Friday, February 21, 2014

Reckless Stupidity, Endangerment, and Social Interaction

People are reckless, people are stupid, and people endanger themselves. That bothers me a little, but ya know what really bothers me? When people endanger those around them, and then don't care.

When you suddenly cut someone off on the freeway, guess what you're doing, you're placing yourself in danger. One could argue that to place yourself in danger is your right. Fine, risk your own neck. But do you really have the right to risk the neck of the woman driving the other car? Or perhaps the five children she has with her?

If you have a family, do you really have the right to risk your own neck? I mean, its no longer really your neck to risk now is it? Once you sign up to be a husband, wife or parent, you are effectively signing away any room for your own , and embracing the betterment of your family.

And that's a wonderful thing, to devote yourself to something greater than just yourself. Having a family means making a lasting positive change and difference in the way your community works. People generally assume that power to change things rests with the wealthy, the rich, the politicians, celebrities, anybody who is greatly publicized.

Fortunately  people are wrong. A change in society is driven by the individuals who make up the society. Those publicized elite make up only a tiny part of the society; what changes society are the choices we make every single day

If you choose to cut someone off on the freeway, you are choosing to place yourself above the safety of those around you, and the security of your loved ones. You are choosing to place your own business above the smooth and considerate operation of the society around you. A society that is built by your very existence as a human being. 

Perhaps more innocently, you see people walk through parking lots and across streets without watching for oncoming traffic. This is madness in several parts:
  1. It turns the road or parking lot into a zoo, wasting everybody's time
  2. It places unnecessary stress on the driver who narrowly avoids hitting you, possibly even ruining their day.
  3. It risks the time of everyone on that stretch of pavement; if an accident occurs you've just caused several people to blow their entire morning, afternoon, or potentially their entire day. Not to mention the madness they'll have to deal with regarding insurance and the law.
  4. It completely disregards any concern for the well being of anyone who depends on your existence. 
  5. It demonstrates a complete lack of concern for the politeness of general social interaction.

Lets look at point 4: Disregard for the well being of those who depend upon your existence. That's a pretty big deal isn't it. If your best friend died tomorrow how upside-down would your life suddenly be? Even if there is nobody who has a physical dependence upon you, people rely on each other for emotional stability.

I can think of several people who my life would be drastically different without, and not at all for the better. I'd be a mess. And that's what you're doing every time you place yourself in danger: risking the complete emotional well being of at least one other person for your own convenience.

Now I'm no expert, but that seems like a pretty messed up and selfish way to live. 

But lets go back to point # 5: a lack of care for society's standards of social interaction. This is perhaps an even bigger deal; social interaction, both with friends and strangers, is the basis for human existence. Without social interaction, there would be no society.

In most social interactions we are presented with some sort of choice: to be annoyed or cooperative, to be polite or rude, to be helpful or snotty, or some variation thereof. Imagine if every time you spoke to anyone, friend, family, or stranger, they decided to be rude to you, disrespecting even your right to occupy space. It'd be terrible wouldn't it? Nobody would survive a day of that with any self respect or self worth. Life wouldn't be worth living anymore right?

Now realize that every time you flip someone off, swear at someone, or even give someone a dirty look, you are lowering the social standard.  Not some celebrity on TV, not a politician, not a televangelist, but you: the individual who makes society social. 

By being unpleasant, rude, crude, or otherwise impolite or indecent, you are telling your peers, your children, and your elders that disrespect and disregard are acceptable ways to interact with each you, and others. 

Now contrast this: Imagine having the pleasure of a day filled with casual compliments, friendly smiles, pleases and thank you's, common courtesy from every person you had to talk to or walk past during the day. It'd be a pretty sweet day wouldn't it? If your ego wasn't already gargantuan it soon would be. Life would become a pretty ideal reality wouldn't it?

Just as negative, rude interaction lowers the social standard; positive, polite and friendly interaction raises it to a far more pleasant and enjoyable place. By being kind to others, you are expressing that kindness is the way you believe people should treat each other. And even without thinking about it, people want to be accepted, and to fit in with those they interact with. Being kind encourages others to be kind as well. 

So next time you walk through a parking lot, or are about to miss your exit, remember that life isn't just about you, and that by making it so, you end up making life a less pleasant experience for everyone, yourself included.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please Comment!