It was 2 AM, I was on bed, eyes wide open, looking at ceiling. Normally when we look at something, our eyes will form a picture of the object through it’s lenses. Inside eyeballs that picture signal will be converted into electrical signal and sent to the brain. Once the brain receive this signal we ‘see’ the object. This is also how camera works. But for me, even though I was looking at ceiling I didn’t notice it’s existence. I was thinking about too many things, my thoughts ran uncontrollably at light speed. To come to the present moment, I need a body builder slap me with his strong hand.
Earlier that evening I was having a coffee with a friend. One of his friend got betrayed by a guy he made a deal with. With this topic in hand, talking about it for a while, we moved to an unlikely subject. We began talking about how nice Fuvahmulah people are in general.
‘Man, I’ve never seen people so nice to friends, family, and even outsiders. You have traveled many cities. Compare with them, tell me who is better?’ He said.
‘I don’t know man, I haven’t met many Fuvahmulah people’ I said, disappointing him unintentionally ‘So I cant really compare’
‘You know nothing’ he began as I have guessed ‘I grew up here, I’ve seen other people. But kindness and hospitality is far greater in Fuvahmulah people.
With that insult, I became more focused on the subject. ‘ok fine. Fuvahmulah people are the best. Are you happy now? ‘ I just want to drink my coffee in peace that’s all.
‘Why not?’ I asked.
‘You see, being too nice is not good. My problem is that the people here are too nice to others.’ He continued ‘Being nice to those who are nice is ok. But being nice to not nice people is not nice man.’
I interrupted ‘I say, be nice’
‘There are all kind of people out there’ He continued ‘nice people, fewer nice people, assholes, ass assholes, let me tell you what happens when you are nice to them. They will take advantage of you. Remember what happened to him. I say you treat people more than the way they treat you’
‘I thought you should treat the way you’ve been treated.’
‘No, No, that’s what old people said. it doesn’t work. Maybe it worked in their time. But now the formula has changed. Got it?’
‘Hmm’ I murmured
I looked at the phone which was on the table ringing. I picked up and said hello.
‘Where are you?’ Heard from the other side
‘Having a coffee, Come over’
‘Same place we were in last night’
I hang up the phone and up it on the table.
He paused, then continued. ‘People are generally good. They only do things if it is beneficial to them. They don’t do bad things to other just to harm people.’
‘Also those things that are beneficial to those whom they care about’ I added.
‘Yah’ he continued ‘Even murderers will not kill someone unless he thinks he will gain some benefit out of it. Raskolnikov killed pawn broker’s sister because she might tell others about his first murder’
‘Hmmm, I think, instead of saying beneficial, saying something like greed, selfish, or self interest. is much more appropriate.’
‘No. not greed, they just do things because they get some benefit’ He answered.
‘Behind this benefit you are talking about is greed and self interest. Why do you go fishing? to catch fish. why do you catch fish? to feed you, your wife and children’
‘I’m not greedy.’ he said. ‘I feed my wife and children without any self interest’
I think he didn’t like the way I accuse him of being greed. He seems like someone who is offended, of course I didn’t mean that.
‘People feed wife and children to fulfil a selfish end’ I said.
‘No, I do that only because they are my children and she is my wife.’
‘You see, A guy told me that biggest human drives are Survival and Reproduction. Both are one’s own self-interest that is programmed before we were born. When you feed your children you are operating on the second drive. Your children are the result of reproduction and your wife is the means for reproduction, and you are there being happy, meeting your interests fulfilled. Your self-interests.’
He sat quite, puffing cigarette and releasing smoke in the air.
‘I read selfish genes’ he said in a low voice ‘But I haven’t thought it in that angle. hmm, Interesting.
He paused again. I also stayed quite. There is a mild breeze of fresh air making palm leaves move side to side.
He lit another cigarette and put the lighter on the table.
‘Anyway this is not very much related to what we started.’ He raised eyebrows as if he won an argument ‘What I’m concerned is the people here. Most of them they just accept whatever is given to them. They don’t ask for more. This began when they were kids, their parents told them to be happy with whatever they have. Not to cry for more. You know what happened then?’
‘Tell me’ I said
‘They never ask for more. They listened to this advice. They will follow it till the day they are taken to the grave’
‘Good’ I said
‘Good?’ He got surprised ‘There is nothing good in that, and nothing good will come out of it. It’s just a bad advice’
‘Oh’ I said ‘I don’t think there is a way to fix that. What you have to do is tell each person not to be satisfied with what they got and keep on asking for more. Its a massive task. Impossible to do it’
‘Not only that’ he continued ‘People also need courage’
I laughed and said ‘ you sounded like homer singing Iliad. We are in 21st century, things today has nothing to do with courage.’
‘See, this is the problem, courage, such an important discipline, is no longer counted as important. You guys are brainwashed by our education system.’ He paused ‘A wise guy said you will not do anything without courage’
‘Who is that wise guy’ I wondered and asked.
‘Oh, ok’ I replied ‘I mean courage is also important. I think people here have courage too.’
‘When you are too nice, it means you don’t have a courage’
He sounded completely radical. I said ‘Really? Tell me more’
‘When someone piss you off, you have to speak up. When you are not happy with something you have to speak up. Most people don’t do that, because they don’t want to be the first one to make waves. They hope someone will speak up. But if everyone is hoping someone else to speak up then there wont be anyone who will speak up.’ He took a sip of coffee and continued ‘This is why we have so many things that upset us. Imagine, just imagine the moment when someone does something that upsets you, you speak up and correct him right away. Imagine everytime you speak to someone, they explain exactly what they want. Will miss understanding still exists? No. imagine all those relationships that breakdown because of misunderstanding will be fixed. Those business contracts will be acted accordingly.’
‘Yah yah: I interrupted him, because it seems he is going to burst out of excitement ‘I get it. I get what you mean, that’s perfect. But do you think will there be a time people will do that?’
He always like to be on the idealist side of issues. Everytime I remind him there is a practical side that has to be dealt with, he gets upset.
‘Man isn’t it great if things go that way?’
‘Yah it will’ I continued ‘But there has always been people who hide their feelings, who don’t have enough courage to speak up’
‘Courage’ he said ‘See you even said it. Behind every big actions there is courage.’
‘Man, yah. But you cannot put courage into people the way you install apps on your phone. It requires knowledge, experience and practical wisdom. Those three things in that order. People are not willing to read a text that is longer than one page. How can they get knowledge? People are not willing to expose to different experiences. How they can get experience? Combination of knowledge and experience is practical wisdom. How will they get it? People these days cannot focus on one thing for longer than a minute. They cannot handle boredom. Man this list goes on and on.’
‘I don’t know man’ He stopped me ‘But something got to be done. Someone has to do something.’
‘Yah, The government brought us here. They have the resources to fix it.’
‘These days whenever there is a problem. All people do is blame the government. Then sit back and relax. What is wrong with you guys? Governments operate through influence. If you just sit back they will not fix it. One should not expect any help from governments.’ There he paused, took a puff and continued ‘Instead one should always force them to do things through lobbying and pressure.’
‘Right Right, so you mean they are out of the picture?’ I asked.
‘Sort of. They are in the background, one should never bring government to fore front of their discussion.’
‘I don’t know how it will be fixed, but I get your point. People should not be too soft or too hard when dealing with others.’ I said
After that we changed the subject, then talk about other stuff. After an hour later the other friend of mine who called when we were having coffee has arrived, then we all headed outside for an evening ride.