I remember thinking the conversation a bit dramatic.
We were in first year, Jide and I, and it was one of those idle days where all we had to do was gist, waiting for one lecturer or the other. We used to have deep conversations, we still do. In almost ten years of our friendship, I can’t remember having a frivolous discussion with Jide. (Yes, we’re boring like that.) I can’t remember what the exact topic was but I remember Jide saying something like “I pray to never get jaded or used to mediocrity. It worries me, sometimes, I see a dead body lying on the road and feel nothing. I want to always feel something.”
This was 2004. Before Boko Haram and its bombings. Before Aluu. Before Bellview and Sosoliso and Dana. Before violent elections that killed NYSC members. And I remember thinking, I’ll never be jaded either.
It’s a resolution I fight to keep. Because it’s too easy, right? Too easy to get used to the statistics. The bad news pours in and we get drowned, suffocated by the deaths and our own helplessness. We get inured. We can’t help it because the alternative; to have each death get to us and the grief find a place in our hearts, places a burden. It hurts too much. It sets us up for heartbreak. It’s difficult.
But it’s right.
We have to place the premium on human life. We have to let it hurt. Have to let it get to us. Have to let it burn. We have to put ourselves in the shoes of the victims’ families and loved ones. We can’t afford to do less. Because those are our children that are being murdered in their schools, those are our friends that are dying in plane crashes, it is our siblings that are being mobbed in the street. The difference between them and us is luck.
We are not safe, and we can’t bury our heads in the sand. It won’t just go away. The lives that are so carelessly being forfeit, are our lives too. The dreams so casually tossed away, they are our dreams. We can’t not raise a fuss. This. Is. Life. We can’t create Life. And you can argue that people die everyday, it’s inevitable. But we also have the right to die with dignity, and to not have the date be rushed forward by someone else’s carelessness or brutality. I, You have a right to live.
There is no worse desolation than losing a loved one in a split second.
I can never forget her. The mother who lost 3 children in the 2005 Sosoliso crash. I still see her face. The image from the TV is seared in my mind and I will never forget her. I tried to imagine how it felt, and couldn’t. Nobody should have to go through that.
And you might say, But how do we change anything? I don’t know. I don’t know. But I know we do ourselves and humanity a disservice when news of death is shrugged off as business as usual. It can’t be. We should never be complacent.
When it hurts, we find our outrage. And when we’re outraged, we try to fix it. The trying is all.