What you need to know:
I am yet to understand why man can conquer the highest mountains and go to outer space but fail to master ego.
Life is a generous teacher and will give you the kind of lessons you need at every stage of your life. The only catch is, you must be wise enough to understand when you are being taught a lesson so you do not miss out. For instance, the recent demise of the world’s longest serving monarch Queen Elizabeth II, was filled with lessons galore. One of those was the backlash caused by the bussing of African leaders to Westminster Abbey for the Queen’s requiem.
While their people back home expressed anger and saw racism in the arrangement, the heads of state including our very own General Jeje Odongo seemed happy and had no problem taking the bus.
Further information shows that contrary to the impression that the bus was for the ‘poor relations’, other heads of state from Europe and Asia including Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Malaysian Agong Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, Singaporean President Halimah Yacob, Japanese Emperor Naruhito, Polish President Andrzej Duda and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, rode the bus too.
Taking it in one stride
What the prima donnas back home forgot to mention was the fact President Joe Biden, the one causing the ruckus for having driven in his own car was seated several rows behind the so called poor relations. For once, I was proud of our heads of state because they read the situation and did the right thing. This was not an occasion to exhibit national power and splendor. It was a time to celebrate a life well-lived. I have no doubt that had tables turned, the Queen would not have thought twice about riding the bus because she lived a life of humility, even though she had every reason to be uppity.
I am yet to understand why man can conquer the highest mountains, go to outer space and invent all these life-changing technology but fail to master something as simple as the ego.
Psychologists tell us the ego is a very fragile thing, focused on anything to be incensed about and it always finds it. It manifests itself in petty ways such as a man refusing to pick up after himself because he has people who should do that or making a big deal about the form of transport to someone’s funeral. I still do not understand how the irony of people having an issue of being bussed to the Queen’s funeral can be lost on anyone.
I once read somewhere that the ego structure of the brain is created through ‘addition’ of identities, life-story, memories, achievements, possessions and beliefs. Since the ego is always trying to add to itself, it never feels complete; it never feels stable; sometimes, it feels diminished, sometimes, it feels exalted, sometimes it feels important, sometimes it feels worthless, sometimes it feels like a winner, sometimes, it feels like a loser. Hence, intrinsically, the ego is unhappy, most of the time, and even its happiness is just unhappiness waiting to happen.
The menacing ego
It is no wonder that egotistic people are extremely unstable, unpredictable, shallow, moody and always unsatisfied. Also, since the ego is a lack-based construct, egotistical people are always quick to find the negative in every situation. This explains why, the bus incident was blown out of proportion by people who were probably holed up in their small worlds while those they were fighting for had huge smiles on their faces.
I am a very apolitical person but for once, I was proud to see those beautiful African smiles on that bus. For once, our leaders avoided being the centre of an international gaffe by insisting on riding in their own cars. If you have seen Hollywood portrayals of African leaders, they are depicted as puffed up, extravagant and socially challenged buffoons that must travel with a praise singer because they want to impress their importance on everyone.
Our leaders showed humility and class on that bus and I hope when all the dust has settled down, we learn the lesson they demonstrated for us.