Several years ago when I was still an undergraduate, I boarded a tricycle popularly known as “Keke Napep” in Nigeria. A typical Keke Napep has a single wide seat at the back which can contain only 3 passengers, with a reasonable wide seat at the front meant for drivers who share that seat with another passenger.
On this particular hot Tuesday afternoon, I sat at the entrance of the Keke Napep with two other passengers, one at the front with the driver and one at the back with me. The sun was scorching and we sat down restlessly and uncomfortably, waiting for the last passenger. Luckily for me, he came almost immediately I sat down. He was a large man in his early 40s. When he got to the entrance of the Napep, I adjusted my legs in order to create a space through which he would pass to sit at the middle of me and the other passenger. The man stared at me with cold eyes, refused to enter and commanded me to shift; he wanted my own seat. I politely told him that I was sick and needed to stay beside the door for fresh air. I even went to the extent of explaining that I had vomited twice that day from food poisoning; I was on my way to the hospital.
After a short tensed seconds, the man told me that he was too large to fit in through the narrow opening I gave. So, I got down for him to pass through and I got the biggest shock of my life- the man sat down on my seat! I stared at him, almost crying and at the same time angry and feeling betrayed. Other passengers there didn’t interfere, they sat down watching our exchange. The man obviously cheated me off my seat, but neither the passengers nor the driver could defend what was right.
My second shock came when the man told the driver to leave me behind. He promised to pay for the vacant seat remaining. I watched in silence as the Napep drove away leaving me behind in my sickly condition. I stood weakly with the sun shining angrily over my head for an hour waiting for a vehicle. Then, I fainted. It was a good Samaritan who drove me to the hospital.
Two weeks ago, I interviewed some sets of young graduates looking for jobs. Four out of many came out successful. As a HR specialist, I am in charge of recruitment and. employment. A part of their employment requirements was that the four candidate would tender in a guarantor who would be interviewed by me and must be one of their parents, this was due to the sensitivity of their job functions.
Yesterday, one of the candidates brought in his parent and I got the third biggest shock of my life- it was the large Napep man! He didn’t recognize me. I conducted the interview, have him things to sign and yes, he passed the interview aspect successfully. What was left then was for me to congratulate his son and give him his employment letter. I asked him if he recognized me, he said no, so I had the honour of refreshing his memory. He looked so shocked and started getting defensive. He said that I deserved it, that I wanted him, an adult man, to sit down between two women. He even called me a ‘short rat’ who doesn’t have respect. He was prancing and panting around the office, with mad vengeance in his eyes he told me that I must give his son his employment letter.
While he was doing this, his son was seated on his seat crying profusely like a baby and shouting, “daddy stop all these!”. Initially, I wanted to call the security, tear the employment letter and have them walked off the premises because the mantle was with me and I had the power to do anything then, but I had compassion on the young man. I stood up, handed him his employment letter and left the interview hall. I wouldn’t have felt happy destroying a beautiful fruit just because of an ugly tree.
The concept ‘Me, Myself and I’ singularly means ‘narcissism’. Nothing can be built through this, in fact, it destroys everything, friendship, relationship, business deals, organisation and even a nation.
The world has evolved to a time where no one is anyone’s business. This is showcased in our day to day interactions with people, involvement in societal and political enterprises.
We shouldn’t have a misplaced judgement about selfishness. Selfishness and narcissism are not the same. Putting yourself first is not selfish, constantly thinking about yourself is selfish, but constantly thinking about yourself first with the sole aim of punishing others is narcissism. Selfishness is a continuum egoistical behaviour that when not checked might graduate to ‘narcissism’.
In a country where there is no love and consideration for others, there will never be development. This menace is constantly on a killing spree and it is transforming into wickedness. Unfortunately, what we have today among some of our political leaders is no longer selfishness, but narcissism, extreme love for themselves without regards for others.
Having a ‘Me, Myself and I’ syndrome is also reflected when you have the capacity to speak up, fight for or challenge a course especially when it has to do with other people, but you fail to do so due to lack of empathy. The passengers in the story kept mute, they had the capability of standing up for what was right, but they sat there watching with interest. Love, care and consideration for human life and property should be inculcated and preached in our daily life. A single tree can never make a forest. No man can succeed on his own, we all need to build a selfless relationship with one another.
Unfortunately, a self centered person is sometimes seen as a narcissist. But no, a self centered person just do what he does unconsciously because he is used to getting what he wants and behaving like that while a narcissist do what he does because he has the power to do and he feels he has the right to do it. A narcissist person uses his actions as acts of punishment. Some children were spoilt while growing up that at their adult age they feel everyone should be at their beck and call, they grow up to be selfish. When you call a selfish person’s attention to an action he did, he retraces his steps and listens to you, don’t be surprised that he would try hard not to repeat that same thing in the future. But when you call a narcissistic person’s attention to an action, he would also listen to you, sometimes with anger. That same action you brought his attention to, he will do it again purposely in order to hurt you or to punish you. He never listens in order to change, he listens in order to punish.
Parents should be at alert in correcting the behaviour of their wards. If you notice that they are always whining to get everything they want, if they believe that it is their right to get everything they want and not need, always wanting to be the centre of attention, always asking you to buy everything they see in the hands of other children etc, then prior corrective measures should be taken to make them responsible adults.
Let’s our relationship with our spouses be free from any selfish action that would put them at risks. Let’s always fight for what is right. Obey this revolution call and let our ‘Me, Myself and I’ become ‘You, They and I’.