I’ve been struck over the last few days by a disturbing trend which I guess has been around for who knows how long, but that recent events have brought to the fore. We’ve had the series of riots, the constant road rage that you hear about on the news, but also confrontations that we all experience everyday.
In my world this week I had an incident with my dogs. Our local park has just extended the off leash areas (which are yet to be signed, but I rang and confirmed with the council that it was ok after reading about it in the local rag) and although the doggles are trained and are generally pretty good on recall, if there is a new area to explore they go a bit nuts and are unpredictable. It was an unfortunate combo of circumstances – I met a friend at the park, so I wasn’t quite as attentive, the dogs sniffed at the fence of a property that backs onto the park at its northern endpoint, must have smelt something good as they then proceeded to run into the front of the house (it is right next to the entrance of the park) before I could blink an eye. Then, unusually in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday the side gate of the house was open, argghhh! I called the dogs, hugo took a few moments longer than gemma to come, and he was followed by a very irate man. Totally, fair enough, I can understand why someone would not want strange dogs running into their backyard. I apologized profusely, to no effect and tried to explain that my dogs aren’t used to where they can and can’t go since the off leash area has changed. All I got was a succession of "the street is not off leash"..."my back yard is not off leash"..."they were in my yard"..."they should be on a leash"...etc. Again, I know I was in the wrong, I should have been more careful, but I was reminded of how quick people are to lay blame. This is a situation where one would have a choice as to how to react and how to treat another human that is just trying to do their best.
People everywhere in all sorts of situations love to blame other people and try to make them pay for their wrongs, you could say their humanness! My impression is that somehow people feel better in themselves if someone else is made wrong or even define themselves through the wrongness of others. My opinion is that this growing trend has something to do with the insecurity of the times, in regards to both financial and climatic matters. Faced with crisis people take the route of self preservation resulting in defensive, me first attitudes. It has something to do with anthropocentrism and kronophobia (click on the balls on this page!) and I wonder if this human centered view, teamed with a fear of time and change is at the root of these ugly societal trends.
Like another ranting co-researcher, I also wonder if people are really equipped to be able to work together. Perhaps all we need is to consider fostering compassionate attitudes towards others. When we're in that kind of situation, can we consider the choices we have in how we can act? Can we use our anthropocentric lens to see the humanness of others instead of only ourselves?
p.s. first rant here too, and I am totally guilty of acting in non-compassionate ways myself, of which I am becoming more mindful these days.