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It Could All Be So Simple

The red haze is real. You will pop off sooner or later. Don't care if you are Mandela, Ghandi, or No Drama Obama.

Chidi Afulezi
Chidi Afulezi
3 min read
It Could All Be So Simple
Photo by David Garry / Unsplash
It could all be so simple...but you'd rather make it ha-aaa-aaard.

That is the iconic opener to one of the most iconic R&B songs by one of the most iconic singers ever.

Yes Millenials and GenZs, I said it. Now sing with me:

"Loving like a baaat-tle. And we both end up in sca-aaa-aaars."

Take a three minute break, enjoy the greatness.

Tell me who I have to be-eeee-eee, to get some

Lauryn Hill is in a different space these days. Clearly some difficult times, some self inflicted, after her meteoric rise to superstardom. The hard part was that she got decimated in the tabloids and ridiculed ferociously as she dealt with the dark side of fame in the nascent social media at the time. Everyone had an opinion. The fix. The solution. What she should have done, what she shouldn't do. She's rich and famous, she got money, she got ten kids, she's a Marley, what is she complaining about, why is she acting up? It got quite out of control.

Even Beyonce had to step in when some flash-in-the-spoon barely-made-a-blip teen group made fun of Lauryn's tax problems during the BET Awards in 2012. These bobos, with the epic moniker of Mindless Behavior, drew Bey's disdain so much so that she had to check them when she got on stage to accept her award. Look at these small boys, eh? Can you imagine? She was so pissed off, like play-like play...she could have kukuma gone up there and slapped the hell out of those whoever-the-hell-they-ares.

Ah, Chidi...I see what you did there. Slaps. Award ceremony. Lights, camera, action. Here we go. Another hot take.

No. No hot take. Listen, I am not here to speak on what happened at the Oscars. I am a huge fan of Will, a big fan of Chris Rock, and been rolling with Jada since she essentially stole the show from Lisa Bonet and Jasmine Guy on A Different World (yes, this is a GenX post, we dey here, damn it). I honestly don't see an existential societal issue playing out here. But, know I like the buts...I will say this (in my Naija broken accent): everything no be black and white o. It is not that simple. That is why I don't opinionate (is that a word, where are the Scrabble masters?) directly on these things, at least in public. Most certainly not on social, Whatsapp, anything that can be captured digitally. Mba o, no way.

As in, no way.  

Instead, I lean towards compassion more so than judgement when public figures go off the rails. Of course, many are can tell who those are, no wahala there. Throw them into the dungeons of irrelevance and let's move on.

Sometimes, though, the red haze man. It gets to the best of us. Even No Drama Obama got the red haze every now and then. We've all been there. You are cool, calm, collected one moment...the next you're triggered and popping off, saying (and is not your friend o) some very regretful things, acting out of character, lashing out, going off uncorked. That's the red haze. It's that heat under pressure. It takes over. Come on, don't act like you haven't been there. It is an out of body experience, you literally are watching yourself doing stuff and you can't stop, won't stop. After the fact, you're looking around, blurry eyed and wondering what the hell just happened. In the movies, it is a common (and lazy) trope for a character to say, "I blacked out".  The red haze is a dormant virus in all of us, and the ability to manage it is herculean at best. You will pop off sooner or later. I don't care if you are Mandela, Ghandi, The Chidior Mother Teresa.

You will pop off. Staying cool under sustained pressure is a freaking super-power. Just have to be self and situationally aware enough to minimize the damage and impact. Especially if you are freaking winning. Way ahead. Have the higher ground.


This Cherokee Tale of the Two Wolves that I shared with the MBA Graduating Class of 2019 captures this last point as I leave you be:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Until next. Sing with me:

I keep letting you back in. How can I...explain myseee-elf?