By Johnson Babalola
Once upon a time, a man named AX went into the marketplace accompanied by his friends to inform everyone in the market that his brother PC was a thief. The supporters of his brother reacted by debunking his claim with their own claim that AX himself was the thief. There were arguments, name callings, abuse and in fact, threats to each other. Things were so heated that some people in the marketplace kept mute while a few had to leave.
That did not deter both sides. They called those that left cowards. “They failed to defend what was right”, one of the supporters of AX said.
“Yes, they should have stayed to defend justice,” responded a supporter of PC. There was no peace in the marketplace.
Then one of PC’s supporters named DD consulted with Baba Amoye, a man in his 90s who was regarded as the wisest man in the community. “Baba, there is no peace in the marketplace. We are at each other’s throats. What do we do?”. He asked.
“I heard all that has been happening. Your people are responsible for the problem.” Baba responded.
“How Baba? We did not start this. They accused PC wrongly and called us names”.
“Is there proof that PC stole?”
“Has anyone arrested him for stealing?”
“Did he send you to advocate for him?”
“Must you then respond to the accusations against PC?”
“Then keep quiet.”
“Even in the face of such unjust accusations?”
“Yes, as long as it is not official, ignore such. It is human nature that when they poke you and you respond, they will double down. It is like adding fire to gas. Rather, focus on other issues that are relevant to making the marketplace habitable. The marketplace has no water, no electricity, no good roads, the shops are dilapidated, and the mentorship program is dying. You don’t talk about those.
“They are not our responsibilities Baba.”
“Of course, they are your responsibilities. Pay your market dues on time, educate those around you about keeping their environment secured and clean, advocate for the abused and the oppressed in the marketplace, raise funds to rehabilitate the school, hospital, Police station and other public buildings in the marketplace, advocate for out of school children to attend school and ensure your shops are well maintained.”
“But Baba, are you saying they can continue to call PC a thief and other names and we just say nothing? That means anyone can call us names and get away with it.’”
“No. That means when both sides are busy attending to making a positive difference in their immediate environment and places of influence, there will be little room for spending hours gossiping and going back and forth often repeating the same issue or non-issue in the name of advocacy. If you have nothing to do, volunteer your time in the primary and secondary schools in the marketplace to mentor the younger ones about the ills in abusing drugs, joining cults and the importance of patriotism. Demonstrate to them that you are a person of integrity yourself. You will help build future marketplace leaders that you will have no reason to accuse of theft. So, the journey to a progressive and successful marketplace starts with you.”
“Thank you, Baba.”
DD reported back to the team. The verbal attack continued from AX and his friends. PC’s supporters ignored them. It was not easy for them, but they remained mute. Instead, they started discussing issues of general importance to the marketplace and embarked on community improvement programs. Then the supporters AX gradually reduced their verbal attacks and eventually joined in the development of the marketplace. Both sides focused on issues that helped move the marketplace forward, including measured and fair criticism of AX and PC whilst suggesting solutions too. With time, those who left the marketplace returned. There was peace in the marketplace again. Development then followed.
In certain situations, not related to abuse, deprivation and criminal activities, silence is golden!
*Johnson Babalola is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, storyteller, and story-based management trainer. Follow him on IG @jbdlaw; FB: https://www.facebook.com/jbdlaw and www.johnsonbabalola.com/www.tpmattorneys.com