I’ve made no secret that I feel it is necessary for me to isolate from the general population because I refuse to live in a drug induced haze. Each time I attempt re-assimilation, I again witness examples that remind me why my isolation is not without factual motivation. I consider it a great blessing that individuals, however, have within them the ability to improve my over-all opinion of the general human population. At a time when I have been most disappointed in humanity, out of the darkness comes this unexpected vision of what the future can be.
I realize that much of the negative behavior I see isn’t directed towards me, or any individual, personally, but is more a matter of the instigator’s self-focus. In the need for self-preservation, adults have become less inclined toward considering their impact on others. For even a casual observer, most adults will be more caring, if not exactly compassionate, when their focus has been directed toward another, but this requires a shift of focus.
The economy being what it is, it seems much more common for adults to hold their sensitivity close to them in favor of beating out the other person. For some of these adults the motivation is taking proper care of their families, but there are some who are strictly out to beat any and all competition. With a great deal of observation and investigation, these types of individuals may be identifiable as different, but on an average day, there appears to be no difference in motivation; all we see is how someone at work was unkind to someone else in order to achieve the promotion. Any kind of competition usually draws out the worst in humans.
Maybe this is not so surprising. As humans develop, they first understand this existence in terms of themselves. Years of pre-school teaching and personal research into the functions of the brain and the effects of culture has helped me understand common developmental patterns. Selfishness, like blinking, is part of our genetic make-up. If you are a human, you have had to pass through understanding of self before you interacted with the world. It is not until we become toddlers that most of us begin to exhibit awareness of the needs of others. Babies often cry when someone else is crying, but they don’t know why. A toddler may become sad at the tears of another, but will try to resolve the sadness, often by sharing toys or becoming physically affectionate.
As a child continues to develop they enter a critical stage of social interaction. Between the toddler years and Kindergarten (what we usually call pre-school age) an individual develops the social skills they will take with them. (Social skills can be affected before this period, just as other forms of development can be. Here we are discussing the “norm” not the exceptions.) They have progressed from the two year old’s position of playing side-by-side but not interacting, to learning cooperative play. Their focus has begun to shift form the self, to continually increasing explorations of the outside world, including other people.
But we are human and, even as we adjust to sharing and being kind when we don’t feel like it, we also have a significant sense of self that is nurtured by American society. Even the most generous share-ers have moments of desire that are difficult to over come. Playing a game may be fun, but the winner still has more fun. With the exposure to sports, American Idol and other highly competitive events, we culture our children to place a high value on the win.
This is why I am often surprised when a child agrees that the game was so much fun we should play it again-even though they didn’t win. I simply expect sulkiness at the least because that is what I have been cultured to expect. Lately, however, I have opened my eyes to new possibilities. I see young people going out of their way for the sake of another. I see compassion in the face of competition, and I see the winners who may never get a medal, and I wonder if they know what they have done:
Inspired hope for a future of tolerance and compassion. They have taken a moment of disappointment and sorrow and directed it toward respect and hope. Even as I hear the news anchor describe yet another youth involved shooting, I can see that there are others seeking alternative answers to what seems to be necessary. It is possible to excel and encourage your competition. I would be most please if I did not have to wait for the adults of the world to catch up with the compassionate youth of today, but I know that I only need to encourage others today, to know that the world will be better tomorrow. Thank you Cory for setting such an excellent example for the whole world!