A village somewhere in the interior of Ghana started losing its young men to nearby towns and the city for no reasons the village elders knew of. The trend went on for a while before it became evidently clear that if the elders of the village did not do something about it, the village in the next 10 years would have no young men left.
The chief called his elders to the palace and deliberated on the possible causes of this male emigration. The unanimous conclusion was on the lack of electricity, the presence of which could have led to some forms of sustainable employment through the establishment of small scale industries.
The chief quickly relayed the information to the District Chief Executive and the MP who with haste lobbied for electricity to be brought to village from the nearby town. Within a year the powerful DCE and MP had forced the authorities to start some cottage industries in the village.
Guess what, it did not work. The young men kept on leaving the village. In frustration the chief called one of the respectable young men and asked if there was any specific problem which was pushing the men away, since what he thought was the problem, had been fixed.
The young man smiled and explained that they were leaving because the village did not have a Brass Band!
The chief thought that was the most ridiculous reason he had ever heard. What?
The young man explained further.
The next village apparently had a brass band with crack instrumentalists, who from Friday evening to Sunday evening, every weekend, organized jam that attracted ladies from all the nearby villages including this particular village.
After a while, the young men realised that the ladies from their village had started having boyfriends in the village with the Brass Band which consequently made it difficult for them to propose to or date them.
Beyond that, these young men knew that the men in the village with the brass band were sleeping with some of the ladies from their village. These were their girlfriends…their sisters… their mothers… their wives in some cases… It was too much for them to handle; it was too humiliating. To them, the only way out of it was to leave for the city or nearby towns.
The DCE, the MP, the chief and his elders could not believe their ears. But that was a truth being told to their faces; as ridiculous a reason as it may seem.
I heard this story when I was in my 2nd year as an undergrad and from that time I have discovered its wide application to different facets of our lives.
We live in a time and age where people are highly opinionated. Some of these so-called ‘the highly opinionated’ people are highly educated, some are uneducated and some are ‘hearing—from-people-without-verifying-for-themselves’ educated. And all they aspire to do is to sell their opinions.
Sadly enough they assume they know everything; whether by first-hand experience, hearsay, by accurate-assumption or biased-presumption and therefore are quick to opine on issues.
Life, however, always gives us a lot of feedback to the end that we should not be quick to act on or speak to issues we do not understand from the insider-perspective of the issues themselves.
People are naturally subjective. The one perceiving an experience perceives it in the light of their own belief systems, fears, hopes, expectations, and other personal prejudices. Is the glass half full or half empty? What the pessimist will say will definitely differ from what the optimist will say.
Experiences that are also being perceived have a way of lying to us until we actually confront them and understand them from inside out. Why is she a prostitute? Society will unanimously mention economic factors. To the prostitute, and to the shock of society, it may be that she enjoys being a prostitute for the singular reason that she had a huge sexual drive. Call her a nymphomaniac. She is thinking, ‘why must I give it out for free when I can make a living out of it?’ But I bet that might not come up as one of the top five reasons the ordinary person might advance when trying to establish the causes of prostitution.
Do not assume you know something if you have not learnt it in a way which is from the inside out of the thing; from the horse’s own mouth. Life is deeper than its surface might make us believe and the experiences and interpretations therein might simply be too expansive to attempt.
Families are failing because Husbands think they know what their wives and children want. They have a preconception of what a good family should look like; what children of such families must look like; privileges and responsibilities, associations and social behaviours. Wives have similar mindsets and act them out without a pause and a question. Children assume, by virtue of their parents socio-economic standings, certain privileges must be accorded them and certain access granted.
In the end no one actually asks those who are directly the recipients of such opinions and actions and impressions what they have to say about all that.
We have all been to the point where we realized that what is most needed are not the big things but the little little things that speak of thoughtfulness, concern and intimate knowledge. Who wants to cry every night and drive a Mercedes in the daytime? For a while it may be ok; but ultimately they would prefer a good night sleep to driving a Mercedes; a machine they can easily be crashed due to sleep deprivation.
Management assume they understand staff and know them better than the staff themselves. Staff assume they know what management expect. In the end everyone quietly sit in their little corner busily working and working amiss like busy little bees busily getting busy yet not knowing they are busy for nothing. In the final analysis, tensions mount up pitting Management who thought they were doing their best for their employees against the employees who sees management as leeches who insatiable thirst is dragging them to their death.
This might, to an extent, help explain why the wife of that big man who gets everything from her husband might still ends up sleeping with someone else. That can help explain why the most forceful woman, killing herself for her husband and for her family might get the man cheating (other factors may contributing to infidelity though) You are trying so hard; but have you wondered that you could be trying amiss?
Ever wondered why rebels are rife in our homes? And it’s amazing when children from good homes tell you what inflames the passion for rebellion in them.
Everyone assumes they know what someone wants; only few people will go out of their way to ask people what they want.
If husbands would just ask their wives, what would make them happy and attempt to do it for them. If wives will only ask their husbands what will make them happy and attempt to do it; Only if Parents would have personal relationships with their children akin to that of regular friendship, so that both parties are clear what the other’s expectations are. This would help all make more informed decisions regarding the other’s needs and expectations (that is if we are willing to)
Life should not be complicated and people must not act out their minds when others are involved. Open up to people on what you expect of them or what you intend to do for them. Let them expressly tell you what they think about what you expect of them or what you intend to do for them. Simple and uncomplicated.
When was the last time you asked someone very dear to you what makes them happy?
It is a question we either don’t ask or we ask in moment of passion, that we end up not getting the honest answer we desire. Maybe we ask general questions which then elicit general responses.
What is your view on getting a house before a car?
What is your view on going to GSTS for your high school education?
What is your impression of a good husband?
I am planning on buying a Mercedes Benz to be registered in your name (as a gift in essence) to augment the other car, what do you think about it?
Simple clear cut probes.
Someone said, ‘but then that kills the joy and the excitement of seeing someone who is truly appreciative of a gift.’ Ok what if you do not see that after giving the gift out? What if the person needed money to start a new business instead of a $6,000.00 wrist watch? What if the person was also thinking of something modest? What if the person is getting promoted soon and a car is part of the package?
We waste a lot of scarce resources on self-pleasing ventures when we have other people in mind, instead of pleasing those people involved, or making their lots better.
So the next time you are thinking of doing anything for someone, make sure you either understand them in a way that is personal and intimate so you can get it right, or just ask them for their opinion on it, or tell them what you are planning to do. In the end, it is for these people you are acting, not for yourself.
No matter how honest and people-focused your actions maybe, without a clear knowledge of what they expressly need or what their most pressing needs are, you risk giving your best to something or someone and realise that the utility and the impact thereof is very little.