Monday, April 20, 2009

On Human Diversity

"What's wrong with these people?" I didn't have an answer for her. Normally I'd have a problem with complaints. What's the point in trying to elicit sympathy for a situation you're either unwilling or unable to change? I try not to indulge people in their complaining, but this may not have been a complaint, but truly an inquiry. Sometimes people act in ways that are perplexing. I believe in the basic goodness of people. I trust people. I sometimes wonder why because everyday I'm faced with overwhelming evidence that I'm wrong. I keep getting confounded by the absurdity of people. I instantly recognize the judgement in my thinking, but still what's up with these people? They're everywhere. They look and act like normal people. They hold down jobs raise families, have friends, cars, and lives, but when you talk to them you realize they might as well be from another planet. Sometimes it's even destructive, but because I such a peacemaker it seem like I only perpetuate the problem.

The particular situation involved my mother and her students. She can't get them to behave in class and when she called their parents she's confronted with such hostility that she's better off dealing with the children. We had discussed it before she'd said that it "shouldn't have to be is hard", but having no real knowledge of the way the world "should" be we can only speak of the way we wish it was. She has surrendered to the situation, come to terms with he fact that the young people she teaches now aren't going to be as respectful the students she had when she started her career. Times have changed and not all those changes were for the better. She now wants to know why. Why are these people so messed up? How is it that they get through life so uninhibited as to think their behavior is acceptable? By not confronting the parrents does she in some way bare responsibility for accepting it ?

I ran into this phenomenon at work. A coworker and I seen around. We exchange friendly nods and hellos. One day we actually spoke. I couldn't tell if she was flirting. I think she was. The conversation was pleasant enough. She asked me if I was married. It made me feel old because I realized that is wasn't a ridiculous question. Then she asked, "How many kids do you have?" I told her I had none. She said, "I'm sure you've got one or two running around somewhere" She thought it would have been a normal thing for me to have several kids with a few former girlfriends and she went on to tell me about her kids each from different fathers. Further conversation revealed that she and baby daddy were still friends. When she used the term baby daddy it almost floored me. Most of the time I hear there term used in jest or jokingly but here this was a no joke. And I realized she and I had a totally different ideas of what normal was. And it occurred to me in order for her to believe this was normal she'd have to be stupid, which she was not, or live in a world where this was normal, talking to people, living with people who shared she worldview. And of course she must have never been confronted by anyone who didn't world view or at least not enough time in order for her to question it.

Some people just have different standards than we do. I don;t mean to sound elitist, I'm not. It's not something that I'm judging. I am just observing. It's like there is a parallel reality all around us. People with a whole other set of norms and a whole different way off viewing the world. What's interesting about it is that it's difficult to challenge a world view that may be destructive. If I were to have put my coworker on blast for the assumption she'd made about me what good would that have done? It may have given her a value that she was living in a parallel reality, but it would have been quite unlikely to make much of a difference. In a way I was a facilitator of her destructive behavior. By not challenging it I was accepting it. So what's a socially conscience upstanding person to do? Honestly I'm not sure.

Everyone is different for a reason. I may not understand those reasons. I know that in many cases I feel the way my mother does and what to change people, but now I slow down and think about it first before I trying to remake people in my image. I have come to accept that many people are in their own stage of development, that everyone no matter how inconvenient they may be, serve their role to making things in this world work. Human diversity is a good thing even if it isn't always good on an individual level. They serve to teach me patience and the importance or education and good parenting. They sever a contrast against which the good of the people I do associate with can shine. And these may not even been the real reason for that difference, that I may never fully understand. But I do hope to grow in my understanding.
Post a Comment