OPINION:A Shift in Perspective, by Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq.

This morning, I decided to write something that reflects a shift in my worldview, indicating that issues can be seen from different perspectives. What is important is where you are standing, your state of mind, and your situation in life. Ignorance is a dangerous instrument of destruction that any society must combat to protect its sanity and future. This can only be achieved by continuous, aggressive investment in both formal and informal education. I intend to make this a very short piece, as it is borne out of my personal experience growing up.

Growing up, we were not necessarily poor; we simply lived within the circumference of the lower class with no luxuries. If that was poverty, we were unaware because we were eating and surviving, as life seemed to demand nothing more than the basics. So we struggled on a daily basis, hand to mouth, with the assurance of a better day ahead, and that seemed to be correct.

I grew up as a church boy, someone actively involved in church activities, from being a choir member to participating in youth programs. Church activities such as night vigils, musical concerts, and numerous night programs were almost daily. It was usually one event after another. A common situation involved a rich man or a troublesome woman living close to the church, always seen as problematic and against the church because they felt the church made a lot of noise and disturbed their sleep.

In those days, and even now in some less developed areas, churches are often situated in residential areas. Any time someone complained about the church causing a disturbance, our common thought was that such people possessed some form of familiar spirit, were ungodly, and were against the church. Rather than consider their complaints, we would start praying against them, to the extent that some people would move out of the area, and we would simply conclude that God had answered our prayers.

I remember vividly a particular woman living in a compound where we usually had a youth group prayer vigil. The idea we had about this innocent woman was that anytime we started praying at night, she could not fly to her evil coven; she would be disturbed and come to our window to beg us to stop the noise. Instead, we would intensify our prayers. The summary of this is that we strongly believed anyone disturbed by church activities, day or night, had some form of evil spirit, and it was not about their sanity. I held this opinion for a long time, but no more. I am still a church boy at heart, though not as before, because I don’t have a particular church I am committed to now and I am also not ready to leave law practice for the clergy.

This morning, being Sunday, I had already finished church service and was preparing to go to the office when I continued to hear loud music from the church down the street. Subconsciously, I knew that every Sunday, this noise would reach my bedroom, even though I never reacted or complained. However, my wife suddenly suggested we write to the church, requesting they immediately get soundproofing to reduce the noise or find a way around it, as it was becoming too much. It took me a few minutes to process it. I asked myself, to write the church, as a lawyer? I started laughing, but she couldn’t understand what the laughter was about. She argued further that this is a residential area, and it is wrong to have a church disturbing people without soundproofing.

Oh, the church is disturbing? I laughed with the realization that sometimes, even the most devout among us need a little peace and quiet. After all, perspective is everything, and now, I could finally understand what those “troublesome” neighbours had been complaining about all along.

Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq. is a Legal Practitioner and Managing Partner at Law Corridor, Nigeria.

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