Is it human nature to prey on one another’s desperation?
So on my way back from work on Friday, I got stuck at Oshodi. There were simply no buses and there was a crowd of people who were all struggling for the few buses that deigned to grace us with their presence. It was survival of the fittest. It had rained earlier that day, which people said was responsible for the scarcity of buses because of the increased traffic (somebody still needs to explain the mechanics of this to me because the road still looked the same). As a result of this, the drivers decided to get greedy (as we all get at some point in our lives, no?). The bus ride that would ordinarily cost you a 100 naira or 150 at the most, became 500 naira. So somehow the crowd of people plus the scarcity of buses equaled an increase that was 5 times the normal price. And because people were desperate, they struggled to get into those buses.
Now those of us who were also desperate but were not about to pay 5 times more than we would usually do; simply because we just couldn’t afford it, especially for people like me, who had budgeted the exact fare that would get them home, were stuck at the bus stop for longer, waiting for the sane drivers who were kind enough to just add an extra 100 naira.
Now back to my question; why do we prey on other people’s desperation? How do you justify an increase five times over the actual price? People are stranded and in real distress and discomfort and a fellow human being, seeing all of these, decides to capitalize on it to make an inordinate amount of profit. What has happened to our humanity?
I realize that it would take a longer time to get to their destination coupled with the increased traffic which would, in effect, cause more fuel to be consumed. Reasoning like this, one might say an increase is fitting, it is to be expected and it’s even understandable but that much increase is, in my opinion, greed. Bike riders got in on the action as well, collecting as much as a thousand naira.
Something funny happened on the way. When I eventually got a bus and we were stuck in traffic, one of the other buses had broken down and the conductor was pushing the bus, pausing to catch his breath at intervals. It was strenuous because nobody had gotten down from the bus so he was pushing a bus filled with people! Reward for his greed? So you seize every opportunity to inflate the bus fare but you do nothing to keep your bus in good condition?
How does one justify behaviour like this?
I feel like we are not a people given to much thought because if we really thought deeply about the things we do, we would realize that we shouldn’t behave in certain ways. I have seen this happen one too many times; this capitalizing on other people’s weaknesses, ignorance or desperation, both on larger and smaller scales. All you need to do is turn on the TV or the radio (if that’s more your speed), or the headlines of your favourite online news site.
When you are about to badger the weak, then imagine yourself before a more powerful man. – Thiruvalluvar.
What is this need to get one over the unsuspecting person? The need to screw someone else over to enrich one’s self? Can we really justify most of our actions?
Can we think of someone else other than ourselves?
Can we hold ourselves to a higher standard?
Are we all just desperate people trying to make the most of a desperate situation?
Do we go on living selfishly, never thinking about the consequences of our actions?