DR SR SOLOME NAJJUKA: FRIENDS TURNED ENEMIES; Why some people we help turn full circle against us!

Sr. Dr. Najjuka Solome is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Victoria University (PHOTO /Courtesy)

It has for long bothered me that some people we have journeyed with, made part of our lives, made big sacrifices for may turn full circle against us, and often metamorphose into our greatest and acidic enemies. This is a painful topic I would rather shoo back under the rocks, but it is time to brave the terrain for even a morsel of clarity. Some of our stories of benevolence, munificence, and self-sacrifice end up like a dull piece of coursework; bland, anticlimactic and at worst a real nightmare. We are pleasantly surprised! Psychologists often say that each problem between two parties is equally caused by both parties. I am not going to argue against this fact as I have often been admonished to critically look at the belly side of life experiences. So, let us pursue the source of this turbocharged animosity that is often sprayed back towards the supposedly kind-hearted, generous, and hopeful benefactors.

True enough, both sides matter in the impasse of broken relationships between some of the children whose fees we have paid, some relatives whose bills we have constantly footed, colleagues we have bailed out financially, strangers we have housed for years, and even nations whose debts we have forgiven or restructured, and us. Full disclosure, I had to fight with the psychological carnivores that prayed upon my confidence and trust, when some students we had on our sponsorship list were found to be the ring leaders of a strike that demanded rice, beef, milk as part of their meals. The question why should it be them to dig a dagger in our backs and seem like the bitterest of ingrates still lingers around? It indeed conjures up a set of concentric circles around the issue of benevolence, kindness, and how this should be or be done. It reminds me of one Dickensian description of Christmas, “as an occasion when the well-to-do use life’s losers to improve their day and to feel good” – by giving presents and aid of course! This clearly indicates that benevolence can easily be misunderstood and conceived and thus, may require some deep reflection at all levels – personal, national, and international.

The issue is that some people who cross the paths of our lives as our protegees, or subject of our charities and magnanimity come with their realities, a set of baggage that includes their brokenness, deprivation, sensitivities, anger, frustrations, and such like whose import we often take no time to understand and appreciate. The IMF and World Bank handed out dollars to poor nations and set conditionalities for servicing the debts with little done to get into the reality and karma of these failing states. They were often stunned when these nations insolently announced defection with a heavy miasma of detest and hate for the “kindness” of these esteemed organs. With the same manifold perplexities, our friends and us get entwined in the same wasp nests. This then begs the question of what we need to do to avoid such painful scenarios in situations where we have given “all to mean all”, in situations when we genuinely make sacrifices so that others may be better.

These are moments when we grit our teeth and take on extra jobs and endure all-nighters, risk migration to make some extra bucks so we can share, forego our leisure to help out, give the gift of our time to counsel, and we receive a cold shoulder after all. Where it pinches is that our kind hearts run faster and ahead of us and we take little time to bisect the game of pulling someone up, giving someone a push, or a good head start. We are scourged instead and everything that follows resists a definitive explication. These scenarios may not be far from what we see with the Entandikwa and Emyooga initiatives where some amount of money is supplied to our youth for their development and prosperity. We really need to develop viable questions and work out workable models for our benevolence and real desire to help those we feel for.

Where this whole topic pinches, is that often the answers we get gather perplexity as they gain in profundity, and this is why I need your help in mining out some answers to this conundrum. I would venture to guess that our giving and benevolence must be followed by some space to educate the recipients of our charities, bail-outs, and gifts. It is our obligation to let our friends know that we are not giving off our excess and that we have genuinely and happily chosen to make the sacrifice to help them, or is this all wrong in the end! We may also revisit our attitudes towards those we help and this may appear in what we say and do. No one should ever be caught exploiting any of her/his protegeés as our laborers as it is claimed that often, “the rich grind the faces of the poor”. There may be a degree of mutual backscratching, but this may be cautiously handled where it is inevitable.

Numerous are cases where we have done all we could do, and still our relationships with those we have helped still carry a barb and a miasma about them. There is no magic cursor pointing us to an easy answer to this issue of the passionate animosity one can receive from those we seem to help. There must be regularities and sequences that link together the act of benevolence and gratitude and we must decipher this. What remains clear is that we must bring more than our heart to helping others, be it individuals, communities, or nations.  I invite you to join me in this reflection and musing and to write back if you get to your nirvana about it. Perhaps now, this is as far as my guess at some answers should be pushed without snapping the link to reality. Let us keep helping out each other even when things turn up different, for there is no rainbow without a storm. I swear I still have some loving even with those that have made my head spin over this quizzical issue. And thanks to those that continuously bear me out!!

Dr. Sr Najjuka Solome

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Victoria University


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