“How pitiful is an intelligence used only to make excuses to quieten the conscience”- Ignazio Silone, Bread and Wine, 1936
I have been blessed to encounter so many people in 2016 that have changed my perspective on almost everything. People with backgrounds so dark and filled with gross desolation – the kind that makes you thank God for all the mercy He has bestowed upon you. This reminds me of all those crime investigative dramas and documentaries I love so much. Every time the villain’s behavior is analyzed, a tech savvy, ivy league graduate with excellent diction brings forth to light their troubled background, which the guys from the Behavioural Analysis department will rely on to create an entire profile: mother was an alcoholic, father beat everybody up, elder brother was an addict, grandfather was a beater, great grandmother was a bitter gambler, he/she was in 28 foster homes etc. The perp is a “broken” individual and the viewers infer that they beat people to a pulp because of their background.
With time, we have come to blame character on external stimuli and passing this blame on to someone or something else has made us less accountable for our actions. We do not realise that we are just handing over our power to someone/something else. There is scientific evidence to show some correlation between the two events that I cannot discredit it, but that is why we are human beings – we must learn to think through things intelligently.
I have met about 5 people in a space of a month who became orphans very early in life. They are now grown up and are doing well for themselves. Their journey has not been a walk in the park. If anything, breathing till date has been their biggest achievement. Not the promotions or the accolades or the wealth they have amassed over time. They’ve been through tough times but they have not made any excuses. Their predicaments did not define them. Even with the absence of mentors or someone to give guidance, they chose to smile and be better everyday.
A conscious effort to do and be better.
We must stop this business of letting our circumstances define us. It’s easier said than done, yes, but let’s not be lazy and complacent. I read through the Forbes Africa “30 under 30” list of 2016 yesterday and most of the stories had an element of misfortune. And now Forbes has listed these individuals as the most promising African entrepreneurs to look out for. Did they back down and let their misfortune discourage them? Absolutely not.
So what’s stopping you from being the best version of you? Maybe it’s that long list of excuses you’ve drafted to ignore responsibility and any kind of obligation on your end? That’s for all of us to think about.
Having an honest conversation with yourself regularly can bring some of the answers to your next course of action whenever you feel stuck. Listening to Oprah recently pass on some wisdom gave me that. I think we need to get to a point where we can calm down and just breathe and ask ourselves what we need to do next in a situation. I keep reminding my friends not to get flustered over things because that’s not going to be the situation for eternity. It’s happened – so what next? Let’s stop hiding from the things that destroy us little by little and aggressively fight them with solutions we come up with when we are calm and still.
It’s a beautiful day to fight that excuse that’s keeping you from taking on the world and making it a better place.
Remember, every little step counts.