BusinessDay
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When change comes

You’ll need to forgive me as I’m one of those annoying people who by nature and by training, seldom likes to willy nilly conform to the accepted norm. I’ve always believed that if one allows one’s mind to operate outside boundaries set by convention, better solutions can be found. Even within my own larger family, I often find that when everybody decides to move in one direction, my initial reaction is usually one of hesitancy. As everyone’s looking to the right, my focus, almost in slow motion, turns to the left. It’s not because I think I’m smarter than everyone else or even any of them for that matter, but because I’ve always been pushed from within me, to seek out an alternate route to arrive at the same place and if I’m lucky, somewhere better. Don’t call me a rebel because that’s something I know I’m not. I just have an inclination to question the norm and to find my own way.

At times, I will still end up at the very same spot everyone else has gone, but within me, I will feel satisfied that I found my own way there. There are times when I’ll arrive at a totally different destination, driven by my own convictions. John Dewey once said that the purpose of education should not be to merely learn what is already known but to develop a mind robust enough not just to question, examine and ultimately challenge convention, but is also dynamic enough to offer a new and better way. Without this, how would we as a race, expect to make any progress?

I was taking a walk with my wife the other day, during this current lockdown period and for what seemed like several minutes, the two of us couldn’t agree on what day of the week it was. You know how it is when one day just blends into another, with no particular activity like going to work, doing school runs or going to church, to differentiate one day from the other. After reluctantly agreeing with her on which day it was, especially when I remembered that I would want to eat when we got back home, something just popped into my head. I turned round to her and said, man made things can always be changed.

Yes, it may cause a disruption for a day or two but people will quickly whip into line and just move on. I said, all the world leaders could wake up on a Wednesday morning and decide that the world has lost far too many days, too many working hours, due to the pandemic induced stay at home, so instead of the next day being a Thursday, as we all expect it to be, it will now be made a Monday, so the world can have a full working week to start catching up. And this change will not completely alter our lives. Certainly not in a way that we won’t be able to recover from. It will not stop the sun from rising or setting when it should. It will not suddenly lead to better or worse service provision by our electricity providers. My daughter who hates anything coconut will continue doing so and my home address will remain the same. What am trying to say? Though it may cause some disruptions; admittedly to some more than others, the heavens will not fall.

It’s quite obvious to me that post the current coronavirus pandemic, life will longer be exactly as we knew it pre the pandemic. Many things will change worldwide. Just as 9/11 changed forever the way we travel and all the various airport protocols, so will this pandemic compel nations to alter many airport protocols, and it won’t end there either. The taking of the Coronavirus vaccination may become a precondition for any country to allow travellers in, just as it may even be required to enter certain places within one’s nation’s borders too. But like we human beings have always done, come what may, we will adapt and just move on. Many businesses, have by now adopted several creative survival strategies. In the process, they might have stumbled on ways in which to do things more efficiently; so much so that even when the lockdown is finally lifted and the road becomes clear, they may not see any sense in returning to the old way. Never has the saying about necessity being the mother of invention sounded truer. For many organisations, online meetings may have come to stay; seeing no added value in always congregating their top management, with the attendant costs and dislocations, before a one-hour meeting can hold. A welcome change would have come to stay.

No, I don’t believe the end of the world has come quite yet. We’ve only been reminded of our mortality, our limitations and the impotency of nations we’ve come to perceive as almost invincible, when faced with something that’s beyond them. We should, if we’re smart, come to the realisation that wisdom is revealed to be manifestly absent when we forget just how little we actually know. Like Pharaoh, will we as a race (human beings) continue to hold tightly to increasingly ungodly principles and values, refusing to let them go, even when faced with a “plague” such as this? Or will we wake up to the fact that our ways need sanitising, more than our hands?

I know it may sound cliché but I won’t allow that to stop me from saying it anyway. No matter how awful something or a situation might appear to be, it nearly always harbours a hidden treasure. Positives do emerge from negatives. Sometimes it requires the right attitude to discern this but many a time, it actually emerges in spite of our attitude. In Nigeria, as well as globally, the lockdown has provided an excellent opportunity for families who until this moment hardly ever spent more than five minutes together, due to heavy work schedules and other daily activities, to bond and spend quality time together.

Family members and even couples are getting to know each all over again. It has given children the opportunity to discover that their parents aren’t irrational beings who like to fly off the handle about every little thing, but are perfectly rational human beings who can’t stand to watch their children make poor choices in life, especially when it appears as if history may be repeating itself. It gives parents too the chance to realise their children are unique individuals who have what it takes to toe their own path successfully. So instead of trying to live your life vicariously through them, use your experiences wisely to guide, correct and most of all, support them. As for me, it has exposed me to ridicule and serious yabis as my children repeatedly beat me in the popular board game, Monopoly. That’s after all the mouth I had before we played the first game! Will I learn not to foolishly brag about such things next time? I doubt it.

Permit me at this point to offer my heartfelt condolences to those who have lost a loved one to this invincible enemy of mankind. May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace.

 

Changing the nation…one mind at a time.

DAPO AKANDE

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