Feature Article of Friday, 21 April 2017

Columnist: Kobina Ansah

What buffet taught me about us

Have you attended any wedding or party recently? Well, I have. And… I have made a lot of observations of how we think and how it influences us to do the things we do.

Generally, when people are asked to help themselves, observe how they indeed help themselves at the table.

They will take almost a chunk of everything they can see on the table. As though that may not have been enough, they would still want to come back for more… just to save some for the home.

As to whether another guest at the event may have something to eat or not, they don’t care. Whether they can eat everything on their plate or not, they just don’t give a hoot.

When I observe such characters, it tells me pretty much how we think as a people and even more interestingly, why we still are where we are now. It simply tells us that we don’t think about others. We are selfishly comfortable with what only we can have. Others can go to hell!

If we had done things with the next person in mind, trust me, things would have far advanced in this country. If each of us did what they did because they had the next generation on their minds, we would have been more responsible in every sphere of our lives.

We visit the washroom and leave the place in a mess? we don’t give a hoot about who comes next. We get the opportunity to work in government institutions and we mismanage everything because it’s not our property after all? we don’t think about the next generation.

It has always been about us and how we only will benefit now. It has always been about our selfish interests even if it may cost the entire nation. You see, you shoot yourself in the foot when you think about only you today. Irony is, your children may come after you tomorrow to bear the consequences.

Your children may be rendered jobless tomorrow because you helped collapse your institution today. Like forcing all the food at the buffet on only your plate, your children may only come to meet wasted food and empty food basins. If you have the opportunity to serve yourself, serve with the person behind you in mind.

If you have the opportunity to serve in any capacity, serve with the next generation in mind. If you have the chance to use any facility or property, use it with the next user in mind. That’s how life is supposed to be. We can only secure the future of tomorrow’s generation by how we think today.

If it’s only about us today, there’ll be no future to live in. We only exist when we don’t think about those who will live in this nation tomorrow. And remember… if our forefathers were as selfish as we want to be, there would have been no today for us to enjoy. Galamsey on my mind!

Life today can only be well lived when we do so with tomorrow in mind. We must leave this nation better than we came to meet it, if not same, at least. We can’t mar it because of our short lasting, selfish interests!

We must treat other people’s properties like ours. We must do other people’s jobs like we would have done if they were ours. We must regard every opportunity given us with other people in mind so they can enjoy those same opportunities someday, too.

You see, how you treat your own properties tells their worth. How you treat other people’s properties tells your character’s worth. If you really want to know someone’s character, look at how they treat other people’s wealth. Observe how they manage other people’s facilities and properties.

I recently had to go fix a car with a mechanic. When I got there, he was on his phone in this AMG V8 with the A/C roaring on. As I waited for another mechanic with a specialty in my car to arrive, this other mechanic was on his phone in his V8; close to an hour! I sighed, “This mechanic is so humble. He even drives a luxurious V8 and doesn’t show it off!”

Guess what. The shocker came. When I was about leaving the shop after about two (2) hours later, the owner of the V8 came. I heaved!

Treat other people’s property as you would have others treat yours. Treat them as you would if they were really yours. Don’t waste them because they don’t belong to you after all. Don’t mismanage them. Our attitude towards what doesn’t belong to us tells a lot about us.

The nations we admire run on the wheels of selflessness. In everything they do, they think about who will be using the same facility next. Selfishness is always shortsightedness. All you can see is only you. Everything is about only you.

Until a nation runs on an “us” mentality instead of a “me”, it may soon crumble down. Everyone will be in a rush for his portion. This nation is not a Christmas gift!

If something won’t benefit us, it is not worth doing. If it lies only in your selfish interest, it is not in the nation’s interest. If you think about others, you think about the nation. Patriotism is not about the flag of Ghana we hoist in our homes but… the values of Ghana that dwell in our hearts. If it’s not for our benefit, it’s definitely not for your benefit.

Next time you have the opportunity to serve yourself at a buffet, kindly do so with others in the queue at heart. All the troubles we have as a people began with selfishness. If you can control it at the table, you might possibly control it everywhere.

The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), an Accra-based writing company. Get interactive with him on his Facebook page, Kobina Ansah.