Years ago working in Abuja, Nigeria, the organization we were working with Management Strategies for Africa, provided us with the services of a driver. His name is Monday and he left a lasting impression on our lives. Monday grew up in a village, oldest son of eight children. Growing up in a village meant very little income and thus a challenging life. He was fortunate, and also very driven, to get a job in the city. Although his dream was to be in the profession of accounting, he was grateful to get a job as a driver, to be given responsibility for a car, and for the people he was to drive around and to protect.
Monday, as most workers, did not live in the city, but in what is known as a satellite town. There, he shared a room with four other young men to save costs. Monday sent 80% of his paycheck back to his mom and dad so that there would be more money to take care of them and of his siblings. He felt it was a privilege to be able to do so, and he was grateful that he could. Nigeria is a country of many challenges as it is the largest black nation in the world, with a population of about 186 million, most under the age of 40 (40 is considered a long life), and about 80% of young men unemployed.
Monday, despite his own challenges, was nicely dressed and with a tie on, showing respect for his work. As we drove along, one of the lessons we learned from Monday was about attitude. He pointed out some people who were clearly homeless. He asked us ‘do you know what makes them poor?’. We did not know. He said ‘what makes them poor is that they think they are poor, they think that they have no power, they think they are victims.’ He went on to say that one is only poor if one thinks of themselves this way. I felt very humble at his words. When I met him, I thought he was poor and I felt sadness and sympathy.
When he spoke, I realized my error. What right did I have to think of him as poor when he did not perceive himself this way? What right did I have to align myself with the energy field, the morphic field of pity and sympathy…of the morphic field of perceiving him as a victim…when he did not see himself this way. I teach and write about morphic fields and I take care what morphic fields I align myself with. And yet, I fell into a trap of aligning myself with perceiving someone as a victim and thus as someone powerless to do something about their own situation. Monday taught me that he did have the power, and how important it is to see ourselves and our fellow humans as powerful, and not as victims.
I have thought about this quite a bit lately as I listen to the news and hear people take up causes for ‘victims’. And I wonder if this harms the people that might need our help just until they regain their own power. I wonder what difference could be made if we first and foremost perceived our fellow humans as having power to do something to help themselves. And did our supporting and helping from that perspective instead of the perspective of seeing them as victims.
I write about the power of morphic fields in The Genuine Contact Way: Nourishing a Culture of Leadership. Have you read this book yet?