The decline and fall of civil behaviour (II)
In the first part of this article last Friday, I mentioned the impact of information and communication technology (ICT) on our youth and culture generally. While growing up in the 1960s, it was taboo for children to be seen abusing elders in public. These days, boy conductors openly shout obscenities at senior citizens that are old enough to be their parents.
How do we explain this madness? No responsible society should accept this behaviour. Decency and development must go alongside. We cannot have one and lose the other. They are, indeed, coterminous and desirable for sustainable growth and moral health of our civilisation.
Like I mentioned earlier, not everything coming from America is good. That country has a gun culture that is even backed by its Constitution, but that does not make it worthy of emulation because, as we can see from the widespread murders in American churches, schools and cities, it is dangerous to make assault weapons easily available to the masses. Americans have spread their gun culture around the world through the massive exportation of violent movies. Now, Nollywood has joined the fray. Local film producers churn out “action movies” every day, our television screens are now awash with these violent movies. This is what has inspired the bizarre murders we see in our cities today.
Many Asian countries, like China and Japan, have been able to create the environment that enables advanced technology and local traditions to grow in perfect harmony. Why can’t we do the same? As for our youth, I have this much to say: don’t live by other people’s standard. We need to do away with our predilection for anything foreign. Americans are not the best-behaved people in the world. I can say that in New York. The western standard of raising children is alien to our culture; you’d not like your kids to be raised like that. Let’s leave that for another day due to space constraints.
Nigerians should be proud of our culture and traditions, even people from western nations that I interacted with during my trips abroad tell me they wished their children were raised here. In fact, we should be exporting our culture by exhibiting it in a positive way through movies, tourism, books and other forms of social interactions. We should turn the tide and let the world know that there are good things loaded in our culture and traditions, beyond the negative, evil practices of voodoo, crime and corruption that the western media likes to report.
If, like the Asians, we are able to overcome our underdevelopment challenges and transform into a well-cultured, industrial nation, the world will have no choice than to applaud us. Part of the problem we have to deal with is our attitude to work. Our work ethic is appalling; our sense of duty is just too bad.
Many Nigerians don’t know a thing about the dignity of labour. Our youth now look for easy ways to quick money. Wealth without work is a fraud. It is uncivil to expect to reap where you didn’t sow This kind of thinking fits into the theology of some pastors who preach sweat-less prosperity. I don’t subscribe to this cheap doctrine; it is not true. God’s prosperity is predicated on certain principles of the Christian faith.
You may want to know what work ethic has to do with civil behaviour. Poor work ethic is a bad habit. Any bad habit is not civil. You are expected to live and work by well-established norms of civilised behaviour. In those days, service delivery by civil servants who ran public utilities like security, power, water, hospitals, etc, was relatively efficient. Today, our public officers like the police, nurses of public hospitals and others think they are doing you a big favour when you need their services.
Poor customer relations in private-sector outfits like banks, telecommunications and schools is equally astonishing. One would expect that young people who run some of these companies know that free enterprise survives on efficient product and service delivery. Bad behaviour is a social disease that has spread to almost all sectors of our business life, including local markets. In those days, we used to window shop to feed our eyes with good products on display in showrooms, in anticipation of a future purchase. Shop owners appreciated this. However, if you try to visit a market or mini-shopping mall without an immediate desire to buy, you risk being insulted by shop owners. Even in the process of haggling, if you decide to go elsewhere to look for a better bargain, you could be abused. Outbursts of verbal violence are often the consequence of any transaction that fails to result in a purchase. This shouldn’t be so. It wasn’t always like this in the past.
Rudeness is not a positive trait of modern civilisation. We should not associate foolishness or stupidity with political or social correctness. In fact, a civilised man is a man of etiquette. Such a person is polite and proper. When you encounter civilised folks, you immediately perceive that they are cultured, calm, collected and never eager to be assertive or impress anyone. Why? They know their onions, and they are people of substance who need no props.
WEEKEND SPICE: Eyes that look are common. Eyes that see are rare – Oswald Sanders
Folks, see you here again next Friday. Stay motivated.
• Ladi Ayodeji is an Author, Rights
Activist, Pastor and Life Coach. He can be reached on 09059243004 (sms & whatsapp only)