The world is hurting and civility is hurting even more. The contention for the soul of humanity is at its peak, as infamously averred by former apartheid President of South Africa, Pieter Botha in 1985: “This uprising will bring out the beast in us.” The truth is that adversity is no excuse for badness. If there is ever a time to take the higher ground, it is now. Anyone caught in any form of incivility is simply being true to self.
If anything, the state of affairs should precipitate the free flow of the milk of human kindness in everyone. The sheer savagery and bloodthirstiness pervading our environment appears to have coloured the conscience of many who have shorn urbanity for bestiality.
Never has the threat to human existence been so profound as in recent times, beginning with nature when two volcanoes conspired to erupt and disrupt lives and activities in Hawaii and Guatemala, followed by the inhuman treatment meted out to migrants in the Mediterranean and the United States, which was capped by the monumental bloodshed in the Middle Belt of Nigeria.
As resentful as the volcano spewing angry molten lava and wasting residents and resources, so also relationships bear the brunt of what has been aptly coined the civil war or break down of civility. It is an angry world, economic disparity with heightened pauperism, gender imbalance, religious intolerance all rolled into one. Taking a new dimension, neutrality has become a luxury, social prejudice is at an all time high. Little wonder history would have non of the pretext at global peace by upstaging traditional world cup giants who were spewed out of the Mundial through record inglorious early exit in the on going Russia 2018 tournament.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, more than 300 million people of all ages are said to be suffering from depression and mental health challenges. Suicide which was rare in this part has become the norm, with a special preference for the rich and famous. Substance abuse has assumed messianic status with many shorn of rationality wallow in delusion to escape the harsh reality of contemporary existence.
The multi-faceted inhumanity has brought to bear a culture of insensitivity, disrespect, savagery and unimaginable cruelty. Self centeredness is masked under a proclivity for evil. It is inconceivable that a bereaved person, rather than the natural empathy, is inundated with the most callous comments. On June 28, 2018, while the Lagos tanker fire raged in ferocity, some people were more preoccupied with filming the horror rather than a spontaneous attempt to save endangered lives.
The implication is that we must be extra careful and sensitive. Mind your language, mind your words, mind the image or impression on display consciously or otherwise as it might infringe on the emotional well being of another. The Red Hen Restaurant on June 22, 2018 succumbed to personal conviction. Not minding the sanctity of customer service, White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, was booted out of the restaurant with her family due to the negative sentiment against unpopular policies of her boss, President Donald Trump, whose immigration policies are perceived as an assault and affront to the bond of family.
The socially smart weighs in on the import of the circumstance and integrates every move to align with the mood of the moment, realizing that in every aspect of human relationship, words, appearance and action are on emotional scrutiny.
Judgmentalism must defer to commiseration guided by a compelling need to show some extra love. The person sitting next to you may be at the tipping point. Let your comportment rub off positively on everyone.
The Business Integrity Initiative walked the talk on June 29, 2018, during the 6th Annual Christopher Kolade Lecture on Business Integrity. It was a very exciting evening and corporate titans had gathered to discuss a rare topic that plays a critical role in business conduct, Integrity. The closing session involved unveiling a new logo with an emblem of a flame atop a pillar. As the flames billowed across the screen, the moderator’s voice boomed on the set, ‘Sincere condolence to all victims of the tanker fire incident in Lagos.” As if on cue some members of the audience reacted as the fireworks began. Thoughtful as it really is, naivety may struggle with the nexus between the image of the new logo to a major mishap which claimed several lives and burned 54 vehicles, but that is the essence of etiquette. Bringing it all together under respect and consideration for others.
Civility may be under attack but you can make the cut for the roll call of honour.