Yesterday, I commented to a friend that I thought the world was in serious trouble. My thought goes beyond the obvious online nastiness, political polarization, and age old battle of haves and have nots. It comes down to seeing disdain from fellow human beings in everyday actions… every day.
When you are full of disdain you think something, or someone, is not worthy of your consideration (Oxford Languages, 2021). How and when have we arrived at this point? My example of disdain comes from a simple shopping trip. When leaving the parking lot, driving on the thoroughfare in front of the strip mall stores, three middle aged women started to cross the street. I slowed, they had the right of way. But, it was the look – the look of disdain – as they glanced my way, saw my slowly approaching car and looked away, continuing to walk, however still slowly, to their car as though me and my car were not even visible.
Disdain is shown when driving and by those merging into traffic who fail to heed to the drivers already on the highway. Disdain is shown when drivers fail to move to the left to allow merging traffic. Disdain is shown when you are driving the speed limit and another driver is tailgating you so closely that no room exists for accidents.
I see it everywhere.
You can see it in online groups, like my gardening group where fellow gardeners and naturalists feel free to jump in and correct something that is not even wrongly stated. It’s done to show their knowledge, superiority, and yield power over fellow posters.
Disdain is shown in the collective lack of respect for law enforcement, teachers, nurses, and doctors. It is shown in the lack of following rules, to mask your face in a store where it’s required, to sanitize your hands, and to socially distance. The result of disdain can be seen in the still climbing numbers of COVID infection and areas with low vaccination rates.
Disdain says, “me first.”
Disdain says, “I count and you don’t.”
Disdain says, “I have contempt for you, and your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.”
I do not know where, when, or how disdain for other humans – truly people like us, with thoughts, feelings, and value systems started. I do think that the 24/7 media cycles, the breathless broadcasters sensationalizing and editorializing stories, and the ability to make social media posts in the heat of the moment as well as for days afterward have all contributed to the disdain that we have for other humans.
Sadly, as I told my friend yesterday, I don’t know how to fix this and am not even sure it is fixable. But, I have a few suggestions.
- Think about your fellow humans – yes, even those with different belief systems.
- When you cross a street or parking lot, if a driver is waiting for you – acknowledge them with a smile or wave and then hurry on your way.
- Do not meander cross-wise.
- Do not walk in the middle of the parking lot rows – walk to the side – one side or the other.
- Perform an act of kindness – daily. For example, let someone in front of you who has a less full grocery cart.
- Complain less – make a conscious effort to do so.
- Remember the pleasantries of being a polite human – say please and thank you. Pay someone an unexpected compliment. Hold the door open for the next person.
- Tune out the news or at least try to find a less breathless, sensationalistic and biased source.
- Think for yourself, do not let society tell you what to think.
- Decrease any time spent on social media. And, think before you post, correct someone else, or publicly deride anyone. Ask yourself, are you as willing to listen to their argument as much as you think they should be willing to listen to yours?
Please think about this. Have less disdain for your fellow human. Please. Show your fellow man/woman more consideration and less contempt. Please.