What is Wrong With These People?

I used to think everyone could draw

It is easy. Just draw what you see. Look at what is in front of you. Let your eyes tell your brain, let your brain tell your hands and let your hands guide the pencil. What could be difficult in that?

Up till I got in architecture school, this inability of people to draw perplexed me. Then I met Motunrayo, and my perplexity entered even more advanced levels. She taught me that there were people, even in architecture, who couldn’t draw to save their lives.

Motunrayo (not real name) and I were partners in a group assignment in year one, where you and your partner sat opposite each other and drew each other’s portrait (just the face). Then you shared your drawing after the exercise and rated each other. When we exchanged drawings, Motunrayo had drawn such a hideous figure, that it took me the better part of 5 minutes to recover from the shock and ensuing episode of ROTFL I experienced.

When I look back now, I could have been kinder.

I remember she felt hurt by my reaction even though she tried to mask it with a nervous smile. The truth probably was that she had done her best at interpreting what she saw… but I hadn’t seen it that way. All I had seen was a person who had failed at what I considered then to be the most fundamental premise of architecture. Yet in this experience, I was the biggest failure. My assumption about what ought to be, had made me fail abysmally at showing the empathy required to make my humanity shine through.

I talk about empathy a lot and it is because it has been the biggest life lesson of my 30s. Its gospel is that we should not interpret another person’s experiences from our point of view. We are not the same. What comes easy to you may not come that easy to others.

And this brings me to the other dimension of Belief.

Just like we take a natural gift for granted and assume others ought to be able to exhibit those gifts as easily as we do, we also take belief for granted. We easily forget that others may have contrary beliefs that they hold equally as strongly as we hold ours. And even though we may know why we want them to change their beliefs to ours, the questions we forget to ask ourselves is, “Why do we feel WE should be the one holding on to our belief, while we expect them to change THEIRS?” I know that at this point, that familiar voice in your head that tells you that you are always right and your beliefs are more superior will respond and say, “But your opinion is the truth, it is the other person that needs to change.” For a minute, I want you to reflect on that statement and hope you discover the errors in its logic

From arguments on social media, to Christians trying to convert Muslims, to spouses trying to change each other, to parents burdening their children with the expectations of their failed childhood and trying to justify their every action as altruistic, our world is peopled to the brim with our kind, always seeking to alter the world around us to look like us.

In my learning I have discovered that assumptions about what the capacity of others ought to be lead us to expectations. And these expectations in turn, leads us to frustration whenever those people are not performing optimally (from our point of view.) Then our frustrations leads us to attempting to ‘help’ them by changing them to our point of view. And in this space, I have discovered a lot of strife. If they are willing, they may attempt to succumb to the pressure we exert. They will try because of us. But many times, at their own detriment, because something is not agreeable with their inner truth. That is not who they are. Even when they are willing and they ‘change’, they may often revert to their normal self — their state of rest, an action that may make us even madder — CAN’T THIS PERSON SEE THAT WE ARE TRYING TO HELP THEM? WHY ARE THEY NOT HELPING THEMSELVES? And here is where ‘Love’ blurs into an insidious strain of evil — one that continues to inflict pain in the name of Love.

If those we seek to change are unwilling, they will react and fight back. They may not be able to put their resistance into words. They may not even understand the undercurrents that make them react the way they do but they will resist us and we will fight them back, wondering why they are not amenable to being ‘helped’ to become a ‘better version’ of themselves. But truth is that we were never trying to make them a better version of themselves all along, we were only trying to make them like us.

Netizens, spouses, siblings, children, colleagues, friends, fellow believers. Let us humble ourselves to the point of realizing that how we see the world doesn’t define the truth on how everyone else should see the world. Neither should it compel us to pressure the world into seeing things our way. If we so desire that we want the world to see things our way, then let us show it. Let us show how our worldview has impacted upon how we live in its most sublime form. That by showing it, others may be won to our side. Not by compulsion, but through conviction.

Because words don’t change the heart, conviction does.

OSUNDOLIRE Ifelanwa

Eternal Student of Life

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