by Eyiamoni Apeji
People are naturally good. The few that are bad: the 10%, the misfits of society, these people move around so often that they give the allusion that they are many. This is a fact. This is a truth that I often forget.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine was the victim of digital theft. His story is a sympathetic one. It was the perfect crime. A lovely mix of deception and naiveté that resulted in the loss of two months of his salary.
For days this was all anyone talked about. I found it fascinating that such a negative story was such an interesting topic of conversation to so many of my friends . Everybody wanted to know what happened and how it happened in the most intricate detail. Everybody wanted to care more than anyone else. To show that their sympathy was superior to anyone else’s. All I could think was, good deeds are never this celebrated, never this interesting. Society has made it such that celebrating the negative is courtsey, and celebrating the positive is prying. Asking about the details of your neighbors’ success is suspicious behavior.
A person who constantly talks about the good, about the positive, lacks modesty, is braggy, or is pretentious.
This is the world we live in.
This is a practice that breeds paranoia.
The paranoia of the traffic plantain seller I encountered who stands by, weighed down by the heavy load on her head. Unable to run towards her customers, and too afraid to leave her wares unattended, for the misfits are quick and thieving.
This is a practice that gives birth to the imaginary thieves that we are taught to fear. That mothers warn their children against in made up stories that scare them into negative thoughts.
This is the origin of suspicious glances at the ATM.
The reason why we do not ask for help when we need it.
This is the practice that has taught us to doubt everyone and everything.
This is the thinking behind ‘What if?. What if I’m robbed, what if I’m cheated. What if these are the misfits.
This is a practice that gives birth to saying like all Nigerians are thieves.
This is a practice that makes us believe this.
And so as I walk through the market streets of Lagos, I wear a smile, because I celebrate the positive. And there is so much positive. So many things to be thankful for, to be grateful for. I project goodness because that is what I expect to receive. And so far that is what I have received. Still I keep a tight arm on my purse because this is what I have been taught. ‘always make sure you can feel your phone in your pocket’ ‘always make sure you can see your wallet at all times’ because the misfits are vigilant they move around, and Lagos is such a terrible place to live.
These are the times that I remind myself. People are naturally good. Bad things and misfortune are peculiar and abnormal. Great things happen every day. They happen so often that we now consider them mundane. This is the most hidden, the most profound of truths and if we realize this, we do not mistrust our neighbors, we do not assume or think the worst of them.
There is power in our thoughts we cannot un-think them. They make up our essence, our personalities, they make us who we are, and what we are. And if what we are is negative, suspicious and judgmental then we are the 10%. Then we are the misfits of Society.
Eyiamoni Apeji is a 19 year old student of Media and Communication in her 3rd year at Pan Atlantic University. She is a creative writer and poet, and was the Editor (and features writer) of her College Magazine (Atlantic Noise) in June 2016. She has an interest in advertising and marketing and has recently completed an internship programme with the Digital Marketing Agency, Sponge Limited.