View From Arada | Oct 31,2020
Apr 16 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew
There are reasons I keep my eyes on our flaws as a society. For one thing, there are easy to spot. It is also the case that if we can identify and bring a problem to light, it could get enough attention, which is halfway to addressing it. Although this is not always that easy, especially for problems that require a mindset change, there could be a solution waiting to be exploited.
It is funny how long it took me to realise some of the things I considered to be backward are not that regressive. Take, for instance, eating or dining together. Growing up, my family used to eat dinner together as a family on one big plate. At some point, it became a plate for each person, which I thought was better. But with the freedom of enjoying a meal on my own plate came missing dinner – not everybody ate at the same time, and some days, a family member was missing mainly due to work. Now, I realise that it was an important communal experience thrown out in the name of modernisation.
We usually put our noses in someone else’s business because we mean good, or that is what I believed. Other times, it is because we think we know better. But recently, we have been ignoring our communal history and been focused on our individualism. Before, whenever there was a fight in the streets, people gathered around trying to investigate the problem and help out if possible. Of course, the majority stood and did nothing but at least cared enough to pause and ask what was happening.
I had mixed feelings about those kinds of people because I had never engaged similarly. I tried my best to mind my own business but in situations where someone was hurt, I sympathised and tried to help. On occasions, I have stuck my nose in other people’s business with the intention of helping out but I came out on the other side regretting it. I even said to myself it would have been better had they dealt with the issue themselves because I get angry for caring enough to interfere but then people twist my intention and take it for something else.
Recently though, I had a change of heart because we no longer have that tradition of checking in on one another. As our lives get busier, we barely have time for our family, let alone those outside our immediate circles. The youth, especially, are focused on their own existential crisis. I used to think that was a blessing. I am not sure if I still do. What’s going to happen five to ten years from now is that fewer people will be able to help strangers in danger. The majority of us will not be able to do anything about it because it would not be our problem. We only give attention to those close to us and remain blind to the rest of society. Unless it happens to us directly, then we will not be bothered.
Perhaps that is why people are getting robbed in broad daylight. The other day, when I was in a taxi, I witnessed two people on a motorbike. Sitting at the back of the bike, one of them snatched the phone of a man who was standing by the road; it happened so fast the man did not know how to react. He thought of running after the bike but it was speeding. There was no point.
Passersby stood there in shock, and after a while, everyone went on with their business, perhaps clutching their own phones tighter. It seems that, not that long ago, people would have gathered around the victim, asked questions and maybe shared their own experiences. There may even be some attempts to catch up with the thieves. It might have been annoying when people were in everybody’s business but it cannot be said that it did not have its perks.
PUBLISHED ON Apr 16,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1146]
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