Tuesday 1 July 2014

Thought Picnic: Living your own life, creating your own norms

Father and son, Justice Oputa and Charles Oputa aka Charlie Boy
Courtesy of Nancy Keshy Ademolu

You do your norms
I happened upon a Twitter firestorm about norms, standards, customs and values. My Nigerian friends were at their sententious best from judgemental through castigation to excoriation, disgust heaped infamy on notoriety, what a sight it was.
Now, it was the difficult case of the son of an establishment figure at his father’s funeral service, where he gave no space for expected norms or decorum that people felt both scandalised and mortified, yet I was unperturbed.
Peace is all
In my view, father and son had made their peace with each other, the father a respected judge, the son an anarchist of sorts, a complete opposite of his father in demeanour and conduct, at 63, still playing tearaway with incredulity. His father knew all that and yet he made no plans to have his funeral conducted by any other than his son as he deems fit.
Beyond that, the funeral services of very important personalities can so easily be gatecrashed by political transients seeking validation through egotistical displays of shameless megalomania. What should be a solemn and sombre occasion can readily descend into farce because of these trashy people. [Information Nigeria]
It can become a protocol nightmare for the family of the deceased, it is probably best to suggest they keep away than have them create a rowdy scene. If the programme does not confer the honour of making a speech, the uppity had rather keep their seats or send in their regrets for not attending.
Trash the norms
In any case, the broader issue was about what was expected and what was observed. The son was never a conformist and the expectation that he would conform to a certain type was at best wishful.
Having broken all the rules of convention, we should have expected the unconventional and that could well be bizarre and lacking in taste, but that was his prerogative and he exercised it to the full.
Many people many not be worthy of example or even close to being role models but as outliers they are bold, courageous and out there, living their own lives happily without a care for what others think about them.
Live your own life
To some, it is almost lascivious, yet it is the ultimate pursuit of happiness and long may we have such amongst us to teach us that we do not have to conform, we can break the rules, jettison the norms and still be well-adjusted and successful people.
The bigger question is, when are we going to begin to live our own lives, the lives we have charted and wished for regardless of what others think they have as influence over us?
The life to choose your own career without sanction, the life to love the one your love without question, the life to live with the full expression of your sexuality without shame, interference or fear, the life to be you and be accepted for who you are.
The themes of tolerance, acceptance, understanding and humanity become the focus as is the need for everyone including ourselves to mind our own business.

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