Reflecting on how inconsistent people can be and why you should never seek adulation from people
I was thinking recently about how unreliable some people can be.
You know those people who say one thing but do something else? or those who appear to be friendly and on your side and then they go right behind you and stab you in the back? Yes those people, I just hope we are not “those people”.
Anyway, as I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that the Easter story somewhat typifies this quite well.
Easter is an annual celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We see how Jesus was celebrated as he made his way to Jerusalem to observe the Passover, the people shouting “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. Many were there because they had heard of the miracles he performed, even raising a man from the dead. They probably also needed a few miracles in their lives anyway so why not celebrate this superstar as he arrives in the city? Maybe he could look their way and give them their miracle?
Fast forward to later that week, Jesus observed the Passover feast with his disciples after which he proceeded, also with his disciples, to pray at the garden of Gethsemane where he was arrested. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, had betrayed him. The other disciples ran away, and Peter, one of his closest disciples, also denied knowing him three times when asked much later after the arrest.
Some of the people who welcomed Jesus into the city would also have been among the crowd who called for his crucifixion, talk about going from hero to a zero in a flash! Hosanna today, crucify him tomorrow.
I couldn’t help thinking about this story as I reflected on the fickleness of man: one day, you’re a superstar and the greatest thing since sliced bread, and the next day, barely anyone wants to have anything to do with you, and it’s not because you have done anything wrong. Humans are very complex beings and it is extremely hard to decode which page a person is on or what their influences and motivations are.
This scenario plays out in different ways: the wealthy or powerful person who falls from grace, and then the retinue of staff, family, and hangers-on reduce to almost nothing. The celebrity, the corporate executive, the wealthiest person in the family. Once that thing that made people flock around them is gone, the people will also go. They will leave them alone to survive and rebuild their lives by themselves and very often, even those who could support them will turn their backs on them, after all, what do they stand to gain?
People who find themselves in this situation (submitting to praise singers) have willingly allowed themselves to ignore the reality of life and given in to the temporal feelings of other people. Unfortunately, many of us are equally as gullible and tend not to recognise the true intent of many people till the music stops playing. We are then surprised that the same people we helped and supported in their time of need, are nowhere to be found when we need them.
People can be quite fickle and I dare say our environment encourages this as you are only as good as your last title, your last office, your last hit, or even your last thousand naira. Many people are quick to hero-worship others because (a) they need something that the person can provide or (b) it feels good to support that person at the time, for whatever reason (maybe the bandwagon effect?). Just imagine how it feels having people at your beck and call, telling you the things you want to hear because they believe that is how to get things from you, and then you, lapping it all up because you are only human.
Everyone likes to be praised but it takes a wise person to discern that they are not always praiseworthy.
When you have the power to do as you like, when you have people who make it seem like you can do no wrong, when you take on the responsibility of providing for many people who see you as their benefactor for life, you have to realise that the adulation can be your undoing, that power can blind you from thinking clearly. We must learn not to take advantage of people because they have needs as well, that is one thing a lot of people are guilty of. They turn people in need into beggars and servants simply because they have come to them for help.
As a natural human instinct, most people will put themselves first and follow whatever (and whoever) best serves their interests. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this because we have to be fully responsible for ourselves, and we cannot afford to abdicate that responsibility, however, when we continually act this way, it shows that we are inherently selfish and self-centred.
A lot of people tend to make commitments and promises considering their perspective and not necessarily those of others, so when someone promises to give another person something or do something for them, oftentimes it is not because they see their need, it could be because they are conscious of how their helping the person also fits into their plans.
Often, many people place so much emphasis on the help that others say that they will give to them, however when the time comes for them to step up and make good their promise they are found wanting. Why do we so often rely on people like this when in fact, we should realise that people change and that people don’t always mean what they say or say what they mean.
They are moved by their circumstances, feelings, what they believe your expectations of them are, and myriad other subjective factors.
Praise singers and people without character will always be with us so how do we decipher them? How do we get real and consistent feedback from the people who surround us so we can always act objectively and with a clear head? First, we should come to terms with reality and understand that we can never truly understand people’s motivations. We also need to understand that we cannot meet everyone’s needs and we should never attempt to either. We should realise that taking advantage of people because of their situation is inhuman and debasing.
We need to identify our trusted people: those who will always tell us things as they are and not sugarcoat things. We all have an inherent need to feel loved and wanted, to hear our praises being sung by other people but at the same time, we should not allow people to “fall our hand.” If we have to ask for help from people, we should not allow our personality to be subsumed and if we have to give help to people, we should not debase them either.
Easy to say, hard to do, and that is the way I see things today.