A behavior that usually happens in areas with many persons in which we look down or seem too busy so that we don’t have to acknowledge the existence of others or look in their direction because we might actually have to say, “Hello.”
At first, we may not actually see the dehumanizing effect that this behavior, we have all accepted as normal, has on each other. But I ask all of us to pause for a moment and consider the fact that human beings, who were made to relate to each other and share life in families, communities, and nations; pass each other in various arenas without acknowledging each other’s presence. What has happened to us?
If we can veer into a different but related topic for a moment and talk about the world of non-verbal communication, one of the things that we teach in classrooms throughout the country is that when the eyes are pointed down and there is a lack of eye contact, this usually is a sign of lacking confidence. When a person moves away from you in some sort of way, that is a sign of being uncomfortable. When a person is on their cell phones with earbuds or “Beats” in their ears, that’s a sign of being present in a different world than the one they are walking in currently. But seriously, just from a communication perspective, what are we communicating about ourselves and the value we place upon others when we do not acknowledge someone’s presence who shares the same space as we do? We are providing a negative portrait of both us and them…and therefore the relational distance between two human beings gets wider.
And maybe we like it that way because I can think of several reasons to be fearful of random interactions with other people. First, the other person may try to hurt or harm me, which is perpetuated in every way possible—especially among young women who find themselves vulnerable in certain situations. Second, maybe I don’t know what to say to other people and think it is awkward to talk to others. Third, I don’t want them to think I am hitting on them or have them think I am creepy for saying, “hello,” and so I choose to not engage.
The flip side of that coin is that every relationship you ever had, beside mom and dad and family, has started out as some sort of interaction, perhaps even awkward, between you and a stranger at the time…even if that other person was a peer. While there is always a threat level to consider, I think most environments that we put ourselves in are safe places to talk, acknowledge someone’s presence, and have some sort of kind interaction. Ironically, I find that the places where young people are the most social also tend to be the places of greatest risk, take for examples the bar or the club…both designed to heighten passions while dulling the senses in a usually dark environment and usually at the end of the day into the nighttime. But I know I’m a fuddy-duddy, middle-aged dad! Speaking of which, I have found the shift from “friendly” to “creepy” to be very interesting in that when I say hello to someone, I have been told that I was friendly and I have been told that my saying hello was creepy…and what I have discovered is that to be friendly in this interestingly disconnecting culture is to endure being possibly considered “creepy” because they are synonymous.
So, how can we save the world one creepy “Hello” at a time? Well, don’t buy into a culture that is increasingly connected through mediations while feeling increasingly alone. Connect to persons that you share space with and teach your kids to power down their devises and power up their conversations. We need to learn to listen to and to dialogue with others. Connection is not just a “Hello” but the insightful questions and conversation that happens afterwards as well. And perhaps the biggest thing I think each of us can do, smile and be friendly with folks. It communicates something about you…it communicates to the other their importance…it restores a connection in the human spirit that needs repaired.
I’m not even going to get started on handshakes, hugs, and fist-bumps…so practice as you see fit!
An expression of self-aggrandizement that makes sure a person knows that they don’t have the experience and expertise that we do and so our contributions matter more than theirs ever will.
Of all the warnings there are about human behavior in the biblical text, I would have to claim that the notion of arrogance, self-aggrandizement, and developing a superiority complex is one of the greatest threats to the mission and will of God. I mean, imagine with me for a second that God’s people actually think that they, and not God’s love for the world, are the real blessing. That they represent a morally superior way of life, and in so doing stop pointing to God as the giver of all good things, but begin pointing to themselves. Imagine that God’s people begin to segregate themselves, or close themselves off from the hurting, the lost, and the one’s who God was trying to bless through them. I mean, imagine a world where the sinner can no longer have access to God through the church and leaders of God’s people would not take the time to associate with sinners…
Unfortunately, we don’t have to imagine. It was the very thing that made Jesus angry as he watched the religious leaders of his time. It was this type of thinking that the Prophets spoke about as the people were exiled. It was this type of thinking that created slave labor and sex industry and we could compile a list so long that it would envelope human history and most of the major tragedies of the world. Even some done in the name of the Lord by sub-sections of Christians, which is devastating to the witness of Christ and the true desire of God.
And while we can look to the past and discern what has taken place there, it is with the present and the future that we should be most concerned. Where are our blind spots? How will our choices today impact the future and what will they claim about us? Especially if we are part of the church. Here are some attitudes of superiority that we need to banish in ourselves and in our church communities:
By definition, a racist is any person who feels that their race is superior to others and behaves through discrimination and prejudice against other people groups. In the United States, we often address this issue in terms of the ongoing relational dissonance between European Americans and African Americans, yet this is only one example of many that exist. I liken the idea of racial superiority to that of high school rivalries in which we are better than they are because we go to _________ high school and they go to _________ high school. While we may have a plethora of similarities and face the same issues, it is the attitude that fuels the competition and it is the behavior that builds walls instead of bridges. To argue that I am better because I am __________ (pick a color or trait)…wastes time, energy, and thought.
2. Mysogyny and Misandry
By definition, a Mysoginist is a male that feels unconfident and insecure, they are usually extremely angered at the fact they cannot get women to do what they want mostly can be known to be linked to paraphilia and are known to develop violent, harassing, or personal behavior to women which can mostly be physical if they get the chance to express themselves about the problem, lots of mysoginists also express themselves by being anti-social…On the other hand, misandists are defined by a hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against men or boys. Misandry can manifest itself in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of men, violence against men, sexual objectification of men, or more broadly, the hatred, fear, anger and contempt of men.
3. The Living Martyr:
The living martyr is a person who thinks they have given up so much for a cause, sacrificed and helped, but they have done so to a point where they forget who they are without the cause or affiliation fixed upon them. This is out of balance because in organizational systems, this person will be unwilling to allow others to do they’re jobs or fulfill their roles because it is a personal attack on the living martyr’s identity and purpose. You might be wondering how I can place this alongside racism and the mysteries up there, and it is because each one of these is based on a premise of arrogance that prohibits another or other people from their purposes. Just like one might their race a false premise, or their gender a false premise, a person can also make their contributions a false premise that blocks community and just like racism or sexism, can cause harm to relationships, organizations, and family systems.
4. The Controller:
Lastly, but not least is a way of being superior by simply being in control. Now, a controller is not a boss or someone hired to do a job. A controller is not an authority figure properly vetted and given a position in an organization or business. Much like the Faux Boss we talked about before, the controller is a person who tries to take charge even though he or she has not been properly given the position they seek. The difference between the Faux-Boss and the controller centers on the attitude that prompts their involvement. The faux-boss is operating under the guise of helping, the controller flat out thinks he or she is more equipped to lead than anyone else at the table of leadership, including the CEO or board of directors. Again, we think about arrogance and the controller is moved to take over because they are either the smartest person in the room or they are the best equipped person in the room to run the organization.
I am reminded of Paul’s letter to the Romans as we think about egos and arrogance and the superiority neurosis. He writes this to the church regarding their own desires to accomplish the work of the church without running over folks or making others feel unnecessary.
“12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.