The “It is well” generation

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It Is Well - The statement Nigerians make when they find themselves helpless, or just looking for ways to escape responsibilities, or find excuse for laziness or inactivity.

First let us establish where this statement that has now become a virus in our Nigerian vocabulary, came from.

It all started when the son of a Shunemite woman, whom Elisha was the prophet behind his existence, died. On seeing that her son had died, she did not say anything, but started riding straight to prophet’s abode. Whenever anyone asked her what was wrong with her, seeing she looked so agitated, she always said All is well.

It was none other than Horatio Gates Spafford who brought this ‘It is well’ phrase mainstream, when he wrote the famous hymn, ‘It is well with my soul’, after losing all his children in a shipwreck. He wrote the hymn when he passed the spot his children died, on the way to meet his wife who had survived the wreck.

The Shunemite woman used this sentence to keep herself from speaking negatively about her situation, despite the fact that everything she saw around her told her it was over. Horatio Gates Spafford used it as a source of encouragement, after suffering what can be called a major loss in this life, believing that all things work together for his good, in the end.

It is thus funny when we use this phrase as an excuse for our laziness, and our preference to do nothing about our situation, a phenomenon which can be particularly attributed to this generation of Nigerians.

When our government collects taxes, yet we sit down and provide all the amenities we already paid for, for ourselves, we lie down on our bed, and say, it is well. We must remember that before the Chibok Girls were kidnapped, Boko Haram had gone to a secondary school, and gunned down about 40 boys. What did we do? We smiled and said it is well. Politicians are robbing us clean, taking our commonwealth, and stocking it up for their children. But as long as we can be friends with those children, and receive our own share, then it is well. Even if we cannot receive our share, it is still well. At least, we can still afford to put food on our table.

People like Femi Otedola and Farouk Lawan can openly steal, slap over 170 million Nigerians in the face, walk freely in the land, knowing nothing will happen, because it is well. Let him cruise his gigantic black and silver boat jare, it is well. At least, I can still drive my 1992 camry.

Frankly speaking? Is it well with me in the midst of the storm? Yes, it is. Is it well with me when I lose everything that matters with me? Yes it is. But…

Let’s be objective a bit, when the Shunemite woman said it is well, what was she doing? She was on her way to meet the prophet, to tell him to find a solution to her dead son, because she never asked him for a son in the first place. Now that he gave her a son, why should he not live a full life? She did not sit by the bedside of the dead son, wailing “All is well.” Her “All is well” was backed up with corresponding actions. She was not lazy, she put her actions where her mouth was.

Should we say it is well when it comes to Nigeria? Well, I will not answer the question for you. But one thing I will say is this. If you ever say it is well, make sure you are actually doing something to make it well, because the people that are making it unwell are doing something. They are planning, strategizing, and putting things together to make sure it would not be well with Nigeria. This is not the time for us to fold our hands, run to church and pray for personal breakthroughs and the latest range rover. If we keep up with that, one day, there might be no bridge for us to drive that range rover on. Of what use is prosperity in the midst of chaos?

The problem with our generation is that we have become complacent, more selfish as the day goes, and social media has not even made it better. It is easier for us to sit down, snap pictures, create hash tags which the people that matter would never see, than actually do something, because that is what is in vogue now. After all celebs all over the world are doing it, why don’t we?

It is now cooler to design DPs, and upload than to go out to do something, the DP being a reaction to something that had already taken place, and not proactivity to prevent something from taking place.
Let me shock you, the people causing the chaos are not doing it via social media. They are not using hash tags or humorous DPs. They are actually in the real world doing things. Why on earth do we think we are going to be able to spark change by being social media parrots?

What the social media does is that it creates awareness, it sheds light on issues that would have been otherwise obscure.

The question is after the awareness-creation, what next? After you have gained knowledge, how have you applied it? How have you solved the problem social media exposed to you?

This social media rants, while excessively loud, is not exactly effective, because it has become akin to preachers preaching to the choir, while the sinners lay waste in whore houses. So it gives us the illusion that we are actually doing something, when all we are doing is spitting e-saliva all over the place, while our country runs down.

This it is well culture we have imbibed in so many aspects of our lives is what has followed us to the way we deal with many things in our country.

Husband batters wife. Parents say “you must not leave him. We went through it. Stay there, it is well.”

Uncle rapes niece. Family says “we can’t report this o. it will bring disgrace to the family. Let’s bury it. It is well.”

Yes, we know it is well. You don’t need to tell me, my bible already told me. The question is, what are we going to do about what it is well about? Are we going to save our daughter from dying in the hands of her lion-in-form-of-a-man husband? Are we going to help our niece recover from her traumatic experience, and teach her to learn to trust again? Are we going to rise up and save our country from going down in runs? What exactly are we going to do?

We have become the ‘it is well’ generation. Passively sailing through life, waiting to be victims of circumstances, soaking up whatever sucking thing life throws at us, like a mattress that can never have enough, and yet never getting to saturation point.

The question is when we will stop saying ‘it is well’, and do something about it? When will something gruelling happen, and I won’t see a response on Facebook saying “it is because we have sinned in Nigeria, and should learn to live holy?”

When will we understand that we actually have the right to question our government? We appointed them, and so we can talk to them. This is not the military regime, so let’s drop the mentality of not being able to ask questions. Don’t be over-religious, and afraid to question the government, saying we cannot rebel against the authority God placed over us. Questioning a democratically-elected government, and making them accountable is not rebellion, it is your responsibility. Anything else is laziness. After all, these are your resources, and you appointed them to oversee its use. Let’s not hide our irresponsibility behind religion.

If we fold our hands, and sit at home, saying “it is well.” One day, you might step out of what used to be the four walls of your house, and ask yourself “is it really well?”

So, I welcome you to the “it is well” generation, the generation where intelligent Nigerians have resorted to replacing common sense and proactivity with inertia, in order to mask their laziness and mere lack of willingness to do something about their situation, as long as it doesn’t affect them directly.

After all said, it is well, my brothers and sisters.

N.B: The funniest thing is I wrote an 'It is well' post two years ago. I said some things then, and pointed out our reactiveness. Now, it is worse. I hope I won't have to write something like this again two years from now. You can check the post out here

30 comments

  1. I almost detest the phrase because of how Nigerians use it. Yeah, I said it.

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  2. When I tell you something and you reply with it is well, I change the topic. Your write up is so true and you are a good writer. Read your post on Almond oil on beauty geek. Your blog is nice. I followed you on gfc.
    www.realcilverly.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for your comment. Though I never wrote any post on beauty geek. Will check you out.

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  3. I DO NOT like the "It is well" fad AT ALL!! Very well said!!

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  4. I am with Bertry on this one - I almos dislike the phrase "It is Well". I think the meaning has been lost and it is unfortunately used to cover up inadequacies or as a conversation 'filler' (particularly when you don't have a good response lol)

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    Replies
    1. Exactly. People just use it when they don't have anything to say.

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  5. I honestly hate to hear it too. It just sounds a lot like: Shut it up. it could be worse.

    I know it could be worse, does that mean i should accept it every time? NO

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  6. I think the problem is that most people where born into the "it is well" generation. They don't know anything else....we where taught never to question parents, so how do you want to question the government, we were taught to keep quiet when adults are talking, not to have an opinion and caged into a stereotyped lifestyle.....I could go on but the task falls on us to ensure that we wean ourselves from the fad we were fed and allow our mind to wonder beyond the phrase " it is well"

    The church also played a role in where we are now, you are not allowed to have a different opinion from your pastor or church otherwise you are termed a rebel...the society is just a reflection of several individuals who make it up....it is well...lol

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    Replies
    1. Love your take on it. Didn't think of it that way, but you are perfectly right. Thankfully, I don't mind being a rebel at all.

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    2. Sykik! This was the first thought that came to me as I read....the siddon-look was ingrained into our upbringing.
      History taught me that, survivors of any revolution paid a mighty price for it, WHO IS READY TO PAY SUCH PRICE? Who amongst us here commenting is ready to go and face the GOLIATH of our time?
      Oh! Is it Miss labaja that is yet to complete her master studies?
      Oh! Is it Mr labaja that just got his dream job?
      I ask, because it is like casting ones pearls before swines, THEY WOULD STRAMPLE ON IT!

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  7. Our siddon look attitude and it is well attitudes irritates me all the time...I wish we will all stop been complacent and get out butt up to save this nation.

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    1. Hmm. I wish so too. When will we rise?

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  8. Sadly,this is what we are,ABUSERS! It's not just that phrase we abuse,we abuse lots of them.I like the phrase,i use the phrase,but i'd very much like people to use the phrase when it is necessary.You can't sit back,do nothing about a situation,say these words and expect the situation to change itself.What we need to do is stop being lazy!

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    Replies
    1. What A-9ja-Great said......#cosign

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  9. Funny, like you, I have written about this before and I think it is in my 2009 DDNW. I say 'It is well' too and must confess there was a time when I said it almost mindlessly to comfort someone or myself. Until I realised it meant nothing UNLESS I could complete the sentence by saying WHY it is well. Something based on God's promises to be out of the scriptures. So now, if I ever say 'It is well' to you, I will also tell you why. But if I don't .....feel free to roll your eyes and ignore me *smiling*.

    But like many have said, faith without works is dead. As we declare positively, we must also act.

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  10. "It is well o". There's an erroneous believe that the phrase depicts unshakeable faith in things turning out well. Even the bible itself says: 'faith without work is dead'. I do no however, share the opinion that everyone who uses this phrase is lethargic and inert. It is a societal attitude that has been inculcated into our subconsciousness and so even when we are taking progressive actions, we say 'my brother, it is well'. And for those who sit back and stand on the shaky foundation of 'it is well', they soon find out it's a delusion. All is indeed not well.

    As for the social media and those who refuse to question government's policy, a quick peruse of the so-called activist organizations show that a large number of them are insincerely chanting and ranting to get public attention or satisfy hidden personal interests. They are no better than those who sit back believing some groups are fighting for their rights.

    I opine that like the shunamite woman, we should take our destiny into our hands and whether it is actually well or we find ourselves at the depth of the well, we should keep moving, adding value to our lives and the lives of people around us.

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  11. Well said...it is perfectly OK to use "it is well" in circumstances that are beyond our control like the examples above...

    However in the Nigerian scenario most of the things we say "it is well" to seem like things we have control over but majority of us have given up our collective control instead we thrive on individual control which usually does not amount to much...

    It is now our duty to re-educate someone today about the change which we urgently need...by change I mean collectively because like they say "in unity lies our strength"...we lack that unity currently...

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  12. An interesting piece.

    Malala, the Pakistani survivor girl is in Nigeria and was in a photograph with GEJ and her own father on the front page of the Nigerian Guardian newspaper. A Pakistani colleague, glanced at it and sneered muttering the word "Disgraceful". I looked at him and asked why he said that and an avalanche of bile spewed out from his mouth. Basically his view was she and her father were a disgrace. He was an infidel capitalising on his daughter's fame. She was a disgrace for not being a good Pakistani girl, staying home and shutting up. After all, was she the only one?

    What's my point? The default position for the vast majority of people (myself included) is 'siddon look', it is well and with more technology available these days, dp posters and eloquent bloggers. All are the same. Let's not be too hard on ourselves . Nobody wants to actually DO anything or even support those that do, with funding or anything tangible. Every now and then a Mandela or a Malala rises up and actually DOES something against the oppression. Nigeria has no such person, so whether you have a personal preference or abhorrence for the term "it is well", heck it don't matter, because your lack of real action is more than sufficient to speak louder than a trillion 'it is wells'.

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  13. "The Shunemite woman used this sentence to keep herself from speaking negatively about her situation" - Amen! I know that is not the point of this post but I think that line has just ministered to me on a new faith level! So thanks for that!

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  14. Honestly I have been thinking about it for a while... even here in the USA it's same with naija folks.. i thought when I moved back here for my masters it would be different..

    People see me as a pessimist or negative minded individual when I tell them "how is this "it is well" related to what we are talking about?

    I see it as the new way to end conversations from the overused "LOL"..

    Since we have been saying it is well, has it been well with Nigeria? Or the people saying it, has their lives seen a drastic improvement? Even d Jews that developed the bible don't say it at all

    It is well... I see it as a numb and dumb answer to give when you don't have a proper answer to give...

    I just think it goes to show our over reliance on religion... or mental laziness as I call it on my blog www.adroitblog.wordpress.com

    Nice write up Lola.. well done

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  15. I actually left a comment on this post but I guess it didn't reflect and Madam Hattylola subbed me on Twitter. Lol.

    I have a cousin whose ultimate pet peeve is hearing "it is well". He says it is indicative of lazy minds with zero ideas. I agree. But there is a prevalent helplessness in the air these days. People say it is well because they have no inkling of how to actually make it well, so verbally projecting the sentiment would have to suffice...afterall we have been told that there is power in our tongues. Lol. But if we are honest, most of us do not even know where to begin to tackle the decay in our society. Till we figure it out and get proactive or until it overwhelms us (whichever comes first) I think we should get ready to hear a lot more 'it is well's

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  16. Blessings.....
    The thing about life is we all have CHOICE hence we can choose to do nothing even fail to be accountable.

    peace.
    Rhapsody
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  17. Ok! I can comment now;
    A well-written post Lola.

    The church, yes, the CHURCH, imbibed it-is-well-attitude in Nigerians! 'Confess POSITIVELY about every situation in our lives', so I was taught both in Sunday school and from the pulpit! Anything from that shows lack of faith!

    The society, yes the SOCIETY has imbibed the do-not-speak-back-to-your-elders-culture in us! When I cannot confront my own parents, uncles, aunties, elders and in-laws, then HOW CAN I CONFRONT THE LEADERS OF A COUNTRY? # who give me liver chop?#

    OH! Yes! The Sunnite woman was CONFIDENT that, the prophet would raise up her son, since he was the one that wrought such miracle in her life in the first place. Hence, she RAN quickly to meet him and didn't have time to dilly-dally with concerned neighbours who asked her what the problem was from her countenance. Do I have such CONFIDENCE in the leaders of my country?
    I DON'T! Why? Because of their I-ME-MYSELF-MY FAMILY-UNBORN GENERATION-MENTALITY!!!!!

    How best is to keep the masses on a leash? DEPRIVE THEM! Because, a hungry man has no strength to fight! He says it is well, so as to be left alone to scramble and scourge for the crumbs that falls from the masters' table to feed himself.

    More-over, people say it is well because everybody have his/her own issue to deal with and they don't want to be burdened with another person's tales of woe or lamentation, because they would be expected to help out in one way or the other. It's like when you ask me Lola,' New dawn, how is everything? And I replied with a tirade of complaints, sincerely speaking, what would be your first reaction? Well, my own reaction would be;' Which kain gbege I don enter with this simple rhetorical question I ask ehn!,

    So Lola dear, It is well with Nigeria and my fellow country men.
    Audible sigh! #adjust apoti, adopt siddon-dey- look-posture#

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