to plundering it.

The result is an unstable and rather angry planet that seems bent on plundering us right back, through extreme weather and environmental disasters that have become the norm and not the exception that used to be. One of the advantages of studying history both as a degree and a curious individual is the ability to get a grasp of the patterns of change that often occur from generation to generation. In over four decades of life, I have seen changes manifest to fulfil our dual potential for both good and evil.

It is a scientific truth that we are getting taller as a race, each generation is getting taller (in some cases sometimes fatter) than the one before and that is not such a bad thing. Our collectively cavalier attitude to health and nutrition is responsible for most of the new age diseases; we are afterall the microwave generation; we want everything quicker and for less effort.

I dare to say we are probably the most success-driven generation the earth has ever seen; we are desperate to go farther and further than those who lived before us and our consciousness is veering off course. I make no apologies for my ambition and I don’t blame anyone who wants to get ahead; our collective challenge is the competitive nature we are cultivating that is pitting us against one another and the earth! It seems someone must fail for anyone to succeed, or something must be destroyed for something to be discovered!!

A by- product of our ambition is our new quest for isolation; we have become insulated from the society at large. The richer we get; the more isolated and even lonely we become. That isolation is spreading from person to person to community to country.

What we now have is a generation of individualistic and self-centred humans who care only for themselves and their comfort at the expense of community, country and planet; we are Generation X. The ozone layer is not the only thing with a sizeable hole; our collective consciousness in this generation has a bigger hole; we are tragically disjointed and disconnected from one another.

Very many years ago, my grandparents lived in a middle income part of Lagos, Surulere. This was at the peak of the emergence of the middle class in the seventies and early eighties. Surulere was made up of different housing developments and followed a beautiful master-plan that placed emphasis on community and communal integration. It was built with families in mind and the beautiful verandas were built low enough for neighbour to greet neighbour.

Each bungalow/duplex had extensive backyards that afforded the family much-needed space but there were no fences and high gates that blocked the flow of interaction from the front. Raising children was a collective responsibility and I remember the holidays spent there with much fondness. I didn’t fully appreciate the duty I had of sweeping the street to the end of the block every Tuesday but now I understand it meant I had a duty and was connected to my neighbourhood; all the children were involved in communal work.

We were all part of keeping the neighbourhood clean so there was no question of litter. You couldn’t just wash one car, you had to wash the others close by; everyone old enough to be a parent was addressed as mother or father and they had the same authority and responsibility as your own. The fabric of humanity back then was community and social responsibility. That fabric is in tatters and, in a gutter somewhere!


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