Andrea T Edwards

When did we accept so much contempt in our societies?

I went to Bangkok a couple of weeks ago. It was my first time “on the road” for two years and it was exciting but also daunting. You get out of the habit of travel I tell you!! I also couldn’t risk getting Covid, because when I got back, my hubby had to fly to Australia for work, and I was aware of the risk I brought into the home for him. Thankfully I was all clear, although Covid did hit a few days after he left. Asymptomatic thankfully.

But my trip to Bangkok and his trip to Australia has brought up something I think we need to start having more honest conversations about. Our lack of consideration for each other. No, the contempt we accept in our societies. Contempt is such an ugly thing….

And it’s something that’s been brewing for a long time. Long before Covid, travel had become an uncomfortable, crowded, unpleasant thing. We just have so many more people capable of traveling these days, and while I’m expecting it to change and reduce, it would be nice if we could focus on making it more pleasant and respectful.

With Covid, we saw a whole new layer of contempt build in our societies. Ugh. It’s been awful.

So here’s two examples of contempt and lack of thought for our fellow humans, and I just want us thinking about this, so we can build momentum to change it.

Other people’s digital noise

The first thing, which raised its head within moments of being in other people’s company was – their digital noise. Something that used to drive me insane in the “old” days. I had a chap sitting on the plane in front of me and he was listening to something on his phone, without headphones. I had to tell him to turn it off. Sorry not sorry. At least he wasn’t an arsehole about it. Many are.

I appreciate a lot of people couldn’t care about this, but for me, it does something to my brain. It’s the same when I hear other people chew gum. I can’t stand it. It drives me slightly insane. The only comparison that feels even close is how you’d feel if you stood in an ants nest. I don’t know, maybe I’m just sensitive to noises. Do you feel it? Leave a comment and let me know?

Other people’s digital noise happens all the time. In restaurants, movie theatres, on the beach, basically wherever people are. There always seems to be a small group of people who have zero regard for the impact their digital noise has on others.

I DO NOT get it. I just don’t. Put headphones in please. And if you’re keeping kids entertained, get them headphones too. I don’t want to listen to what you’re listening to. If I wanted to listen to something, I’d make a choice to listen to my own content – but I’d always put headphones in.

It’s just common courtesy to be aware of the impact we have on others’ in our environment, right? When did we stop caring for each other? When did we get so selfish? So blind to our impact on other’s comfort?

I’m so grumpy when this happens and poor Steve. He gets so anxious when that insidious noise filters into our lives, knowing how it impacts me. Sorry love.

Masking and not masking

So Steve is in Australia. Melbourne first and then Sydney, but he’s not catching up with anyone outside of work, because he needs to be super careful he doesn’t get Covid. He was also bummed he couldn’t catch up with my family, because my niece had Covid.

This is his first work trip in more than two years, it’s nearly three weeks long, and all he wants to do at the end of it is come home. If he gets Covid, he can’t come home. Thankfully he’ll be home tomorrow, after a VERY stressful week with people around him getting the virus.

We’ve lived through this pandemic in Asia and here, everyone wears a mask. When people want to have an anti-mask debate with me, I just don’t care, especially if they’re not living in Asia. Here we do it. It’s what’s required, and there seems to be this universal agreement that everyone respects wearing masks. It’s not even because of the punishments metered out. We just all do it.

Do we enjoy it? Of course we don’t. It’s bloody hot and if you’re wearing glasses, annoying! But there’s a sense of community that has really shined through in the last two years in Asia, something I haven’t seen in my home country, or many other countries around the world.

Steve told me practically no one is wearing masks in Australia, and if he does see someone wearing a mask, it’s rare. That’s weird for anyone who has been in Asia these last two years I tell ya. Steve is wearing one – because he’s doing his best to not get Covid – and has found people laughing at him, mocking him, or looking at him with contempt. He’s a bit surprised by it too.

When he was at the airport – flying from Melbourne to Sydney – there were signs saying you must wear a mask. Regardless, the majority were not wearing them and again, he experienced this contempt from those who chose not to.

But think of it from his perspective. Here’s a guy who just wants to get home to his family as quickly as possible. If he gets Covid that will be extended and he’s missing us. So when he looks at people not wearing masks, he doesn’t think hateful thoughts, he just feels a deep anguish that he won’t be able to get home.

On the other side, the people who don’t want to wear a mask, think he’s weak, a sheep or a follower. They don’t get his story at all. Why would they? They probably won’t be restricted in being able to get home to their families, so they can’t relate to his need to wear a mask.

But these different views just create divisions between us. Both sides feel justified and yet, neither is understanding that by not having a single agreement that we ALL follow, we’re just increasing the divisions, which harms our societies more. We’ve just accepted more and more contempt and anger for each other, and boy do we need to stop this!

We all need to do the same thing for as long as it takes

You know, I honestly don’t care if people are anti-mask, anti-vax, pro-mask or pro-vax. With vaccinations, I just want to see all the people in the world who want to get vaccinated have access to vaccines. That’s it. You don’t want to get one, that’s your choice. You want to get one, I hope you have the choice. With 43% of the world still unvaccinated, this is a huge issue if we want to get to the end of this pandemic.

For masks, again, I couldn’t care less what people decide, but we all need to at least agree on one approach. Whether it’s yes or no doesn’t matter, but if we all do the same thing, for as long as it takes, we might have been able to get through this long ago. The divisions and contempt for those on opposing “sides” keep harming our ability to move forward. Why can’t we see it?

Instead, we have huge chunks of our societies doing different things, and the feelings of contempt grow, which is devastating. It really has an impact on my ability to keep my hope alive I have to be honest. It’s just so ugly.

Why can’t we just say: what do we all need to do together to get through this? And whatever the majority thinks is the right approach, we just do that? Isn’t that what democracy is about?

Why do we allow ourselves to keep being divided? Why do we participate in these divisions? Why can’t we see the harm we are doing to each other? Are we happy with that? Do we like feeling such contempt for our fellow citizens every day? Does that feel good to have those feelings in our body? Why can’t we just agree on one approach and everyone get on board?

I recommend you watch this. Any division in our societies harms all of us. And please, after you watch this, challenge all you believe to be true. If you believe in something that is a divisive issue, a great time to question that.

Let’s get smart. Let’s come back together. Let’s get rid of the contempt we feel for each other. It’s the most painful thing I’ve seen in recent years and it’s not serving any of us, other than those who benefit from it. That isn’t you or I, in case you’re wondering.



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