“Whoever said small things don’t matter has never seen a match start a wildfire.” – Beau Taplin
“Little things do matter,” says Andy Andrews, “sometimes, little things matter the most. Everybody pays a lot of attention to big things, but nobody seems to understand that big things are almost always made up of little things.” – The Little Things: Why You Really Should Sweat the Small Stuff by Andy Andrews
I would advise that you reread the quote and try to internalize it, please and thank you. Now, if you are to disassemble a computer and lay out its parts (a monitor, a system unit, a keyboard, a mouse and a central processing unit) before people with no idea of what a computer is and how it operates, summarize the incredible work a computer can do without explaining the role each part plays and then ask these people to tell you which part of the computer is considered the brain of the computer, I am convinced that I will win the bet that unless it is just a lucky guess, the majority will not pick the processor even though it is the correct answer. If you were one of the people guessing, would have you picked the smallest part? I doubt it! Sometimes, the most trivial things are the most important ones.
Like the example above, this is how we as people usually treat things in life. It is good to set priorities and focus on the big stuff, but at the same time, it is also good to focus on the little things too. Accomplishing the first thing on your to-do list feels as good and relieving as canceling the “least important” thing on the same list. Big things matter but so do little things. Board Members and CEOs matter to the growth of a company but so do janitors and security personnel.
I followed the case with Sajj House recently involving the three young women that accused the entity of racist and sexist practicses; because a lot has already been said about it, I will focus on the varying opinions I heard from people in taxis, in the street, on the radio and social media when the issue was a hot topic. Some of these statements are as follow:
“If Sajj didn’t want them to enter, they could have just gone somewhere else. Sajj isn’t the only entertainment center”;
“We have more important issues to address right now like the unpaid doctors’ salaries and our shattered economy, an entertainment spot denying girls entry isn’t that important”;
“How can we be so sure that the girls aren’t paid agents sent to bring the people to place down?”;
“Our girls these days are not serious, they don’t want to do anything but look up to men for everything, it’s good for them”; and
“If that is what Sajj is doing, then it is wrong. I hope a speedy and fair trial is conducted.”
Now, unless your view was in some ways related to the last one, don’t you think you were somehow selfish? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said, ,“the single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.” (TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story)
Yes, there are other entertainment places and arguably better ones than Sajj, but Sajj is a public place. If the allegations about them are correct, don’t you think they need to be addressed? Why should segregation be practiced there?
Yes, we have some pressing issues that we have to address. However, are racism and sexism not as pressing issues as “a shattered economy” and “unpaid doctors’ salaries”? These less essential issues have the propensity to have an impact, negative or positive, depending on how they are handled. Racism and other forms of discrimination that we experience today, started small but like this Sajj issue. Societies thought that there were more important issues to address and we downplayed it, and now there’s this seemingly unbridgeable chasm between us humans.
Yes, it is possible that the young women could be paid agents, but it is also possible that they weren’t paid and were only standing up for what is right. Don’t they deserve justice? Is that not why people are accused and found guilty without them having the opportunity to defend themselves against their accusers?
And yes, some girls are involved in so many things for so many different reasons; however, there are still many other girls that strive every day to live a life worth emulating. Shouldn’t we all be respected and our rights protected?
See? These small things matter. We insensitively create judgemental opinions about issues because they do not directly affect us. We refuse to support others because we do not directly benefit from their cause. We sit and do nothing about things we see are wrong but become skeptics when others start to do something about it. We selfishly trash people causes without trying to truly understand what they are about; not realizing that we are only viewing things through our lenses and not theirs.
Highlighting another instance, I recently watched the unflinching support Letitia Gibson received during the launching of “Dele’s Natural Hair Clinic” and was inspired by the fact that even ladies with permed/relaxed hair turned out. I have witnessed more support for innovations over the last few years with Satta Wahab’s Naz Naturals, Mahmud Johnson’s Kernel Fresh, and the SMART Liberia family, among others. We underestimate the impact these little supports we give have on these people and their work. Your presence at an event is all a person needs to drive them most times. A listening ear is sometimes the most important antidote a person can have when they are down. It doesn’t have to be you or about you before can act, help or support. Keep being supportive, and never underestimate the power of little acts of kindness. As Andy Andrews said, “when you ignore little things, they often turn to big things that have become a lot harder to handle.”
Authored by Jay Hoff
Featured pic by Daily Mail