Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Life Lessons From an Amusement Park, Part II

Yesterday, I posted about the consideration, or lack thereof, of people within amusement parks, particularly when it comes to slower moving people.  I hadn’t even mentioned that there are also elderly people within these parks that need to be treated respectfully and considered in their maneuvering through the parks.  I mentioned a trip to Disney that my wife and I took seven years ago and when we went, one of my theories had been the idea of creating specific thoroughfares within the park for different speeds of travel, sort of like what’s supposed to happen on our highways.  The right lane is for slower moving traffic, the middle lane is for traveling at a normal or moderate pace, and the left lane is for faster travelers or those who are passing the ones in the middle or right lane.  Of course, we all know how that doesn’t easily translate from paper to reality.  Today, I want to talk about another thing to consider, in amusement parks and in life: how we talk, how we act, and how we dress. 

If you want to see a great display of PDA (Public Display of Affection) just go to an amusement park.  People somehow find that waiting in lines for rides somehow gives them the freedom and right to engage in intimate activities with their significant others.  This hasn’t changed in years.  When I was a teenager, I remember going to Action Park in New Jersey and experiencing the same thing, potentially even partaking in this kind of behavior.

I’m not a psychologist, but I’ve studied emotional health enough to know that there are certain things that indicate positive emotional health and certain indicators of negative emotional health.  There are limits to the amount of affectionate behavior that are appropriate in public and when we need more, we certainly have to ask ourselves about our own emotional health.  Somehow or another, our culture has told us that it is our right to do whatever it is that we want in public.  To be prohibited from this kind of behavior is to have our human rights taken away.  This kind of ideology has poisoned our culture, it has taken the focus off of “the other” and put it squarely upon the individual.  I’m just not sure that behavior that should generally be reserved for the privacy of a room with closed doors should be displayed for all the world to see.

It’s not just behavior though, it’s the way that we talk and the things that we wear.  Many people will respond with the fact that it’s their right to say, do, and wear whatever it is that they want, but do we consider that there are people who just don’t want to see or hear certain things when they go out in public.  I’m not advocating the creation of “bubble worlds” where reality is put on hold and we live in a dream world, but I am advocating the idea of temperance.  Just because we have the “right” to do, say, and wear whatever it is we want to does not mean that we always need to exercise that right.  If I drive a Ferrari, it can go pretty fast, if I see it as my right to push it to its limit, I take on certain risks that are associated with that.

Just like traffic moving through amusement parks, our wardrobe, language, and behavior need to be considered because everyone might not want to experience these things.  Of course, we could go far to one side or another here, but walking in the middle ground may be an alternative that allows for us to exercise our freedoms and “rights” while still being considerate of those around us.  If we choose to talk, dress, or act without consideration for those around us, we can’t all of a sudden claim concern for our fellow human beings when it becomes convenient for us.  We need to be consistent here.  It’s not a consideration of convenience, it’s an unconditional consideration. 

This is absolutely something that I need to consider myself as well.  I cannot claim concern for those around me when it is convenient.  To be honest, part of our concern for those around us needs to be selfless and there is a conflict between concern for others and concern for our own rights.  We really can’t have it both ways.  That’s the essence of healthy relationships, they are full of give and take.  If we are simply concerned for ourselves and our own rights all the time, our relationships will not be healthy, they will be selfish.  If we show concern and care for those around us, we will be less likely to be so self-consumed because we will have our eyes fixed firmly on those around us.

Maybe I’m taking this too far, but I really think that it comes down to consideration again.  While I may be criticized for a call to modesty in our dress, actions, and speech in public, I still hold to the belief that we all need to be considerate.  How do we talk, how do we dress, and how do we act when we’re around others?  Do we temper our behavior or do we see it as our right to do whatever it is that we want to do?  Next time you’re out and about in public, look at those around you and see what they do, then take a look at yourself and ask whether or not you’re considering others or simply considering yourself.

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