Monday, May 19, 2014

The Essence of Lasting Cordial Relations

"We would stay and respond and expand and include and allow and forgive and
 enjoy and evolve and discern and inquire and accept and admit and divulge and
 open and reach out and speak up.

We would share and listen and support and welcome be propelled by passion not
 invest in outcomes, we would breathe and be charmed and amused by difference
 be gentle and make room for every emotion.

 We'd provide forums we'd all speak out we'd all be heard we'd all feel seen."

- Alanis Morissette (Utopia).

A simple act of kindness I extended in late 2005 has, almost a decade later, come back to echo exactly what Somni 451 said in Cloud Atlas:

Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.
One good turn deserves another
On Friday, April 25, I walked into KCB Limuru. It was shortly after 2pm and having just taken a sumptuous lunch (believe me, I totally love food am obsessed with food), I was in really good moods. Actually, it was not the lunch, but rather, my mission at the bank that excited me. I was about to deposit a cheque...
By the way, why is money so overrated? ... I digress.

Ordinarily, I was expecting to access my funds from April 30, 2014. This was however not to be, thanks to various issues that ultimately needed sorting out at KCB Card Center in Nairobi. So I went to Kencom on Friday, May 2, 2014.

Having spent all afternoon (from noon to 5pm) at KCB Moi Avenue, it became clear that a cash transfer was not done on April 30, and a retry at 2pm on Friday was not working. In other words, I wouldn't get my cash until Monday, 5th May. The only options I now had were:
  1.  to transfer funds from my KCB VISA prepaid card into an ordinary KCB account. Unfortunately, I do not hold any other account with KCB.
  2. to transfer the funds into the KCB account of someone trustworthy (not a KCB employee) and then obtain the cash from this person. All I'd have to do was authorize the bank in writing, and the bank would effect the transfer in minutes.
All my siblings have accounts at other banks. I could not immediately pick from my friends, other than a few who work at KCB. I felt stuck. Even desperate, since I needed that cash urgently.

It was then that I made a call that presented my only hope.

When my friend Joe spoke on the other end, I explained that I  needed to urgently transfer some funds into a KCB account. Did he have one? Yes he had, but he could only get the cash to me next day, on Saturday. No problem. So I requested that he text me his account number.

When I later called him, minutes before the transfer to confirm the bank branch, Joe told me it was that same branch (KCB Capitol Hill) I took him to back in 2005, and introduced him by signing the requisite documents for him, being a KCB customer at the time. I couldn't believe it!

A simple act of kindness extended in late 2005 did, almost a decade later, literally save the day that Friday evening. Equally important, two KCB employees and their manager - total strangers to me - had stayed long past office time (on a Friday) to help me get my cash.

Making Amends

Just now, I've seen this photo that Kenyans on Twitter are currently making fun of through #WhatOnyisoDidToAoko:

You see, one of the most important tenets of my adult life is the lengths to which I usually go in a bid to maintaining cordial relations both in my personal and business relationships. At times, it does feel like I am stooping too low. As a man, my ego often stands in the way. It then feels like I'm giving too much of myself or becoming an unnecessary bother to others. But I still unrelentingly seek closure at the end of every relationship, in the firm belief that cordial relationships are for the greater good.
If anything, life is made up of seasons, and what you get out of every season is what matters in the end. I prefer not to leave guilt, resentment, apathy, indifference, anger and regret. Instead, I try the much I can to right wrongs, careful not to burn bridges or make an already bad situation worse in the process.

Living in peace with all persons is important. In both the book of Acts & Romans, Paul is quite clear about how much he values having a clear conscience.

Rom 12:18  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Act 24:16  And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.  

One of my favorite texts, the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book (and yeah, I'm a teetotaler) outlines the 12 steps with making amends (step 8, PDF) being a key pillar of recovery and restoration.
It should however be noted that making amends may not always be necessary (step 9, PDF) and can at times be counter-productive.

Our Need for Others

What many of us often forget is that we we need others. When wronged, we may genuinely feel that the offending party is no longer worthy of our time and/or attention. Needless to say, those who may today seem to be of no use may be your only hope tomorrow. For that reason, I never take people for granted nor judge them harshly based solely on their present circumstances. Or what they've done to me, regardless of how wronged I feel. I am very alive to the fact that people do change. I too, change. How I see things today is not how I'll view the exact same situation after while. And in line with my unfailing belief that things often get better:

Those who seem the least deserving are often the most in need.

Abusing Privilege

Time and again, people continue to fall from grace while others with humble beginnings attain prominence. It is a pity that those with material things often consider those without as lazy, mediocre and as lacking ambition. What many forget is that an irrational fixation on money and riches in itself points to misplaced priorities.
It is for this reason that many people have no second thoughts about trampling down on those who do not have the same fortunes. We forget that tomorrow may be their day to have in plenty and ours to lack and be in desperate need.

All in all, God calls us to shape an uncertain destiny. At the end of relationships, towards the end of life and during times of crises, uncertainty and doubt often prevail. However, hope can carry the day if only we let it. When we are tested, we should refuse to let the journey end. Neither should we turn back nor falter.

In sum, I submit that we should all seek to maintain enduring cordial relations with every person we interact with. Given the times and seasons that make up life, it remains impossible to predict with certainty that someone is no longer of any use and should thus be dispensed with.
After all, those we currently have an advantage over today, may have an even greater advantage tomorrow, even be our only hope at the time. And in cases where further interaction is no longer tenable, it is only fair that endings are not characterized by anger, hatred, burning bridges or breaking bonds that have taken so long to tie.

NB: This post has been inspired by the never-ending kindness of Joe, Peris, Patrick and Alex... men and women of enduring substance who has in recent days showed outstanding maturity and gone beyond the call of duty to bring out more meaning, make a difference and add value in my life in spite of my frailties. I remain eternally indebted to y'all.


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