Friday, May 29, 2009

Becoming the 'whatever' answer

More than I have experienced in other places in have either visited or lived, the people here in the Springfield area seem the most detached from other people around them.   I think that may be the root of other experiences that I've had here as well.  Perhaps it is this detached social phenomena that causes people to do things like a friend of mine spoke about at church in his message saying that he lived in Chicago for three years and never experienced the volume of bad drivers that are in the Springfield area.  He mentioned that it seems to him that those drivers just can't seemed to acknowledge that they are not the only one on the road.

And that experience is what I've been party to in numerous other situations...at work...at the grocer...at the department store...at churches...trying to befriend people...etc.  People are disconnected and they, in general, seem to not realize that the world isn't just about them.

The more unusual feature of this is that when people are in a position to have to give a hoot about someone other than primarily themselves in a genuine way, up comes the 'whatever' notion.  This 'whatever' notion is that people quickly try to distance themselves from whatever issue required of them to reconnect with those around them in a personal and genuine way, or in that they attempt to pass the need for concern about it off as if being concerned or personally invested in another person is distasteful.

To give a couple examples, I know one person here who is pretty talkative and likes to share with you, as long as you stand in agreement to what they are stating.  If you disagree...there is no discussion...there is no debate...there is no mutual sharing of ideas to weigh them all out.  The talking is merely over because to them there is apparently only one important opinion or perspective (their own), and no real peace without disconnecting.

Another example is a person I know who is generally neglectful and withdrawn.  We have a wonderful time together when we get together, laugh about things, relate to each other well and with understanding, and they have shared details about their life with me that are sensitive issues.  However, outside of my calling them with a perspective activity, like going out for a meal or game, they don't seem to want anything to do with me.  If confronted about this the 'whatever' answer comes quickly...even if there is merely an asking and not any accusations.

So, how does this affect people in the area?  I wager that people largely either become very used to this experience and do one of three things with it:  1. they adopt this social tendency as well, 2. they conduct life as they did before and stop 'noticing' this tendency in people, or 3. they withdrawal to no be party to it.   I give three possibilities because I think that most people would fall in this range.  There is clearly at least one other possibility though:  that people become patiently tenacious in their relationships and attempt to gently convince people there is another way.

Let me encourage those who are here in the Springfield area, and those who experience the same elsewhere in the world, that looking out for #1 is not the modus operandi of everyone.  There are those of us who don't wish to play the societal game of not caring about the world or each other.  We don't find any strength in being self-centered or grossly self-sufficient.  Granted there is a strong draw to also give the 'whatever' answer in the face of those people who don't care.  But I encourage you to resist that and don't also become the embodiment of the 'whatever'.