Imbibing “People First” Principle in Every Action

Imbibing “People First” Principle in Every Action

The viral video that showed where the mother of a student of Queens College, Lagos, was fighting one of the school’s security men has sent out a lot of mixed information as well as brought in different reactions about our school system. The video elicited for different reactions from its viewers. People called one another names and blocked fans from their social media pages because of this video. A lot of people believed the girl deserved this type of punishment (sending out the video), while others stood by her. I, as a person, stood against this form of “punishment”, which is inhumane in every ramification.

I watched this video several times to see other offences committed by this girl and I saw none. The only thing I saw was a teenager trying to grow up fast, just the way they all do. Yes, the mother shouldn’t have overlooked her daughter’s “fake lashes”; but does it warrant sending and plastering the girl’s picture all over the internet and making a mockery of her?

I was more disappointed when I went into Linda Ikeji Blog and read that Ali Baba, a renowned Nigerian comedian, pasted the picture of this 14 year old girl in his Instagram page to “shame” her, obviously hoping to attract attention to himself. What has Nigerians truly gotten into? Do we still have the integrity of protecting our young ones?

While reading through some newsletters on my email today, I stumbled on one that is titled “People First”. It was a personal essay written by a woman who narrated how she tried to instil respect for others into her five-year old son. After reading this essay, I noted that what was wrong with the “Queens College Fight” and its accompanying reactions is that Nigerians have forgotten how to put people first.

Yes, in our place of work, in our businesses, in our interactions and in other forms of dealings with fellow humans, we have forgotten the simple term called “Humanity”. These days, people do things for fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty, power and many others without sitting down to consider its effect on the next person. No one cares for anyone but himself. Even the way we handle our environment tells a lot about us. We are gradually turning into machines. We are becoming slaves to machine. We are becoming slaves to the things we should command to make our lives better. This is the reason a woman was heard in the background of that video saying, “ati snap e … we are going to video her…snap her face … snap her very well … video it …” and a security man held the 14 year old girl’s hand, raised her head so that the ‘cameraman’ can get a clean shot of her face and send it over the internet, and everyone thinks it’s ok.

Well, thanks to these inconsiderate people, who do not think about this girl’s future and the damages they have sent her way, a lot of bloggers are making money off her.

But, that isn’t the main idea behind this post, even though that dastardly act calls for legal action. The main reason for this post is to call on all to consider human dignity in everything they do. The newsletter on putting people first taught me a lot of things, and that is what I’ll like to share here.

  1. Consider the action and not the actor.

What this lady tried to explain here is that we should not see people as bad, but call their actions bad. I once had a boss who easily tells employees that made mistakes, “You are stupid” without thinking of its effect. When people started voicing out their displeasure with his manner of correction, he apologised and said that what he actually meant was that the person did a stupid thing, and not that the person was stupid. Well, he stopped after that.

If we look at why people are corrected or punished, we will see that it is to teach the person the right way of doing things, because what that person did was wrong. People are not corrected because they are bad, but because what they did is bad.

  1. Discipline with empathy.

Part of the reason that “Queens College Fight” video tore the social media into two fighting sides was that people seemed to have easily forgotten, or rather, they pretended to have forgotten what it was like to be a teenager. Facebook pages and groups were on fire because of this ‘pretence’. Secondary school classmates called out those that were ‘crucifying’ the girl and her mother and reminded them of their little escapades while in school as a way of proving to them that what the girl did wasn’t an abomination (at least compared to theirs). I was also surprised to see a lot of women vowing that their teenage daughters do not dare fix lashes even though they are in higher institutions. So I want to ask, whose daughters were these ones carrying lashes up and dan?

Sometimes, we punish people without sitting back to remember that we were once like them. This applies a lot to bosses in offices, and parents at home. For example, some bosses talk down on their subordinates (especially the new ones) and slash their salaries for mistakes they (the bosses) too made when they were rookies.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be made to feel responsible for their actions, or inactions. My point is, when we want to discipline, or caution, we should remember that we too are not perfect. We should bend down and put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and see the world through his eyes. Then, and only then, should we mete out the appropriate form of punishment, if there should be any.

  1. Build, and not destroy.

This is another matter with the “Queens College Fight” that needed immediate redress. No matter the layers of tough skins that young girl has, she has been dented. The teachers that were supposed to mould her have succeeded in deforming her, and have created a demon that will either make her defiant or very timid. Her real personality has been altered.

Sometimes we do this a lot. We have this zeal to “press” people down until they become overly submissive. We also have this problem of forming people into what we want them to be and not what their best selves should be.

As we form people, let us always remember that everyone has his individuality. Let us think of the person and not of us. The person we are moulding shouldn’t be a miniature us, but his own giant – let him be the best he can be. Let us not destroy people thinking we are building them.

Finally, there is something about this video that triggered off another thing – something none of us should overlook. This video has made a case for Hate Speech Bill to be adopted and go into effect. Trust me, this video would have sent the heads of some people to the gallows if the Hate Speech law (as I see it now) has been enforced.

Let’s be mindful of what we send into the internet. Think Humanity; think People.

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