One obvious one that I never mentioned is selfishness.
Sure there are some people that are genuinely selfish who wouldn’t lift a finger to help someone in need because they just don’t care about their fellow man. I believe those people are rare; and sociopaths. But there are some lesser degrees of selfish with a lower case “s” that may apply to quite a few folks.
For example, what about people suffering from extreme shyness? We tend to sympathize with those people. At least I do because I was painfully shy growing up. But if it becomes paralyzing to the point that you are too shy to ask the person next to you if they would like to share your umbrella, then you no longer have any sympathy from me. Your shyness is now causing hardship on people around you. If you are too soft-spoken and self-conscious that you can’t get someone’s attention and tell them they are standing in the wrong line, are waiting at the wrong bus stop, or are about to inject themselves with something that is not their insulin, that’s a problem.
The problem with self-consciousness is you are focusing all your attention on your self. So yes, being shy is a form of selfishness.
Another common form of selfishness is just utter obliviousness. A few months ago I was filming an episode of Hawaii 5-0 (it was Billy’s funeral, look for me at the wake during the reruns). When working as a background actor, you spend about 90% of your time waiting. So with about fifty of us all crammed into a holding area a friendly red-headed actress sat down next to me and said, “So, you’re not on your phone, what would you like to talk about?” I laughed because… well, everyone was staring at their phones.
Society has been focusing more and more inwards. Last week I made a brief list of things that fill up our lives. It’s a vaguely generational list where the baby boomers had their clubs and sports leagues, generation x had their TV, and generation Y has their internet games and smartphones. Notice how each generation has gotten less and less social? Your parents probably ate meals together and had conversations. My generation sat in front of the television during meals and talked during commercials. Today kids have their own individual screens and communicate primarily in chat windows.
It’s not that younger generations are less kindhearted, they are just less trained to look up and out. Most young people would gladly help someone out if they could do it by tweet.
I believe that people are good and kind. I believe that people will perform acts of kindness and service more often if we can shake them out of their iSelf.
So that is the goal of our non-profit organization when we launch. Create a culture of giving and serving by helping people to overcome their fear of lack of reciprocity, their reluctance to receive a blessing because they can’t reciprocate back, their laziness, and their self-centeredness. That seems like a pretty full plate.
How would you tackle some of these issues?