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Tough times should not rob us of humanness

By Cosmas Butunyi | July 22nd 2020

Times are tough. Coronavirus is wreaking havoc. Keep the chin up all the time is quite the struggle, with all this anxiety and uncertainty. Business is struggling. Jobs are being shed. No one knows what is coming next.

Few times has tomorrow ever seemed this uncertain. The situation is further complicated by the fact that everyone across the world is affected. It has even the rich individuals and countries are shaking in their books. It is an equal opportunity kind of situation. There is nowhere else to run to. We are all with the dogs, it is the severity that differs.

It is in times like these that the human instinct for survival shows up. Raw, unhinged and unfettered. It is all about survival for the fittest. Man for himself and woman for herself. No one else matters. Our own interests take precedence on any good day should they be in conflict with anyone else’s. As in that folklore about the lion and gazelle, now than ever before, each one of us wakes up knowing that survival is premised on outrunning the other so as not to starve or be fed on.

Unfortunately, this ruthless rat-race has had the tendency to awaken the animalistic instinct in each one of us. Many no longer care if it is someone else’s toes they are standing on, as long as it confers the slightest advantage. Too bad if it rubs you the wrong way, it is just survival.

However, as we strive to stay alive, it could help to remember that we are all part of one big family that the biologists call Homo Sapiens. This, if not for any other reason, should cause us to give a good turn to others.

More so, in these times of peril and when livelihood is involved. In these times of the pandemic, livelihood has been the greatest casualty as jobs are shed all over. Losing a job is already enough pain. It is even more unsettling in these anxious times when it is widespread, with no indication of when things will ease to free up more opportunities.

Cognisant of this, it should cause us to be a lot more generous with the milk of kindness. If only those charged with handling the process – from deciding if firing is the best option on the table, to nailing who gets to go, delivering the terrible news and managing the severance – had an extra helping of sensitivity.

Such are not the times for marching orders delivered by the almighty higher-ups, dripping with arrogance, as if they have no care in the world. As some wise men once put it, much as you think that you are standing on your feet, take care not to slide and fall.

A story is told of one boss who got to sit in the privileged inner circle of the boss of bosses in this land? When the season of musical chairs checked in, as it is wont to in those circles – moving people around, firing others and bringing in new ones – this boss went all in. Little did he know that the boss of bosses had booked time for him on the chopping board as well. This only became apparent to the boss in the bulletin on radio where such news was broken to the rest of humanity. He had to share humble pie with those he had been riding roughshod on. The moral of the story is that tables can, and often do, turn. The hunter can easily find himself between the knife and fork.

Though, niceness to others is not just expected of the bosses and those who wield power amongst us. All of us need a generous dose of humanness. It is part of being human.

From the take-downs on Facebook and lynch mobs of Twitter, to the snide remarks on WhatsApp groups. Shall we always remember that to whom this is directed is just flesh too, with feelings? They are probably dealing with other issues and what you say may just puncture their ego and send them to feeling terrible about themselves.

Experts say that the pain and suffering brought about by Coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated mental illnesses, such as depression, sometimes leading to suicide. It is estimated that one in ten Kenyans suffer from mental illness. This, therefore, calls for sensitivity in dealing with others to avoid pushing them down this road. We could all do with some kindness.

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