Two popular slogans in Lagos read Eko o ni baje o (i.e. Lagos will not spoil) and Keep Lagos Clean. The two are interrelated in that Lagos will not be spoilt if it is kept clean.
To keep Lagos clean, residents have now imbibed the culture of using large wastebins for their rubbish. And it is now common to find refuse disposal vehicles moving from street to street to empty those wastebins in the morning.
While driving through a particular Lagos street a few days ago, I saw one of such wastebins playing host to a special garbage – a large Christmas tree!
From the way the used Christmas tree was forced into the wastebin, it was clear that it had entered into a hot argument with its owner. No doubt, the Christmas tree didn’t want to leave the house, but its owner would not agree. Who needs a Christmas tree in July?
Pity the Christmas tree.
It delights everyone during the yuletide period when it is well decorated and admired by all.
It rises above every other item in the house, and shines with different colour of light to the admiration of the entire household.
We even ask our guests to place their gifts under the tree as if those beautiful presents are meant for the Christmas tree, and not for us.
Sadly, the glory of the Christmas tree is for a while.
A few weeks after Christmas, it is disposed or packed up in an obscure place. Nobody remembers it again until another Christmas.
That’s if another one is not brought into the house to take its place.
But wait a second. Are human beings not treated in a similar manner?
A man marries a pretty lady but, after a while, he begins to feel that his wife is no longer useful so she must either be dumped or replaced.
That beautiful bride of a few years/months ago suddenly becomes a Christmas tree!
How about an employer who does everything humanly possible to attract a great employee? A few years/months down the line, he begins to think that such employee has served his purpose so he must be dropped.
That employee becomes a Christmas tree.
OK, it is vice versa, you may argue. The culprit could be the wife, not the husband; particularly if she finds a richer man.
A talented employee could also dump his employer when his service is most needed.
Maybe the best way to view the issue is to look at who is more vulnerable. At least in this part of the world (Africa), the husband is regarded as having an upper hand, and the employer is seen as being stronger.
Human Christmas trees are everywhere!
Think about that “big man” in your church who is always the chief financier of every project. Let things go wrong with his wealth, he soon becomes the church’s Christmas tree. His sitting position changes and the pastor’s respect for him dwindles.
Christmas trees can also be found in the family. In their shinning days, they would be the ones to choose or change the date for a family meeting. And such meeting will not start until their arrival. Wait to see how they become Christmas trees if, tomorrow, the money is no longer there for them to lavish.
Ordinarily, a Christmas tree may refuse to be dumped but its protest will not yield any result. Its owner wins all the time.
The situation is different for human Christmas trees.
We have the power to protest, and the right to refuse to be used and dumped. That battle; that refusal; that rejection; starts with the way we conduct ourselves when the going is still good – not when things go rough.
As Robert Ringer says in his life-changing book, Looking Out for # 1, “…You have no moral obligation to submit to playing the role of sacrificial lamb whose interests, goals, and happiness are always subordinated to the interests, goals and happiness of everyone with whom you come in contact – particularly those whom you do not count among your friends or loved ones. Trying to please everyone is a well-known formula for unhappiness.”
Your happiness and destiny is in your hand. In the end, it pays to refuse to be treated as a Christmas tree.
That’s how to escape the wastebin, but it can only be understood by the wise.