Comfort Is Dangerous

I have just been reading the unputdownable Born A Crime:Stories From A South African Childhood ,South African comedian and host of The Daily Show Trevor Noah's autobiography and i came across a very interesting topic about comfort that i thought i should share with you guys.

On that particular excerpt i'm going to talk about here,Trevor was talking about how growing up in the hood makes it easy to find one oneself succumbing to accepting their terrible situation and finding comfort in it and as someone who grew up in a township,i can relate very well with what he said. I grew up in Monarch,a shanty township on the outskirts of Francistown and even-though it was not the best place to grow up in, compared to other kids in the neighborhood,i would say i had a relatively privileged upbringing because i had parents who always encouraged me to strive to be something better than what i was exposed to everyday in the neighborhood,a privilege others unfortunately did not have.

Growing up in the "kasi" like it is most often called, i was surrounded by a diverse pool of characters. We had all kinds of people in Monarch,the hood thieves,the shebeen ladies,those who made ends meets by doing odd jobs etc etc. What all those characters had in common was that,despite living in barely humane conditions,they still,someway somehow,always managed to make ends meet and believe me,just being able to make ends meet in the hood was a major achievement.

 As a child growing up around those people and seeing how happy they always were despite the apparent hardships, it made me wonder if that was what life is about,surviving. It had me wondering if what i only needed in life was a little odd job to buy the basics and spend the rest in bars and pubs every weekend. Despite my parents always instilling in me that there was much more to life than the hood,looking at those people who were working hard every day of the week to make those ends meet,still being stuck in a cycle of "working to survive" but still seemingly happy in that situation made me think that hey,maybe that is what life about and nothing more.

The people we looked up to in the hood were people who had found comfort in a not so great situation and it is very difficult to blame them. We had smart guys who failed college because they drank too much, we had guys who were very good football players but couldn't join higher league teams because they couldn't put the bottle down long enough to make something of their talent. We had very good plumbing and electrician guys who instead of doing odd jobs to build something bigger,they just did it to afford a crate of quarts for the weekend. All those guys had the talents and brains to make something of their lives but because of the hood mentality,they ended up right back where the people they also looked up to ended up,a vicious cycle.

Most people who have not had an experience of living in the neighborhood have this common misconception that the hood is just a bunch of poor and dimwitted people who are in that situation because they were too lazy to make something of their lives. As much as the former may be true,the latter is anything but. Hood people are able to buy their kids school clothes,pay rent,pay for transport and not starve all on a salary that the upper middle class who call them dimwits cannot manage to stretch to last them a week.

As much as i applaud my fellow hood people for having the intelligence and wit to survive even with the most minimal means of survival,what i will shun us for, however,is the mindset of accepting and eventually finding comfort in a shitty situation to a point where we prefer it over elevating ourselves to a better quality of life. Although in life we do not have the prerogative to choose the situation we are born into,what is our responsibility is ensuring that we grow out of that situation to attain a better life for ourselves and those who come after us.

Having to grow up in an environment where life around you is not so great and seeing the people around you embrace and seem comfortable in that difficulty can make it hard to inspire oneself enough to grow out and leave that situation. It makes it easy for one to succumb to complacency and not want to make something out of their lives, something more that just hustling to survive and watch days go by. One ends up adopting that mentality of finding comfort in misery because when they look around them,it seems to be working well for everyone else but although our role models may have given us an image that there wasn't that much to the world beyond the hood boundaries and that one can be happy in misery, it is still on us to educate ourselves to change that mindset and aim to attain more than just what they did and more that what the stereotypical hood kid is expected to achieve which is nothing.

Life sometimes is exactly like growing up in the hood. Sometimes you go through difficulty for such extensive periods of time that you end up adapting and finding comfort in that difficulty. You end up feeling at home with that difficulty to a point that you do not want to move from that point to something else. Sometimes it is because of fear of taking risks,exploring the unknown. Sometimes it is just sheer complacency. Whatever reason you can come up with,the fact still stands that there is no nobility in being in a difficult situation,no-matter how accustomed to it you are. Nobility comes from realizing that there is a better place that you can be in life than where you are right now and building up the courage to walk the path to that place.