Resilience comes in several kinds of ways. There’s the steel-hard resilience frequently displayed by soldiers on the battlefield: a sort that requires critical analysis of the situation in order to survive a battle. Another is the resilience that comes through some sort of escapism: a temporary distraction of some sort to placate the nerves. When one feels stressed from the never abating struggles of life, one might choose to see a movie. The movie acts as a form of escapism that temporarily shields one from the problems of life. These instruments of resilience are necessary to the sanity, progress, and development of people.
From an economic point of view, resilience plays an important role in raising a nation from the quagmire of economic recession to a marginally stronger foothold of economic growth. It keeps the unemployed tirelessly searching for a job until he/she finds one. It keeps the entrepreneur searching for new means of resuscitating a comatose business. It keeps an embattled Government searching for solutions to macroeconomic issues through the use of monetary and fiscal policies.
When it comes to the use of these instruments of resilience, a constant struggle for some form of optimized balance exists. So one can either resolve to think through the problem in hopes of a solution or one can temporarily leave it and opt for a form of escapism or distraction. One can laugh to push away the frustration and pain or one can face it head-on. Either way, one has not given up on the problem. Essentially, different coping mechanisms that keeps one on the same paths have been applied, howbeit at different points on the track. So much like a Production Possibility Frontier with two products and limited production capability, one typically has to sacrifice some portion of one product for the other. Nigerians tend to sacrifice sober reflection for humor. And this isn’t bad, as humor provides a means of mitigating stress. However, several consequences occur when humor becomes the sole mean through which we constantly manage the constantly barraging bad news in Nigeria. The ‘Oga at the top’ incident became a major joke and has become an everyday phrase. But how many people actually took some time out to find out what the real site was? How many people did some introspection to see if they knew the website of their own organization? Do we then take any lessons out of such a scenario other than humor? Recently, the Rivers State House of Assembly fight captivated Nigeria. Before long, a humorous rendition of that violent and unsavory video came out. Once again, humor suppresses our ability to fully comprehend that we have sunk to a new low.
What happens when humor becomes the knee-jerk reaction? One begins to lose the significance of sobering up, analyzing the situation and considering a solution to the problem. One shuts out the cognitive part of the mind that engages in problem solving. Moreover, turning everything into a joke rapidly desensitizes issues. The worse things get, the less we regard them seriously because precursors to those events have been trivialized. Now remember that the single habit of a person accounts for the collective culture of a people in the long run. With such a culture, we’ll end up laughing ourselves into destruction. In this current period of corruption, plummeting educational standards, kidnapping, declining Human Development Index, laughing should be substituted for sober reflection.
Taking the route of laughter is convenient, but leads to no improvement. Sober up and try to critically analyze things. If you can’t find a solution, at least learn a lesson from it. We’ve had 50 years to sober up and learn from our cumulative failure as a nation. And yet, it has been nothing but ceremonies, festivals, parties, meetings-all yielding nothing. Collectively, we have to realize that the time for laughing at our failures should be far behind. When a nation laughs at itself, other nations laugh with it…and at it.