The Attitude Lounge by Kodwo Brumpon: Our greed is dangerous

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The elephant’s tusks come from its stomach.” – African proverb

The history of our humanity is bloodied with wickedness, often done in the name of good. The deceptions reach all the way back to long before we even started recording history. And it has happened and continues to happen in all the different facets of life – from politics to religion to business, to our individual relationships. We keep on deceiving each other, and these deceptions are so deep they have stifled the spirit of kindness and generosity in most hearts, and the decisions which emanate from them.

It is a wickedness that has polarised the world. It gets scarier when one reflects on the fact that those who do not partake in it are labelled stupid and idyllic. And it is said with such amusement that, if you are not embarrassed, you are forced to re-think your stance. It is perhaps not surprising that many who are disadvantaged by this evil retaliate with a similar attitude, and in the process intensify the existence of evil in our world.

But do we realise how this evil is stealing away the happiness of our humanity? Why would an individual cultivate the tragic perception that his or her needs and wants must be satisfied irrespective of the detrimental effects it will have on all others? That is an attitude of hate for others, and those who have nurtured it should be pitied. As Martin Luther puts it: “Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the centre of our lives”.

The present state of the world is a reminder to us of our evils, perpetuated by our greed, fears and carnality. More and more individuals are retreating into a self-protective cynicism because our social and political realities are spiralling into frenzies of complexity which make it difficult for honest people to work, much less earn a living. How can we progress when we are pushing good hearts into the ground? In the name of “amassing wealth like the ants, conserving it like the bees, or stealing it like hornets,” we have become our own enemies… culturing cynicism as the way to live.

Before we shrug our shoulders and continue along this destructive path, we need to understand that cynicism is the reason why millions of wonderful tiny, embryonic ideas which could have improved our nation and our humanity never saw the light of day. It is the reason our race, our continent and our nation are marking time while others are speeding down the path of progress. Studies have shown that when individuals are cynical they display a pessimistic attitude, wherein they assume all outcomes will be disappointing and hence they do not even need to start anything. Cynicism is stifling our playfulness and innovation, and all of life is losing out to this.

We are all a part of this cynic-culture. Our failures to make time for others, to listen to them, to grant them opportunities, are driving many people – especially the younger generation – into the cynical mode. We are so afraid of being let down we are letting others down. And we are so concerned we may be exploited that we are exploiting others. Maya Angelou, the renowned American poet, while contemplating courage in the face of evil argued that being cynical is “degenerating from knowing nothing to believing nothing”. Interestingly, that is what many of us have become.

Not only is our attitude nurturing a bunch of fearful people and destroying their future, but our own future as well. As Caitlin Moran, the English writer wrote: “The deepest irony about the young being cynical is that they are the ones who need to move and dance and trust the most. They need to cartwheel though a freshly burst galaxy of still-forming but glowing ideas, never scared to say “Yes! Why not?” – or their generation’s culture will be nothing but the blandest, and most aggressive or most defended of old tropes”.

The time has come for us to review our negative attitudes. We must rise above the cruelty, cunningness and greed in our society. We need to ‘un-wash’ our brains and change pessimistic viewpoints. We might be mocked and abused when we show kindness and are generous to others, but we must take a cue from Zadie Smith – who argues that “progress is never (easy or) permanent. It will always be threatened, and so it must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive”. The time has come for good people to re-strategise and re-double their optimism to fight the darkness around us…

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Kodwo Brumpon is a partner at Brumpon & Kobla Ltd., a forward-thinking Pan African management consultancy and social impact firm driven by data analytics, with a focus on understanding the extraordinary potential and needs of organisations and businesses to help them cultivate synergies which catapult them into their strategic growth and certifies their sustainability.

Comments, suggestions and requests for talks and training should be sent to him at [email protected] kobla.com

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