Are we connected or complacent with others?
I had a friend from eastern Europe come live in the U.S. He was grateful to study and work and find love in this country. But he had trouble adjusting to certain things.
One thing he noticed was much of the general public seemed disconnected, almost complacent about others’ issues. In his country, for example, there were few moving companies because if someone moved, the family got together and helped the person move. (This country had its own issues with an unfair government, but the general public were there for each other.)
I see a lot of isolation in this country. If you are sitting at a restaurant, it’s a risk to speak to your neighbor. You may get a smile or you may get a rejection. And neighbors don’t always look out for you.
The Complacent Onlookers
I was working on my computer one day and across the street about 25 people were gathered playing bocce ball. We live on a small street, so the players were close to the road and my yard. In the middle of their game, a car came speeding down our small street, flew over the speed bump, onto my yard, spun around kicking up dirt and clumps of grass. I heard a car stop and the engine rev up again as someone drove back out.
I flew out the door across the street and asked the bocce players for information.
The bocce people looked up at me surprised. No one had information on the car. Few had looked up to see what the commotion 20 yards away from them was, the ones who did, did nothing more than strain their necks.
“What happened,” I asked. “I don’t know,” they all said. Deaf, blind, mute to the world. The person in this car was running fast from something. And tore up my lawn good. There were 25 unaware witnesses.
We are apathetic at times, disconnected from others, afraid to get involved. We are tired of being deceived by the media, politics and advertisements. We are all playing it so safe.
We have become so afraid to express our truth and our true selves. I recently posted just a light poke at what was my truth regarding media and lost followers.
Honest Communication: the Antithesis to Apathy
We can start at home first, perhaps, and work out from there. We need to connect to our own children, spouses and loved ones in a real, authentic way. We need to pull open the doors of our own hearts, risk getting hurt and not run from emotions or pain.
It is these “pain bodies” that Eckhart Tolle talks about that shut us off from the heart and authentic communication. The pain body is like our ego, protecting us and putting up walls to the world and others. We think it protects us from pain, but it shuts out connection to others and can close the heart.
We don’t need to run from pain anymore, but watch it, learn from it. We need to feel it, face it to transcend it.
Raising Our Children to Be Conscious Adults
I like what Dr. Shefali Tsabary said on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday the other day.
“Life is not about happy happy anyway. Engagement to life is ‘happiness.’” She added that if your children are crying about rejection from a friend, they need to learn how to enter the pain and love themselves. Instead, in this culture, we are taught to split from pain which I believe leads to complacency.
The body, mind, emotions get used to closing off, shutting down. This leads to complacency.
Coffee Shop Complacency
Another incident happened in a coffee shop. I was sitting typing a blog post, and I had a sandwich on my table.
As a young man slid in the next bench to sit down, he knocked my sandwich onto the floor. We all heard it, but he said nothing and started talking with his unlucky girlfriend.
“Excuse me,” I said after a few moments of waiting for him to come forward fess-up or apologize, or something. “You pushed my sandwich on the ground.”
“Oh.” Silence for a moment and then, “Sorry.”
I bet 40 years ago this young man would have bought me a sandwich. In 2016, he wouldn’t have even look over unless I had interrupted his conversation and forced him to take notice.
We all need to wake up to kindness and connection a little bit more. We don’t have to be miserable isolationists afraid to give a smile to a stranger or apologize for a mishap.
There is a layer of apathy or complacency over our hearts. Find one way to break through these walls.
It will help others to do the same. Find one person to today to smile at, to let in in traffic, to tip, to say thank you to. Break through the ice and it will begin to melt all around you.
It feels vulnerable. Someone could shame, embarrass, chastise you. But showing up with an open heart is really what the world needs right now. Brave new world, indeed.