“They all understood the fleeing from war, from the kind of poverty that crushed human souls, but they would not understand the need to escape from the oppressive lethargy of choicelessness” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
“Survival”. A word that aptly describes man’s need to live, to have life, to have breath, to be alive. Man strives fitfully against anything that will take life from them. Situations like war, famine, tornadoes and epidemics are far more life-threatening to man than living a manageable, choiceless, lethargic life.
As Adam Smith rightly said, “the real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations”. Most of the time, we find it easier to make ourselves comfortable in our uncomfortable, stressful, manageable, redundant lives than to take that bold step to work on our dreams. Sometimes, we do not even dare to dream.
This poverty of aspirations is found in old and young, rich and poor. These days, there is a poverty of the mind, a dearth of fulfilled dreams and aspirations reached. There is a laxity, a comfort in always striving before getting food to eat, receiving stipends as salaries, relying on birthright to be given by wealthy parents, leaving talents lying unearthed, leaving grounds lying fallow. It’s sometimes like we are in a limbo with no sense of direction.
I strongly agree with these words of Benjamin Franklin, “I am for doing good to the poor but I differ in opinion about the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor is not making them easy in poverty but leading or driving them out of it”. This fault is found in the poor and the rich alike. A person might be rich in material things but poor in aspirations, in dreams, in desires. The rich also have the fault of making the poor ‘easy’ in their poverty by giving them ‘little help’. The key is in making them utilize their minds, the talents that are lying dormant and giving them the means to use it.
While most people will be content to keep learning the economics of management that have been passed down from previous generations, some will develop and contribute to values that will be instilled in future generations. While some will leave a path in the sands of time, some will also depart without leaving behind as much as a footprint. Which category will you belong to?
The irony is that everyone, the poor and the rich alike, feel like they are stuck in their lives at one time or the other; but to have a choice or not to have a choice is your choice. You have the choice to break out of the oppressive lethargy of your seemingly choiceless situation or sit in it and be comfortable.
How many people know where they are going to? How many have dreams, desires and aspirations? More importantly, how many have made them into reality?
It is important that we do not see ourselves as having no choice or having our choice made for us. Choices abound! We do not need to lead the same dull, lethargic, choiceless, poverty stricken, manageable lives that our parents led. We do not need to have our decisions made for us. We do not need to rely on our parents’ handwork and sweat. We need to Sweat it out, Dream it, Desire it, Aspire for it and Acquire it by ourselves.
Have you broken free from the norms of your society? Your culture? Your family? Have you reached the middle of your charted course and then given yourself a break? Are you still holding on to your childhood dreams? Do you still have aspirations and goals? Do you have a destination in mind? Are you there yet?