Norm (Word For The Week)
A norm is defined as something that is regarded as typical or normal. It is also a rule that is enforced by members of a society.
By this definition, I will propound that there are personal and then societal norms. Personal norm being things that me and you as separate individuals have decided or developed to be our individual way of doing things.
Societal norm will be everything that the collective society has rightly or wrongly accepted to be normal. Some have been widely accepted and backed by the constitution on different levels, while others are accepted on different social levels. From kinship to clan, community, ethnicity, tribe, nation and others.
Your personal norm doesn’t always have to agree with the societal norm, but there are some aspects where for the good of the society, you are expected to conform.
A tribe may historically not eat a particular food item, if a member of that tribe opts to eat that food, as long as no one finds out, there will be no consequence on him. In this day and age, even if other members of the society find out, nothing will still happen to him.
But when a man decides that he wants to marry his daughter or stepdaughter, or two siblings opt to live as a couple and start having children, the society wouldn’t just sit by and let them be. Neither will they come around to rejoice with them.
The fact that you have a right to your personal norm and no one is supposed to judge you for it doesn’t mean you should pick absurdities and immorality as your norm. Neither does it mean people will not judge you.
Societal norms are evolutionary. What was the norm in many societies and cultures in Nigeria and even Europe are now outlawed. In some cases, the laws didn’t change them, people’s behavior towards it just changed so much that the change became the new norm.
Look within yourself at things you need to drop and the ones you need to pick. Don’t wait for someone to try to come and convince or convict you. Judge yourself and change yourself.
Look at your immediate surroundings, people you have influence on, when you see them holding on to the wrong norm, attempt to show them otherwise.
As for legislations that need to be changed, write to members of the legislature, email them, tweet at them, create a pressure group involving like-minded people. Within the legal framework, ask the legislature both at the state and federal levels to change such laws.
We owe it to the generation coming behind us to leave an all-round better society to them, than what we inherited.