I’ve never felt okay ignoring people who are putting themselves out there for my protection. Several airplane flights ago I gave in tomy unease and started watching the flight attendants during their safety brief. Along the way I began noticing something peculiar…they never make eye contact.
This was confirmed when during a very rare first class flight (I’m usually in coach) I was clearly the only one among the 16 passengers watching. The attendant acted like a husband who wants to make sure his wife knows he is not looking at the attractive girl walking by. He looked in every direction but mine.
Flight attendants make thousands of flights but seldom garner the attention they deserve from the hundreds of thousands they serve and protect. They have to become numb to the inattention, perhaps even to the point of discomfort when it occurs. [Note: flight attendants are highly trained and I do not intend to take away from their professionalism with that last statement]
It occurs to me that people who are used to being ignored are not very good at accepting positive attention when it occurs. This holds true for the under-appreciated employee, the difficult student, the forgotten child, the un-loved spouse. It’s no surprise when marriage counseling fails to prevent divorce and teenagers rebel, it’s very hard to build up what took years to break down.
Do a quick self-assessment and you will statistical fall into one of these categories: the ignorer or the ignored (or both since humans tend to treat others as they as treated)
If you are an ignorer be conscious of the attention you give others and before it’s too late form habits that build interactions and
relationships. When you get home stop for a minute to interact (positively) with your family. Hug your child and listen to them. Notice something about your spouse and compliment. Look the cashier in they eye when they give you change. A quick nod of the head or howdy when a stranger passes makes a temporary but important connection. You get the idea…make it happen.
If you are ignored make every effort to come out of the dark place you find yourself. Welcome every ray of light as a blessing instead of a threat.
The acknowledgement of one another is steeped in the classic African philosophy of Ubuntu. Desmond Tutu described the Ubuntu philosophy this way:
Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.
In order to move the spirit of Ubuntu beyond a mere humanist philosophy we should overlay the concepts with the teachings of Christ and you will find a foundational teaching of the Gospel:
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31, New International Version)
14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14, New International Version)
Love one another.