Most people who hear my BA project title generally ask “what’s it mean?” “Where d’you get it?” “Why this?” They generally assume that I picked it because I was weird, or special, depending on who it is. That’s before they find out the answers to those questions. What’s different is that I have never told anyone why it’s personal to me.
At age four or thereabouts, I fingered a girl. We were in kindergarten and her name was Mercy. I had no idea what I was doing but she wanted it, I didn’t mind cos it wasn’t exactly a bother. I guess she may have seen elders around her doing it or may have joined them in watching porn because they’d thought she was a “small girl” and didn’t know anything.
At about age seven or eight, virtually all my mates who lived in the same compound had had sex. I mostly heard stories but you’d know they were true from the reactions. I was slated to partake a few times but something always came up. About a year or two later, respectively, I entered a “pastor” phase.
I was raised by different older people at different points in my life. My first role model growing up was my brother. My mom didn’t have the time because she had to play dad so she put us in a church next to our house, where we went for Sunday service and eventually joined full time. At nine, my siblings were considered old enough to walk to the Catholic church for catechism. After one received first communion, they started going there permanently.
I was in a hurry to join my brother there and when I got there, the enthusiasm put me into the pastor mode. At school, my friends were canoodling in empty classes but I was “holier than them.” Another reason, perhaps the main reason, was that I always quarreled with the one person who I later realised that I really liked among all the girls.
At about twelve, my conviction about religion became stronger. I’d been reading some Catholic literature and I wanted to emulate saints’ chastity and all round holiness. As time passed, I became contemptuous towards deviancy of every kind and deviants as well. I started to seek perfection in every way and avoided everything that could “contaminate” my efforts. I estranged myself from people, even those who I’d been with all my life.
The years up till I was, say, sixteen or seventeen, were the most financially prosperous in my life so far. that was mainly because I was a Christian or part of a community of Christians who were rich. Thus, to my mind, being rich was consequent upon being Christian but I was soon disabused. I had to move away from that community and surprisingly my need for money started at that same time. All the change I had gotten, I had squandered but I retained my stuck up attitude.
I had to get money for my O’ Levels and had to work but no matter how much of that I did, it didn’t seem to be enough, never seemed to be enough. I had the good luck of wise spending and a fairly strong will. It was during this time that I began to think up and actually do some things which I had thought I would never have done just a few months back. In time, I needed “placatives” and dabbled into porn. Of course, I’d known about it for a time, since I was about eleven but it only began to be needful.
I’d only committed a few petty thefts from family members, surcharged people’s bills at work, lied and swore to be right about my dishonesty and seen quite a number of porn videos. Nothing too serious. These events, these transformations, helped me to realise how uncalled for my judgements of other people had been. I began to become more curious about other people’s reasons for committing crime and being altogether “evil.” These days, when I think about it, J. Cole’s lyrics come to mind:
“IF GOD WAS REAL, I BELIEVE HE’LL NEVER JUDGE A MAN
BECAUSE HE KNOWS US ALL AND THEREFORE HE SHOULD UNDERSTAND
THE IGNORANCE AND PAIN…
When I was to chose a topic for my project, I’d decided long before that I wasn’t going to do a random, overflogged topic. Hence, I thought of working on the stupidity of the patriachy using rap lyrics as new age poetry. Then, I thought to analyse the biblical creation story to prove that men had no natural or spiritual precedence over women and my lecturer friend lauded these ideas but told me that I wouldn’t be availed the research material for the latter project and that it may be too much for me.
I considered returning to the previous project topic and was actually going to go through with it when in the holiday season of my third year at the university, I came across Philip Zimbardo’s book as part of my curious reading concerning the human nature and the content was very apt, very relevant, very personal and of course very new so I jumped on.
The Lucifer Effect is aimed at understanding how good people turn evil. Evil, to me, goes beyond crimes against others. It extends to crimes against oneself.
Lately, I’ve begun to drop off some habits which I picked up in that I picked up in those times of strain and have come to the conclusion that people’s situations have a great role to play in their lives. It has also become increasingly glaring what the part of the system in facilitating these things is. As such, it’s discomforting to find that many people place themselves on moral high grounds and wouldn’t deign to put themselves in others’ shoes.
From their standpoint, life’s black and white. Another set of people who receive this sort of stigma are those with psychological illnesses which they didn’t chose to have or addictions which overpower them which they may have begun to engage in as coping mechanisms for the absolute bullshit pressure from life at all sides in the first place. Oh, please, if you don’t consider peer pressure pressure enough, you should begin to reconsider. This is coming because many people discountenance the influence of peer groups on individuals, how it can lead to imitation, loneliness, a feeling of worthlessness, a need for escape, an escape into addiction and even bodily self harm.
Lastly, I really wish that those who have harmful habits realise and appreciate their efforts. “We must strive to be perfect” is an acceptance of universal fallibility and steps in the reverse direction, no matter how tiny should be appreciated. In Radioactive, there are lines to the effect that one’s life and one’s skin can be very discomforting, inhospitable and unhomely. When you chose to be free (by chosing harmful escape routes) or not to be free (by committing suicide), you deserve all the self love you can muster.
Until the next therapy session,
I hope you learn to love you more.