Friday, November 09, 2007

The Breakdown Of Society (Part II)

The two main ingredients in the formation of society is safety and trust. When early humans encountered another they had two choices, kill the stranger in order to eliminate any chance of being killed or befriend the stranger, in the hopes of strengthening their clan and making their unit safer. Safety in numbers. We carry those same instincts into our interactions today.

A third option has been added to our interactions with strangers in the 21st century and that is to ignore them. Treat them like objects or obstacles. Treating another person in this way is inherently dangerous because you are skipping that initial phase wherein you size up someones potential to be dangerous to you and jump right into the safety and trust phase wherein it is assumed that its safe to be around them. The problem is those "objects" are human beings and may not assume that that you are not a threat to them. These "obstacles" may not be safe and trustworthy and may pose great danger. This is the point where manners and pleasantries come into the equation. At the very least people should use "please", "thank you", "excuse me", "I'm sorry" and "have a nice day". These kind words should be used liberally when dealing with strangers. Why? Because it is at these initial meetings that form the basis of trust and safety. If pleasantries are not used when someones door bumps yours when opening it in a parking lot or spray your leg when cleaning an adjacent piece of workout equipment, then instead of befriending that stranger and bringing them into your clan, you will kill them and that's not good for society, is it? (NRA members, please do not answer that last question, it was rhetorical.)

I was watching a piece on the Today show yesterday in which there was a girl who was suspended from school for hugging a friend. It turns out there are many school districts in this country where hugging has been banned and is grounds for discipline. What happened to "Hugs Not Drugs"? (Would teachers rather the kids were smoking "J's" at lunch?)

The generation (sorry Boomers, but when you ingest every known substance to man in the hopes of enlightenment and now need to read every label so as not to put anything unhealthy into your body I give you one word, HYPOCRISY!) that professed that "All You Need Is Love" is now the generation that equates hugs with bringing drugs to school, destroying school property, hate crimes and fighting, all offences subject to suspension. In the misguided attempt to ensure safety of some students school officials have taken away a key component in the formation of trust and safety.


Whether it be a fist bump, hand shake or a hug, touch has always been utilized as a way to show good faith and trustworthiness. From a young age, as young as 3 or 4, kids know the difference between a "good touch" and a "bad touch". Why can't school administrators, who are between 40 and 65 years old, discern between good touch and bad touch? I am not advocating "humping in the hallways" of our schools or making out in the back of class, but if its a simple hug, whether it be a morning greeting girl to girl, a man-hug between teammates or a tender high school sweet-heart hug at their lockers, then whats the problem? The problem is that administrators and teachers are too busy to make the distinction between the types of "hugs", so make blanket policies to make their jobs easier.

These policies are driving our children further into a vanilla, self-absorbed society where safety and liability is valued over humanity. School administrators and teachers should spend more time on curtailing "bullying" and identifying troubled students if they want to ensure safety and avoid their school becoming the next Columbine. When you send the messages that hugs are bad, you are sending the message that detachment is good. Detachment is what enabled Kip Kinkel, Seung-Hui Cho, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to kill their classmates. If they were in an inclusive atmosphere where they felt valued and loved could they have mowed down their fellow students as if they were "objects"? Maybe. Maybe they needed a hug. When is the last time somebody died from being hugged to death?

Lastly, I was cleaning leaves from my yard last night. In the dim light of dusk I could see the leaves being blown into piles, but could not see the dog shit that was on the edge of my yard where my unthoughtful neighbors let their dogs dump without cleaning it up. I got a clump of it on my sneakers, traipsed into the house down to my basement where I replaced a furnace filter. As I sat crossed legged on my basement floor, trying to maneuver the filter into place I could smell something horrible. At first I thought a leak has developed in the sewer pipe or an animal had crawled into our heating system and died. I then moved my leg and realized that I had dog shit all over my sneakers, pants and basement floor. Gagging, I ran upstairs and cleaned myself up. When I finally stopped heaving I thought about my revenge. Should I drop trou on their driveway and leave them a gift? Should I light a bag of shit on fire on their doorstep and ring their doorbell. I decided that the next time I see their dog going doody in my yard I'll simply say, "Could you please clean up your dogs poop when he goes in my yard? Thank you." After all, I don't want to be a hypocrite.

Oh, I almost forgot. Have a nice day!


Suldog said...

Well, what else can I say, except "AMEN!"

Teresa said...

I was really disturbed to hear about the hugging thing. My little guy loves to get and give hugs--and he does it to teachers, other parents, football team members. I don't want to teach him that he can't do that. He is such a good kid and as long as they are not inappropriate--and they are not-- he should have that freedom.

I still vote for the poop on fire. :)

Kevin Smith said...

I worked for five years in education - during that time I ruined numerous shirts breaking up fights, restraining, and even helping cops cuff students and lead them out of the school. During that time I watched federal and local authorities dumb down our education system. What the government was doing was far more discouraging than anything the kids ever did.

I still work with kids, teaching martial arts to junior high and high school students. The first thing I try to teach them is to always respect others - never to assume that they might know more than the next person, because as far as they know, the next person could know a lot more about fighting than they do, or that the next person could have a gun.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Anali said...

I was really distressed to hear about the hugging issue too. What is this world coming too? All I can say is that these two posts are very much needed in the blogosphere today. Well said and thank you! Have a great week!

bygpowis said...

i taught for a little over a year in NYC and became very mindful of deflecting affection. didn't want to get sued, you know, especially as a young male, around middle school kids, i understood the administration's perview. in the bigger picture of creating better people for a better society, i see your point, but you said it yourself, blanket thinking makes administration a whole lot easier. this is the law. no exceptions for anybody. and it will only get worse in all aspects of life as the world population increases. see it? more people from different parts of the world living and working side by side. no touch. no thought. no exchanging anything that may lead to conflict. get vanilla. all of you. why? b/c it's easier to control you then. the minute someone becomes UN-vanilla, they will be spotted. if flavors abound, there would be UN-vanilla everywhere. too many flavos to administrate... isn't it sad that the more open society has become through law, the more uniform we seem to be making our lives. and your kids and mine will know no different life than that... get flava, folks.

David Sullivan said...

byg: I'm all for conflict! As long as it is not to the point of violence, but if it is understood that by living in this country we can question and disagree, but at the end of the day shake hands and say "see you tomorrow", then society would not be lost. My problem is that we focus on differences, but then segregate, which fosters mistrust and misunderstanding. If we discussed differences frankly and honestly then the powers to be could not exploit rifts between black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, because we would through dialogue find out that as humans we are more alike than different and be more willing to accept differences based on our common understanding of each other.

Thanks for stopping by!