Dearth Of Knowledge Makes People Slump

28 Aug

By Ekerete Umoren

Excellent, but sad, very sad observations. Our society has slowly been lulled into a state it can do less and less of its own thinking but depends on individuals who themselves cannot think to do their thinking for them.

We have also depended more on “what we don’t know cannot hurt us” and so some would even avoid doctors that way “nothing would be found”.

While I am not advocating anyone should try to live forever in this realm, I believe we all do have our bit to contribute before we move on and so there is no sense in hurrying the process of our demise while a lot still remains to be done.

I know some would point to statistics we would die anyway and that is true. Only a child would not have come to that realization by now. Truth is we now know there are a few things like good nutrition, exercise, weight control that significantly affect the statistics and also leave a better quality of life. Beyond these, there is also the fact even some real vicious sicknesses can be controlled or cured if caught early hence the reason to see the doctors.

Beyond these direct dealing with one’s health, what your write-up has also highlighted is the extremely powerful effect of our thinking on everything we do. Even the highly educated among us do fall to very significant destructive modes of thinking and, while we can overcome most things we put our minds to – alas we are fully trapped by our thinking.

Our people, most of them, have come to a full conviction they are in no way responsible for what befalls them in life and so we are always looking for whom to blame. Read the writings on the forums carefully and you would see the fatalistic thread, sometimes almost invisibly, woven through. Naturally, if I am not responsible for my woes, there is really no point in my trying to solve them, is there? I need to go after the one responsible. We are also quite willing to listen endlessly to those who would point at the others who are responsible for our woes.

(So for instance, if corruption is our problem, it is only the faceless government functionary who is responsible, the fact I don’t hesitate to pay the 40 Naira to the so called cop at the illegal checkpoint does not clue me in I am doing exactly what I am condemning, howbeit on a smaller scale and from an opposing standpoint because of my opportunity.)

What I believe this does to our psyche is we have come to believe we can flout any laws man-made or natural and get away by “bribing” our way. Unfortunately, the natural laws, like that of our bodies, do not succumb to the corruption and so we pay in unusual ways.

As for why our parents lived so long and our contemporaries are dropping off at a much more tender age, it is a curious thing I have also observed. When you hear of someone dying back home your mind wanders to what the age of the person would be. You tend to notice they are either really aged, like in their 80’s or they are really young, like in their 40’s and then there is the massive gap, so something is definitely wrong as we should have something akin to a normal distribution or some similarly symmetrical statistical construct.

My speculation ties this phenomenon to some of the things you highlighted. Our parents did a lot of physical activity not having the early luxury of jumping in the car from end to end while growing up. Not so for us and, while this is a good thing, it also carries the bad side. Most of us spend our time in sedentary jobs. If we do not supplement with some decent exercise, we are inviting the grave early.

Another thing that has changed is the diet. Most people, in days of yore ate the lean meat they could catch once in a while. Today we have chicken from the farms, pork from the farms, beef from the north, etc. Too much of this particular thing is definitely not good as we have come to learn. Especially when this massive dietary change occurs in just a generation it is a real shock to our system. The usually terminal, especially the way we manage it in Nigeria, chronic diseases like diabetes enter and take their statistical toll.

Similarly, the sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS, which though somewhat controllable and is highly preventable in other climes, becomes an almost instantaneous death sentence when it shows up on our shores.

Couple all these with the fact our health care delivery is not in the best of state and can place unacceptable burdens on its recipients and the picture begins to paint itself why our life expectancy is not really what it should be.

Add things like the transportation accidents mostly caused by untrained or poorly trained vehicle operators (I can always count several motorcyclists who appear to have billboards around their necks screaming “kill me”, “hit me”, “run into me”, etc. when I am driving in Akwa Ibom) and juxtapose with the lack of trauma medical care and the numbers are depressed even further.

I am sure others can contribute what they believe has added to the premature mortality of our people.

Back to your points – there are simple things we, as a people can do to repurpose the statistics in our favor and no one is going to do it for us.

Ekerete Umoren

Columbia, MD

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