“If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom.” – African proverb
It is well known that crisis situations are often the best catalyst for renewing societies and nations. Within every crisis exists a drive that recharges the creative energies within us when we are faced with greater challenges, as if the solution fairies have suddenly become extremely compassionate toward our plight, and are doling our generous amounts of ideas to help us calm the storm. They taint our thoughts with burning abstracts of concepts, formulae, poems and dreams that we need to blend and experiment to generate that which would work for us.
Finding a way out of any crisis is a delicate and experimental phenomenon. The process is not cast in stone, neither are the results guaranteed, but they offer us an opening to renew ourselves and to recreate our life in an extraordinary way. As the famous Chinese proverb goes: “A crisis is an opportunity riding a dangerous wind”. So, even though we are scratching the ground, we can take consolation in Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher’s words, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”.
Our crisis is a catalyst for innovation, but can we take advantage of it. Sadly, it is business as usual. Instead of being open and embracing unconventional ideas, we are still doing things the same way we are used to. How do we expect to make a breakthrough? How can we rise if we would not take risks? And why are we still listening to the same old ‘experts’ whose suggestions and proffered solutions got us where we are? Our greatest tribulations as well as our smallness, which is our disease, is a result of their intellectual pride – “they knew not, and they knew not that they knew not,” so they “made the most noise, like empty barrels” and we bought into them. It is not surprising most of the anxiety and fear sentiments are coming from them.
It is time to do away with their murmuring, and instead encourage new and diverse voices. It is time to bring together individuals and organisations from diverse fields and backgrounds to share ideas, resources and expertise. We need an ‘all-hands-on-board’ approach, where we pry into the minds of even the least among us. We need each other, for it is people who can be counted upon to solve our crisis. Then, as Abraham Lincoln once said: “We have to bring them the real facts” so that they can come up with the solutions we need; or to paraphrase Charles de Gaulle: “They would look within themselves to find solutions, impose their own stamp of action, take responsibility for it, and make it their own”.
That is why realistically, our crisis should inspire excitement within us. Afterall, it will bring out the geniuses among us and within us if we would be real and logical about it. What better time for us to “make our nation great and strong” like we have been singing and praying about for decades. It is time for us to be excited about emphasising the human element in our development programme. We know that progress is ultimately about improving the lives of people. But for too long, we have pushed aside the needs and perspectives of those whose lives we want to improve. It is time to engage one another to understand ourselves and how we can pool our dreams to generate the one great dream that works for all of us.
We need to get stronger, so we need to make peace with our crisis in order to find a way through it and round it for our benefit. We are all feeling the negative effects, so embracing the crisis will show a much-needed support for our nation and help to create a stronger, more unified nation. Even something as simple as saying “we need new ideas and new ways of doing things” can have a compounding effect on the public and inspire patriotic acts and attitudes. And there is nothing more powerful than a united people who are open about their patriotism.
So wherever we are, let us nurture an atmosphere that encourages people to share the wonderful ideals and ideas they have. Let us help them by providing them, if possible, with resources and other forms of support that would inspire them to take risk and experiment with their suggestions. In the end, whatever good that comes from them will benefit all of us and make us better individuals who are “bold to defend the cause of freedom and of right”.
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 that catapult into their strategic growth and certify their sustainability.
Comments, suggestions and requests for talks and training should be sent to him at [email protected] kobla.com