The Many Dangers of Comparison (11)

 The Many Dangers of Comparison (11)

For the first part of this article  which started lasted week, click on this link:

By Okeke Chibueze

Comparison between Nations 

Nigeria once boasted of being the Giant of Africa, a nation with the highest development speed in comparison with other countries in Africa, and this made us stand out in the continent. However, due to some peculiarities in the country, a lot of retrogression has happened that today we are earnestly praying and hoping that we do not slump back into anarchy or military rule. Despite these woes that have befallen us as a nation, there are a number of things for which we should be thankful; things like independence on the government of the day which we had to learn the hard way. Our youths today have come to terms with taking their future in their own hands instead of waiting for the government to dole out goodie bags to them. Today, instead of the false slogan of “get a good degree and get a good job” ore persons are coming to terms with the better slogan of “get a good skill and build a business from it’, thus encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation more than we emphasize on job seeking.

However, most times in comparison to other nations around us, there is this dissatisfaction with the situation of things in the country. While it is good to be unsatisfied with your situation so as to be spurred into greater works, it is important to note that your criteria for judging your situation should not be another man’s situation as this will keep you perpetually unhappy and unsatisfied with yourself. On this note, it is important we re-examine our reason for comparison with other nations in relation to development especially as it is obvious that many factors at play in Nigeria are not in these other countries. While I do not want to hold brief for the corruption that has eaten into every tissue of our country and has thus kept us where we are today, it is important to note that we can deal with these things without having to look unto other countries as yardsticks.

The continued look on other countries has made us play down on our diversifying factors which could have been harnessed into a great strength for us as a nation. For instance, a clearer understanding of our cultural differences will help us appreciate and learn from one another as we build on unity. This will also call for cultural acceptance and accommodation of various ideologies as far as they are not detrimental to that which binds us together. Comparing Nigeria (of 56 years) to a country like America of over 200 years is not in any way fair. These countries have gone through their hard and bad times, and have been able to scale through them to get to where they are today. In another vein, some of the countries we compare ours to are not as multicultural as we are, and this makes such comparison unfair in every respect.

Coming home, we spend a lot of time comparing one tribe to another within the country. For instance, while we hear people commend the Yoruba for their liberal mindset especially in the area of religious tolerance, we still see people condemn them for the same tolerance when it comes to political matters. While the Igbo and Hausa can boast of having a major religion besides the traditional one, it is literally impossible for the Yoruba to boast of same as various religious beliefs find their way through their people, and in most cases, the people are at liberty to choose what they want for themselves. Knowing that religion plays a very vital role in the civilization of a people, it will be very unnecessary when we begin to compare these various tribes with one another in whatever aspect as their effects are always interwoven. Comparison has kept us too engrossed in trying to look outwards to other people and nations around us instead of looking inwards to those things which can help for our immediate growth and development if well harnessed. This results to undue distractions, reducing us to a people full of murmuring and complaints without any form of critical thinking to offer solutions to our problems.

This results to undue distractions, reducing us to a people full of murmuring and complaints without any form of critical thinking to offer solutions to our problems.

Academic Comparison

Gradually the emphasis on academics is waning as the number of non-literate millionaires increase from time to time, and unlearned job creators continue to employ learned and professional persons, thus deciding their daily pay. A lot of unnecessary comparison exist in the academic field and this has continued to cause serious deterioration in our educational sector, among the professionals and the amateurs, among the lecturers and among the students, even among students and staff of various tertiary institutions. We will be considering these in some details as they are evident in many ways.

Comparison Between Academic Performances:

It is important to note that our educational system thus far has not created room for individuals to explore their innate abilities as much as they should or would want to. Most times what we have as academic excellence is the ability to remember what the teacher or lecturer has taught or delivered, and to pour same into the answer sheets provided during examinations, tests or other platforms for testing the knowledge of pupils and students. This forces our children and youths to grow into a system where you are considered brilliant only if the teacher or lecturer says so, otherwise, you are not smart. We have failed to recognize that many students may not be academically inclined or may just need basic knowledge to survive in the society so as to explore their talents and gifts which may not be embedded within the four walls of the academic system. Since there is no formal or official support for vocational and skills development, the emphasis on academic excellence becomes too overbearing on those who has interest in other things. Thus, you see students competing over marks and Grade Points throughout their years in school. Those at the top of the class get praised from time to time, get honoured at events and programs while those who, academically are not doing well, not minding their various skills and other things they are good at which can be harnessed for the good of the society, are left to clap and cheer. To meet up with the expectations of the academic system, the lecturers and especially the parents, the students gradually drop their talents and those things which motivate them, and instead of harnessing them, they join in the bandwagon effect of chasing academic excellence. This is because they would not want to feel inferior or unfit for the society in the end. Upon graduation, the vacuum they should have filled remains as they also join the millions of job seekers in the country instead of creating jobs for themselves and others.

Comparison Between Disciplines/Professions:

Some courses or disciplines have gained more respect over the years such that by mere mention of the names of these courses or disciplines, people tend to have very high expectations of them and those that practice them. This has gradually created a great discrimination amongst students and even professionals of various disciplines, thus making some feel superior to their counterparts. Besides creating this class difference between students of various disciplines, it has also increased the number of prospects who apply for the various courses related to these disciplines. For instance, the number of students eager to find a place in medical, engineering and law schools keep increasing every admission year across the country even when it is clear that there are no jobs available to keep these students engaged w=on their graduation. This has caused the raise in the standard requirements for admission into some of these courses by some tertiary institutions so as to discourage the craze for them. Despite these and other measures, and in spite of many other opportunities available to prospects of various tertiary institutions, admission seekers still prefer to keep searching rather than try out alternative options available to them. This is largely because of the hype we have thus far given to these disciplines, especially terming them “professional courses” without any form of sensitization to the students on what awaits them after school. Thus, everybody wants to study a professional course as though other courses have no future for their students.

 Comparison Between Tertiary Institutions:

This is another area where we keep misinforming students and prospects of various tertiary institutions as well as the general public. While it is true that the various administrations of various institutions do the much they can to make theirs stand out in the comity of institutions, it is also important that we inform those concerned that every institution has what is necessary to grow in every aspect. Also, it is important to inform students and prospects that in most cases, it is the responsibility of the student himself to become what he wants to be, not the hype the institution he attended receives. I feel sad when I hear things like “If you attend a job interview alongside a graduate of ‘A’ university, he is most likely to be considered before you.” Like individual performance is a secondary factor to where the person was trained or bred. I have seen graduates of some highly held tertiary institutions perform woefully on jobs they are given while those who managed to attend technical schools excel in same jobs and rake in more profits for the company.

Another thing to consider is the fact that there are different curriculum guiding different institutions which determines the kind of graduates each one churns out. For instance, monotechnics, polytechnics and technical schools are more practical-based that universities. Same applies to colleges of education which concentrate more on raising teachers than universities. With this, it is very unfair to make a graduate of a college of education feel he is not fit to compete favourably in the society with a graduate of a university. Truth is, various approaches to various aspects of life have their importance, their challenges and their unique areas of interest, and this should be well appreciated such that products of these variations should be allowed to explore their world without undue comparison. The moment we begin to understand that every man has his area of importance no matter how lowly placed they may appear, the better we would do as a society.

Class Comparison:

So many cases of depression can be traced to dissatisfaction with one’s situation and a feeling of inadequacy which come as a result of comparing one’s situation with those of the people around him. A lot of times people give up on themselves not because they are actually helpless but because they think others around are doing better than they. Thus, they wonder why their case is always different, and for the negative reasons too. The society is not helping matters too as most times we tend to glorify and reward those who show off wealth as against those who work hard. Our generation, most times, no longer tries to find out the source of people’s wealth before accepting or associating with them. Our hunger for quick wealth and instant gratification has kept us enslaved by wealth. Thus, our youths strive to make money, not for the right reasons but for lame and shallow reasons like to show off, to compete favourably with others, to deal with a perceived enemy or to prove to someone that they can succeed. And when he finally does, the cycle continues as other youths around catch the fire and continue from where he stopped. Class comparison comes in various forms, and these we will discuss in the following paragraphs.

Fame and Popularity Status:

There were those days when people lived their lives, made impacts and affected the society positively without recourse to who saw them or who praised them. There were days when we were more committed to building lasting legacies, planting trees whose shades we know we will never sit under, yet we did it with all joy and gladness, knowing that we were building a sustainable society for our future generation. Today, the story has changed a lot. Those who make little money spend their time showing off their wealth while it lasts while those who have not made as much spend time trying to meet up. Today, the society no longer judges you by the number of lives you have touched sincerely and positively, but by how much you can show off wealth and affluence. On the other hand, no one cares to ask how you make it as far as you are popular and wealthy. Unfortunately, the social media has not been helpful in this regard as everyone posts only what they want others to see. Nice pictures, filtered emojis, banquets, parties and celebrations, Porsche cars and beautiful mansions, etc. without a hint about “how you got there”. The uninformed are only left to crave for these things without any hint as to what it would take, how long, the challenges and most importantly, the discipline, the patience and the self-development necessary to climb such a ladder.

It is only of recent that people started preaching messages such as “Do not fret over what you see on social media. People don’t post their failures online”. With this message started the sensitization for contentment across the globe especially as the competition for attention was beginning to rise beyond what is necessary. People no longer lived their lives for the joy of living and making impacts; the reason for living was more for the sake of impressing fans and followers who also have not been helpful as they spend time analyzing and arguing over the lives of their celebrity role models. Also nauseating is the rate at which these “stars and celebrities” showcase their “good deeds” on social media for whatever reasons. You see people announcing how they helped street hawkers or petty traders so as to be applauded by their fans and followers. Meanwhile, somewhere in the same country, someone built an estate for a whole community and handed it over to them for free without making any noise about it.

Material Possessions:

Another painful thing around us today is the way people showcase material possessions in the midst of poverty and misery. This has created unnecessary competition among young persons as each person wants to showcase the most expensive cars, luxury vacations and all that stir people into wanting to “make it big in the shortest time possible”. This has continued to encourage wealth without labour, power without responsibility and most dangerously, fame and popularity without dignity. In the past few months, the crave for quick wealth has evolved so fast that it is gradually becoming a norm to have young boys and girls ride around town with cars far beyond what they could afford without some level of illegalities. While some indulge in advanced free fraud, others get into cybercrime and internet fraud, and yet some get diabolical about their quest for wealth and fame. In turn, this has placed some sincere youngsters at a position where they question their stand of moral uprightness and legal means of making money. Those getting into entrepreneurship, beside not getting financial support from government, corporate bodies and individuals, are under severe pressure to try any means that promises quick cash so they can meet up with the kind of life their peers are living. It is so bad around us today that people do not consider themselves successful until they have got material possessions with which they may impress those around them.

Marital/Relationship Status:

With this we will wrap up our consideration of the various areas people compare themselves, thus causing themselves emotional and psychological pains as they seem not to be meeting up with the demands of the society on them. The competition for marital and relationship status upgrade is on both male and female as each is under pressure to have someone by themselves. This has led so many into getting into relationships they are not prepared for or worst still, getting married without being prepared for the marital journey. A lot of “wonderful relationships” showcased online are under serious threats and at the verge of collapse as a result of expectations and counter-expectations. Most of these expectations come from things probably seen as the things that make up the marriages or relationships of other persons and so the crave for them starts, and in a situation where they are not made available due to inability to do so, it becomes a problem, causing dissatisfaction and gradually leading to frustration for either or both partners. Comparison has done a lot of harm to many relationships and till date, a lot of persons going into it are still doing so unprepared, still making the same mistakes others who have gone ahead of them made.

In conclusion, it is important to note that we cannot rule out the fact that there are those who must be seen as models and inspirations as we move towards growth and development in life. We will always have those persons whose successes spur us unto greater things and by whom we want to model our attitudes and career. What this article is trying to kick against, however, is the unfair comparison which is aimed at making the child or youth see himself as not being up to standard and so unfit for the society he has found himself in. there is really no reason to make a man or woman feel inferior or to let anyone make you feel so. When we understand that we are made unique to solve a particular problem which being someone else would have been.

What this article is trying to kick against, however, is the unfair comparison which is aimed at making the child or youth see himself as not being up to standard and so unfit for the society he has found himself in. there is really no reason to make a man or woman feel inferior or to let anyone make you feel so.

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