When I was in JSS2 at Federal Government College Okigwe, the Junior Hostel I was stationed in happened to be a bit removed from the other male hostels. So, whenever a senior prefect was coming to rein in dissident students, we had the fair advantage of sighting the prefect first from vantage positions. The first student who did the sighting would scream a warning to the rest of us, that Senior XYZ was coming. What would follow next is the scramble for life with all the junior boys taking to their heels. The funny thing is that most students followed the lead of the first person they saw running, oftentimes without knowing why the person was running. More often than not, this person simply took off upon hearing the warning, without bothering to find out from the person who raised the alarm where the prefect was coming from. When everybody followed this blind escapist, on several occasions, we ended up into the hands of the senior.
Back then, to avoid the disastrous mistake of joining the crowd in running blindly, I’d always ask myself some pertinent questions before I charted my own escape route. Who exactly was coming? Where precisely was he coming from? If I could deduce enough information to these questions, I’d then make clean my personal escape via a route totally different from the path the mass of my fellow student had taken.
Now, what this boring anecdote is trying to convey is questioning the rationale of doing things every other person is doing, without stopping to figure out why that thing is being done and why the methodology in which it’s being done is employed.
Regrettably, we are born into a world cast with age-long traditions, fanatical religions and deeply entrenched status quo. Most people go through their lives living exactly the way of their forebears without stopping by to ask some hard questions. Maybe we do so because we lack the courage to challenge an age long culture, or because we believe it’s safer to hide in the comfort of the crowd. Or perhaps we have unconsciously accustomed ourselves to the rational but irrational logic of safety, which is: If everybody is doing it, then it’s the right thing to do. The brands of people who enjoy the comfort of the crowd and tradition, and have imbibed the culture of maintaining the status quo are the conformists.
Predictably, conformists are the most ruthless, fearful, poorest, unimaginative and undeveloped set of people in the world. They are first class gossips, astute members of the Pull Him Down club, unrepentant backbiters and extremists of no particular order. The world has never been advanced by conformists, though I must give them some credit. They have ensured that the rich keep getting richer, no thanks to their persistent fears and over-underestimation of themselves.
The world is peopled with this lot. Look around you now, you will see one sitting around you. Ok, stop looking too far. Look into the mirror instead; you will see the most unbelievable of them. Come on, don’t for a moment absolve yourself. However, if you are still confident you are not a conformist, then kindly check on the following for a category you may or may not be guilty of.
If you go to church every Sunday, and always feel aggrieved each Sunday you miss church, believing you have sinned against the Creator, disappointed your parents, and become a failing to the members of your community of faith, then my dear, you are a conformist. If you also believe going to church is a ticket to going to heaven, then you are a big-time conformist.
If you shave the hair in your armpits… If you bathe at every beginning of your day… If after doing your laundry, you turn the clothes out before spreading them… If you believe it is odd to wear your natural hair, you are a conformist. If you feel severely guilty anytime you fail to do any of these, you are a chronic conformist.
If you read your books only when you have an exam, or you read your religious textbook only when you are in the temple, you are a conformist. If you have not read more than ten books since you finished school, you are a notorious conformist. If you detest reading or learning, then you are a hopeless brand of conformist, and a danger to the human race.
If you eat rice every Sunday or cook rice whenever you have an occasion… If you refuse to eat anything other than rice on Sunday or on December 25th… If you always reserve your meat for gobbling up at the end of your meal, you are a conformist. If you cannot eat food served without meat and you even see such as an insult to your person, you are not just a conformist, but a threat to peaceful co-existence.
If you always want to have the last word in an argument or you always believe that you always right, you are a narcissistic conformist. If you hate arguments at all and are always fearful to speak your mind and so feel better just nodding along to every popular point of view, you are self-destructive conformist.
If you have an unthinking respect of someone in a position of authority, and you believe hook, line and sinker everything your pastor, parent, teacher, writer, newscaster or any other such person tells you every time, without giving room for doubt, or questioning their position, or examining where their true interest lies, you are a doomed conformist.
If you adorn your ring finger with a wedding band, or feel the need to wear a wedding ring to announce to the world that you are married, you are a conformist. If you believe you must wed inside a church to be properly wedded, you are a colonized conformist and a threat to the advancement of society.
If you are convinced and believe that only members of your denomination, religion or faith are those that are getting it right, and as such have been specially packaged to make heaven, my dear, you are a conformist who is sitting on a very long, wiry broom stick.
If you believe it’s the duty of the government to provide employment for you upon graduation, or seeing as you have gone to school, that automatically makes you qualified to get any job, you are a conformist who needs serious psychological therapy.
Are you of the opinion that you must reside in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, overseas or any other developed metropolis, before you make it in life, then you are a supremacist conformist. If you believe that those who reside in rural areas are backward, you are a third class conformist.
To this end, if you are guilty of any few of the above, then your case is redeemable. If you are guilty of more than five, your case needs urgent expert attention. But if you have come to the sinking realization that you are flawed with all these, then you seriously need Jesus, the greatest rebel, Who defied popular culture, challenged the religious oracles of His time, and made a mess of the status quo.
May GOD open our eyes of understanding.
Written by Tobe Osigwe