Saving our youths from societal pressure

LAST week, news broke of a young female banker who committed suicide by drinking Sniper, an insecticide, inside her office restroom.

From a published suicide note she was said to have left behind, we could feel her agony, her despair, the depression and the pressure she suffered.

“Nothing is working in my life. My figures are low. My brain is clogged up. The economy is getting harder. My decisions are wrong. My mind is messed up. The future doesn’t seem bright at all. I see extreme hardship. I can’t bear the pain anymore,” the suicide note read, according to reports.

Although suicide is not an option, the young banker was just one out of several other Nigerian youths who took their own lives as a result of the enormous pressures our society piles on young people.

We expect our children to be the best performing students in school, win all kinds of awards, become superstars in sports, music, etc. And in this era of internet fraud and money rituals, there are stories of parents who encouraged their children to toe those inglorious paths in their quests for instant wealth.

In January 2022, the media published the story of 32-year-old Afeez Olalere, who, following his arrest by the Lagos State Police Command, confessed that his mother not only encouraged him to kill his younger brother for money ritual, but also took him to a herbalist who told him that he “must sacrifice one life which must be a sibling” if he wanted “to be successful in yahoo business.”

Competition has become one of the blights of civilisation. As Pyotr Kropotkin, the Russian anarchist, puts it: “Competition is the law of the jungle, but cooperation is the law of civilisation.” Today, our spaces are inundated with music competition, dancing competition, essay competition, reading competition, sports competition, etc. The spirit of competition has stealthily taken over our world and made it look like a battlefield.

Competitions may have driven humans beings to achieve extraordinary things – good for us. But we must also agree that competitions have triggered our base instincts and made us restless and high-strung. It has crippled, suppressed and stifled a lot of people’s creativity, especially people of moderate talents.

Unfortunately, in most competitions, only one, two or three persons will win the prizes. It does not mean that many others who competed are not good, but that is the feeling of many of our youths. Some of them try to compensate their perceived societal rejection with committing one crime or the other based on the warped philosophy that it is better to hear bad about them than nothing.

But nature, in its wisdom, made the sky wide enough for all birds to fly – for both the eagle and for the hummingbird. The shining of one star does not stop another from shining, even though the light of one may not be as bright as the other.

There is therefore a need for all of us – parents, schools, churches, private organisations and governments – to begin to de-escalate these tensions occasioned by the spirit of unhealthy competition. Let us allow people to be themselves.

Source: Vanguard

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