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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Why do good people suffer? A conversation about society by Yaya Sillah

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By Dr Cherno Omar Barry,
President of Writers Association of The Gambia


Why do good people suffer in society? From my childhood, I struggled to understand the common concept held by many people which is that if someone possesses too much good luck they don’t live very long. For a long time I was unable to understand the rationale behind this myth until I had mastered my own intelligence. Here is my theory as to why people who possess extreme good luck usually die at a very young age.

In the most societies, the metaphorical brother of wealth is pressure and the sister is stress. Rich men are regularly under too much pressure and stress: financial pressure, family pressure, legal pressure and administrative pressure. For example, the financial pressure of worrying about paying heavy taxes and other expenses, and the moral pressure of providing adequate infrastructure not only for their own families but their extended families.

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Family pressure means having more than one wife, and always struggling to maintain order between a number of jealous wives living together in one house when each of these women compete against each other.  Some wives might resort to using black magic, for example putting magic potions in the food so that the man loves them more than others. Can you imagine four different women sharing one rich man? Logically for him to reduce the chances of a wife from cheating on him, ideally he should to sexually satisfy each of them every single night. With such a lifestyle what would you expect for him by the age of fifty? A heart attack, period!

Many rich men adopt a very unhealthy lifestyle with an unhealthy diet; too much red meat, too much white rice, too much sugar, and above all a lack of exercise. And they will always use a car rather than walking: all this is a recipe for disaster which comes with a heavy price to pay. Consequently, rich men often die at a very young age because of their life style choice (not as result of curses, bad luck or witchcraft). Thus, in order to avoid suffering for your family, if you become rich you ought to be careful.

It’s a common expression in Europe that ”famous women struggle to reach their fortieth birthday.” Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana are the best example of this. But why do famous women’s lives end so tragically? Is it a curse due to fame and popularity, or is it their lifestyle? In my opinion their suffering is as result of the lifestyle they have chosen.

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Public figures, whether they are men or women, attract much unwanted attention, because the public demand on their fame is huge. In order to maintain their popularity, often they would resort using substance to enhance their confidence and improving their public images. Eventually their life will become unrealistic because it is all about acting and showing off. However, appetite for more fame and more popularity mean famous people have to work harder and harder and that comes hand in hand with health hazards and addiction to illicit substances.

Pressure and stress causes social anxieties, lack of sleep, implosive behaviour, aggression towards others, anger against everyone and bitterness within oneself. That would often encourage people to making wrong choices. The evil behind all this is that society commercialises the beauty of individual people, consequently it becomes a commodity for hungry consumers. People like Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe had to suffer because of this.

Forget about conspiracy theories and tabloid press propaganda. All the controversy surrounding their death is due to public pressure. If you examine the details of Princess Diana’s life, there were many tell-tale signs right from the beginning which indicated that down the line a tragic end was waiting for her. Like many of her contemporaries, Princess Diana’s life became an extreme passion for many people like me who were fascinated with her life. She was extremely naive and innocent but equally she was kind-hearted. Above all she was totally ignorant of the evilness which surrounded every beautiful human. Often dangers are always ahead especially when you are trying show niceness and kindness towards everyone. Yet her life became a symbol of sacrifice for many innocent souls.

Being too generous is not good for you

Now let slightly change the conversation. I used to know someone from Mauritius who was a very generous guy. He worked as a supervisor at the French embassy in the country for many years. Most people working in the embassy at the time would ask thousands of dollars from people as a bribe in order to give them a visa to Europe, which is still a common practice in embassies across the world. But, due to his extreme generosity he used to help people free of charge. Eventually when he retired he migrated with his family to the UK where he encountered many social difficulties and faced economic challenges, one after the other.

Apparently he sought help from people whom he had helped in the past: not even a single person came to his aid when he needed help the most. In the end he became bitter and angry. If he had taken bribes like his colleagues did, by then he would have been a rich man. But his generosity was not rewarded.

People quickly forget about those who stand by them during hardship; it is only a handful of pious people who return kind gestures.

Through my encounters with people like him I learnt that being kind to people is okay but being too generous is risky. Only do it when it is absolutely necessary. For an example, providing a lavish gift to people might make them like you, but they won’t necessarily respect you. They might wonder if you are doing that just to show off or perhaps others would think you are seeking recognition for it. However, in order to earn everlasting respect and goodwill from people you ought to behave like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, which is this; only offer help to people when they are in absolute dire need of it. And give them money only when somebody they ask for it. Don’t worry about the virtue of charity, whenever you are giving something to people make sure those who are benefiting from it know exactly where it is coming from. That way you get respect.

When people know it is you who are pulling the strings, they will respect you. It is only then you earn respect and recognition. Additionally, they would be afraid of offending you. Good people suffer because they think providing help to poor people before they ask for it will make them love you and respect you. That is absolutely wrong. It won’t make any difference at all. Yes, in theory it will make a difference but not in reality. The world doesn’t quit work like that. Michael Jackson and Mike Tyson are the perfect example of this. In my opinion, they used too much politeness. As a result Jackson even shared his bed with strangers, thus in the end people made many kinds of allegations against him until in 2006 he was cleared by the court. And Tyson was deemed as mentally ill by some of his close associates whom he had previously trusted.

In Arab countries, people with wealth earn more respect and they have more recognition for community services than the mainstream rich and famous around the world. Do you know why? Apart from political donations, they won’t easily give anything unless people kneel down in front of them asking like beggars. That is why people respect them and people fear them.

Have you ever heard on Arabian TV, radio, or newspapers in the Middle East, an Arab woman exposing an Arab millionaire for having sex with her? No; you will never see such rubbish in the media. It’s not only that she would worry about the social stigma which is attached to this but people would not entertain such drama against people whom they perceive as nobles.

Causing innocent people to suffer is wrong under any circumstances and equally taking advantage over women because you are powerful is categorically wrong.

In my view transparency and accountability is extremely important but there should be no section of society where people feed on the misfortune of other people’s moral bankruptcy particularly when it involves family reputation. Being rich in Arabia is much more attractive than being rich elsewhere in the world. Apart from political power struggles, usually the rich don’t suffer humiliation like mainstream rich and powerful people living elsewhere.

Good people suffer because they are more obedient to the rule of law than bad people. But of course there are rewards for being good in society. You don’t go to jail!

For example, the border crossings of many countries will keep people out if they have criminal convictions. Australia and Canada are stricter than others. But equally you will struggle to have a citizenship of any country if you fail to pass the good character test in your citizenship application. Yet, in the most countries the basic rules are often harsh on good people. For an instance, some people believed that hard- working people pay heavy taxes in order to maintain a good life for criminals behind bars. And the revenue collected from the tax is used to look after people with criminal convictions because they cannot find jobs. Additionally, if a well behaved driver is caught speeding, he or she would have to face similar consequences as those caught speeding under the influence of alcohol. Again, if you are sober and caught fighting with someone who is under the influence of alcohol most peoples would blame you for your action much more because you are supposed to know better. Thus, beings a good person comes with responsibilities.

This means that good people always ought to be more careful, and they ought to be more responsible because ideally from the law perspective they are supposed to know better all the time. Thus being a good person you are always under pressure and bearing the stress for other people’s lack of intelligence.

If you are a good person, other people will always count on you. Often you will be confronted by moments when you have no choice but to carry the burden for those people who always capitalise on people’s kindness. The negative aspect for being in that position is you don’t usually have influence because you are already perceived to be agreeing with people due to your good demeanour. Furthermore, when people dealing with you, most of them won’t mind hurting your feelings because they expect you are very forgiving. Hence you will struggle to attract a beautiful woman because she would doubt whether you are capable of protecting her in the presence of danger.

As result, some women fancy rough guys more than fancying humble guys, because bad guys wouldn’t hesitate to demonstrate their muscular power to others, in contrast to good guys who are often shy showing off their strengths. Again some women fear rough guys simply because the rough guys have more violent tendencies. She would respect him to ensure he will not be horrible to her in public. Furthermore, she would be kinder and nicer to him.

To illustrate my point, most single women in religious conservative societies like West Africa usually change their dress code to impress men by adopting an Islamic dress including veiling themselves which cover them from head to the rest of her body. And when she finds a genuine husband the majority of them would struggle to maintain such a costume anymore. Usually she would go back and reclaim her old habits. As the English say, old habits die hard. The logic behind this is that, when it comes to marriage ideally most men would prefer religious women or at least someone from a religious background.  Academic qualification is not yet relevant in our society.  Thus clever women would often dress in a religious way in order to impress potential husbands. But, good women who may be naive are ignorant of this fact. That is why they struggle to find a husband and often they suffer in silence.

I will give you an example: boxing is the roughest sport, but whenever there is a contract signing between two boxers, beautiful girls often stand beside each boxer just to show the world who the power and glory really belongs to.

Apart from Mike Tyson, how many heavyweight boxing champions have been dragged to court on allegation of rape or sexual harassment? Almost virtually none because they are rough, and women like rough guys, and some almost worship them. The most feared gangs are bikers and usually bikers are bigger womanisers than the Playboy founder. Yet, women often compete to get their attention. How many times do you see bikers dragged to court on sex allegations? People would not usually mess with rough people because they are more comfortable bringing shame and humiliation on good people. But as I stated before whether you are a biker or not, using power and influence to take advantage of innocent people is wrong under any circumstance!

Author’s note: it’s important to read my points in context. However, while I touched on a sensitive subject, let me bring this to your attention: whether you are a man or a woman, sexual harassment is entirely wrong, and false accusations are equally wrong. In order to avoid suffering for both parties lets behave ourselves all the time and let’s strive to satisfy our ‘me factors’ within the boundaries of the law.  

Pious women often face abuse from a husband just to control her more because she is more tolerant at accepting such abuse without admitting it to anyone. Occasionally outsiders would not notice the presence of domestic violence in her home. The husbands of such pious women have tendencies of cheating on their wives, and believe that if she finds out, she won’t have the stomach to confront him about it. People who capitalise on the kindness of their spouses in the relationship would often cheat and think that it is okay for them to do so.

Mostly you are rated by your demeanour. It assures the other person there will be no consequences for their actions against you. Hence, good wives often became victims. Women suffer in a relationship because they are more forgiving and more trustworthy than their husbands. In the majority of broken marriages which I know about, women usually suffer ten times before they ask for a divorce.

People expect women to always be in a weak position. Such a notion of weak women dominated our entertainment industries. Women playing a weak position in films; frequently seen to be too emotional, or to be the victims of kidnap, and following the strict orders of abusive partners. Good women suffer in the movies because people see them suffer in reality and the entertainment industry extends that culture


Alahaji Yaya Sillah, also known as Yaya—Patchari, was born in Jarra Sutukung Sillah Kunda in the LRR region of The Gambia. He is married with children. Born into a family of religious Muslim conservatives, his views are more liberal and moderate due to much time spent travelling the world. He has completed courses in Creative.

Writing in New Zealand and Australia.

His area of expertise is sociology and spiritual counselling. Through his counselling service, he has inspired many people to become successful in their own right. His first book, published in 2014, was “Marriage and Society’, centred mainly on the essence of marriage and the importance of education. Later that same year, he established his own charity, the Back to School Foundation, which aims to promote education and research in Africa. In 2019 he founded Suba Kunda Publishing to promote African literature in the diaspora.

His philosophy about knowledge is simple: a museum is where you learn the past, a school is where you learn the present, and a library is where you learn the future. His hobbies are praying, reading, writing, research, and travelling. This is his fourth book.

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