I pray the day finds you well.
It all started innocently enough. I was at my friend’s beach house, looking out the window at the ocean. His house is on a hill that rises steeply from the beach up to a bluff. There are houses on the beach, the houses stair step up the hill occupying the landscape. As I looked out the window I noticed something. I noticed that the homes directly in front of my friend’s house had flat roofs, giving us an unobstructed view of the ocean. I also noticed that the houses in front of the homes with flat roofs had multiple stories and high-pitched roofs. I asked my friend, “Why would someone build a house on the beach that only looked into the house right in front of them?” My friend said that actually the houses with the flat roofs where here first. During the building boom of the 90’s the property in front of these houses was re-zoned residential and houses were built all the way down to the beach. First, the houses right on the beach went up, then the ones behind them went up. People building them taller, so they could see over the tops of the houses below them, all the way up to the original homes that were there.
Here I was looking out a window with a wonderful view of social unconsciousness. It was a kind of time travel really. I could see a time when people intentionally built their homes so that their neighbors behind them would still have a view. Then I saw a time when people stopped caring about the people behind them, or even beside them. They wanted a house on the beach with a view of the ocean. It did not matter to them that the house they built ruined the view of the house behind them. They had their view.
This got me to thinking; where else have I seen social unconsciousness?
Later that day my friend and I went out to eat. The town in which his house is located is your normal beach town. Winding, hilly two lane roads. Every few miles there are turnouts that slow moving vehicles can utilize to let others that are behind them pass them safely. On some hills, there are even extra lanes that allow safe passing to happen. As we drove to our destination point, we fell behind an RV that was going fifteen to twenty miles under the speed limit. We were the fifth car in line behind the RV. Before long there were twenty to thirty cars behind the RV, patiently waiting for a safe place to pass. We passed a sign that read, “Slow moving turn out ahead. Slow moving vehicles are required by law to use turn outs.” The RV drove right passed the turnout, seemingly oblivious to the fact that now there is almost a mile long string of cars behind them.
The more I thought about it, the more I saw it. I began to see social unconsciousness in the everydayness of our life.
When I think of social unconsciousness, I do not really think that they are unconscious of others. I am pretty sure that the RV knew that there was a line of cars that would relish the opportunity to get past this slow moving vehicle. I think that they just did not care. I am pretty sure that when the people built their new beach homes they were well aware that they were totally ruining the one thing the people before them had built their homes for, the view. They just did not care.
Have we become a people that are so self-absorbed, thinking only of ourselves, dare I say narcissistic, that we have become unconscious of our neighbor?
I cannot help what the world would look like if we all did the wonder move?
We all know the wonder move. Before we do something, say something, react to something, we say, “I wonder. I wonder how this will affect my neighbor. I wonder if what I am doing is negatively impacting another. I wonder if?”
If as a people, we are unconscious about others, why would we be surprised that others are unconscious about us?
Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. Somebody said that once.
Lord, open my eyes to my social unconsciousness. Help me see where I am not thinking about my neighbor in the everydayness of my life. Give me the correction that I need so that I can truly be your hands and feet. Give me Grace as I extend Grace to others. Help me be a more loving person.