Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Deceit of Norms

Breathing is normal and so is eating and sleeping. Everyone must grow up and transit from a duty-free child to be a responsible adult. We may marry and have children. We must work and earn a living, regardless of whether it’s a corporate job or personal business venture. We must look out for our best interests and of those we love…these are normal!

In the Nigerian context, some generations ago, it was normal for kids to eat sand. All children, regardless of gender, played with tires, simulating a moving vehicle. It is normal for kids to talk back to elder nowadays or at best, demand an explanation for instructions given. It is normal to swerve out and drive off on a one-way lane if the traffic is heavy on the rightful lane. It is normal to accept money after freely rendering help. Incentives must be offered before corporate organizations carry out their social responsibility. Where I have influence, a person should receive instant employment simply by virtue of being related. Even though I studied for my exams, I can at least ask my friend for the answer to one objective question I’m not sure of…these have become normal.

We grew up to know and accept the actions, principles and norms that go on around us. The occurrences being established in our subconscious inadvertently become the standard by which all similar occurrences are measured and/or certified. Sometime, we get more exposure and realize the folly of our gauge factors and then we make amends where necessary. We, the ones who collectively make up the society, eventually pressure all those around us to succumb to the power and pressure of unspoken and implicit standards.

When inevitable excess step in, we call for moderation and balance based on these principles, based on our uniquely enforced but clearly unstated and undocumented rules. We mount pressure to eventually retract the right reactions from excessive personalities and in time, they submit and reshape to societal dictates and principles. These implicit codes and principles over time and generations usurp more and become as invincible as the even the law. These become ancient rules passed down by fore-fathers, therefore becoming unquestionable and unchallenged, thus gaining increasing potency.

You may be wondering where this is going. Well, let’s explore series of questions that are bound to jerk your thinking neurons. Why do we constantly accept certain things where we ought to question their origin? Who exactly determines what is moderate and on what measured basis is moderation itself determined? What validates the perspective and presumptions of the society? Does the non-acceptance of my actions necessarily mean it is wrong? What empowers societal pressure? What is right?

Before I began this write-up, I had series of answers to give and solutions to proffer; I even had an altogether different perspective to teach on this matter with the sole aim of disabusing and reorienting your minds. Now that I have written all this down on paper, I wonder whether I had a full grasp of the depth of the issue before I started writing. Nonetheless, I will go on and share these:
That something "seems" right does not mean it is necessarily right. Convictions does not equal validation

Every rule, law, principle, code of conduct that is operational in life, whether legal or implicit, has a reason that instructs its existence. Whenever such reasons seem unclear or are unknown, it is only fitting that research be made. Long story short, question all things!

A multitude does not equal validation, though they may equal acceptance, therefore learn what is right, what is proper and not merely what is acceptable.

Societal prescriptions and pressures per time, does not mean that everyone’s life must follow the same order. We are all unique and are created for different purposes, so while some accomplishments are basic in life, we aren’t all programmed to achieve them within the same space of time.

These are key points that are to instruct our lives and reorient the fundamental principles and implicit rules we accept as normal. Instead of accepting unexplained and unproven ideologies, let knowledge and research instruct your day-to-day choices and life overall.