Every generation is faced with its peculiar problem. This problem might not be entirely unique to that generation, however, it requires a certain kind of fierce urgency to obliterate it and make it a no-problem for the incoming generation. When a generational problem spirals and lingers into another generation, the tendency of it becoming an entrenched culture is high. Little wonder the Igbo people have an adage that underscores the attendant danger of an unsolved problem: “Aru gba aho, obulu omenala.” (When a taboo is left unchecked, it becomes a tradition).
One generational problem which I believe we are presently saddled with is – the burden of expectation. One is not fully counted as a made-person save he pays for all the bottles on the table, buys a car after one or two years of National Youth Service, drops some monetary gratification whenever he comes in contact with an elderly person, sprays money when he or she goes for an occasion, tips a waiter, a security personnel, and even more embarrassingly, your cleric and your academic teacher.
To say that the culture of expectation is new will be a baseless lie. From time immemorial, man – I believe – has constantly looked up or depended on a more predisposed fellow to come to his aid. Parents have always expected some kind of financial and material benefit from their wards and children, shepherds have always secretly desired a kind of kickback from their flock, and in-laws have looked forward to a kind of material freebies from the family of their sons or daughters in-law.
However, when the genesis of every problem starts as a normal situation veers into the extreme/abnormal, then a normal culture of expectation becomes a cancerous burden which needs an urgent surgical operation. At the risk of over generalizing, I think that most of the problem faced by all and sundry in society is traceable to expectation. When this culture of expectation is not checked, it grows branches and begets several societal vices and behavioural lapses.
For example, many Nigerians or other nationals in the diaspora are stranded outside their homes because they fear that returning home would mean they’d have to meet up with the expectations of the people at home. Several politicians are busy out-stealing themselves so they can measure up in the eyes of the people who have come to see them as benefactors. Churches are employing all manner of schemes to woo members to increase their numerical strength, since what is expected of a successful church or faith is the leviathan strength of her faithful. Young people are involved in all manner of dubitable practices so they can fit into whatever definition that is current. Many are in the madness of making money all to prove themselves in the eyes of their parents, peers and society.
Like I stated earlier, the culture of expectation is not new; when it is normal, it is not bad and as such, need not be uprooted. But when it becomes extreme as it is presently in our society, then there is need for urgent clinical operation. We are presently in a society in which we are all burdened with expectations that we are not supposed to be burdened with in the first place. We now live in a time when if these expectations are not met, one bears the risk of being an endangered species. We are in a society where one is psychologically traumatized daily, emotionally depressed and physically victimized because one falls short of certain expectations.
Methinks that for our society to regain a certain amount of sanity, there are some certain laws that need to be introduced in order to clip some of these debilitating expectations. For example, tipping in the workplace (government offices, private businesses) should be abolished, payment of any kind before getting married should be stopped or totally minimized, spraying of money at occasions should cease, funeral ceremonies should be a solemn affair, save for people who have seen their great grandchildren before their deaths or perhaps have reached the ripe age of 80. Also, there ought to be a censoring or outright ban of music videos, songs, and films that promote illicit wealth and extravagant lifestyles of questionable rich people.
Beside these laws, religious and academic teachers should constantly teach the importance of moderation and the value of contentment. It is a no-brainer that ostentatious display of wealth is one of the anathemas of our present society. And there is no vice that breeds vicious competition, strife and jealousy in the hearts of men than one rubbing in his wealth. The teaching of contentment and moderation needs to be elevated above every other discipline and should constitute topics both in schools and religious gatherings.
It is evident that all the madness in the world presently, all the wickedness around us, all the daily stress and hustle in the name of work, all the condescension and Nkali syndrome around us is a pointer to the fact that humanity is yet to grasp the virtue of moderation and contentment.
To this end, the burden of societal, family, political, economic, religious, tribal, national and continental expectation will remain fever high till we learn, imbibe and practice moderation and contentment. Is it not time we pruned our expectations?
May GOD open our minds of understanding
Written by Tobe Osigwe