You've been disconnected

In the aftermath of recent news in Australia of the discovery of an abandoned baby and the subsequent crucifying of his mother for the cruelty of the act, I’ve been feeling heart heavy and reflective.

Once my initial horror and outrage settled, other questions rose in my mind. Like, how did the people surrounding this woman not notice her missing baby for four days? Did anyone notice she wasn’t coping? We are supposed to have a good support system for new mothers in this country, so how did she slip through the net?

Everyone assumes she had a support network of friends or family around her, but did she? It’s easy sitting in the comfort of our own lives, whining about our bills or the tradesman who didn’t turn up or the family member who won’t cooperate on our Christmas plans, to assume that others enjoy the same privileges as we do – partner, parents, siblings, aunts, cousins, friends who care about our wellbeing and are keeping an eye on how we’re travelling.

We assume this woman has that too. We assume that if something goes wrong someone will always be there to help. But what if that someone never shows up?

Relationships are built around the idea of ‘us’. We all have an ‘us’ we identify with. ‘Us’ is our tribe, our group, the most important people in our immediate circle we have contact with. We see it as our job to look after and be part of our ‘us’. Anyone outside of ‘us’ is seen as ‘them’.

The moment we label a fellow human being as ‘them’, we disconnect. It happens in intimate relationships, in families, in communities and across nations.  ‘Them’ may as well be another species. We don’t feel responsible for ‘them’ because ‘they’ are different and sometimes ‘they’ might even infringe on comfortable life, which makes us hostile.

Seeing another person as ‘them’ disconnects us from our humanity. It’s easy then to dehumanise someone and not be concerned for their welfare. Because we can’t identify with ‘them’ we feel righteous in our treatment of ‘them’. ‘They’ are always somebody else’s problem.

I’m not laying blame, there’s too much of that in this story as it is, I just want to point out the role disconnectedness plays in it. Disconnection is something most of us have experienced. It’s contagious. This woman didn’t feel connected to her baby. We don’t feel connected to her. Disconnection makes us all do terrible things. In some cases, unforgiveable things.

Connection is the solution to all forms of cruelty, and it starts in the way we treat our loved ones and the strangers beyond them. Small acts of consideration for others, even those outside our ‘us’, changes everybody’s experience of community. Respectful treatment of other people, especially those closest to us, is the seed of a more considerate community. Being connected to and taking care of our partner’s heart, as well as our own, creates an atmosphere of tolerance and respect that is carried out into the world.

Connection generates compassion. Compassionate people don’t do terrible things, like abandon babies or vilify women living in a hellish psychological place.

This recent incident has been a sobering reminder to me of what can happen when we disconnect from our heart and it hurts us all. All I can do to remedy it is make more of an effort to listen, to see, to notice and understand other human beings, to try and stay as connected to my own humanity as I can.

I’ll make the cake for the new neighbour next door and pop over to welcome them. I’ll put my trolley back in the correct trolley race after supermarket shopping. I’ll try not to shout at the idiot on the trail bike who roars up my street scaring the bejesus out of my dogs. I’ll give my family more attention. I’ll find ways to show I care for people around me, even if I don’t know them. And I will remind myself all the strangers crossing my path are part of my ‘us’.

Comments

KateBellex's picture

Excellent post, Kate. So many of the bad things that happen are due to people focusing on each others "differences" - skin colour, religion, gender, culture, political beliefs, demographics. We need to remember what we all have in common - our shared "humanness" if you like. We all get nervous, scared, sad, hungry tired, seek approval from others, avoid pain and desire love, happiness and acceptance. Remembering that makes it easier to see others as part of "us" rather than "them." 

KateBellex's picture

Thank you Kate for your thoughtful comments. Yes differences are easy to focus on, it's finding the common ground that can be hard.

KateBellex's picture

Excellent post Kate. So much selfishness around sometimes - if it doesn't impact me, then it doesn't concern me.

I honestly believe (sorry to get all 'new age') that we are all 'one' - connected to each other. We don't have to like everyone, or even understand them, but just be aware and hopefully that awareness leads us to do the right thing and to build more awareness.

Ok, herewith endeth the sermon.

KateBellex's picture

It's a difficult one to put into action - we are all one - but I agree, people would be much more pleasant to themselves and others if everyone believed it. 

KateBellex's picture

A timely reminder for us all, Kate. We need more 'us'. 

KateBellex's picture

The art of collective thinking Susanne. 'We', 'us', 'ours'. Makes all the difference in the world.

KateBellex's picture

Often we do nothing because we don't know what to do. We take the easy path rather than reaching out. We don't want to overstep, we don't want to be pushy or embarrass others or ourselves. We rely on text messages to connect to people when people need to talk. You don't get tone or feeling in a text message. I agree we all know people who could benefit from connection...we need to reach out.

KateBellex's picture

Hi Monique,
You raise a good point. We can definitely run the risk of overstepping, being pushy and embarrassing others and ourselves (here I am risking all three by replying when I might offend you by sounding preachy! (certainly not my intent!))
Good questions to ask are:
*How would I feel if the roles were reversed? (Would I want that phone call / casserole / "would you like a hug?" question / inquiry as to how I am feeling?)
*Am I acting from a place of compassion? (Is my concern/motivation to help this person/relieving this person's suffering?)
If the answer is yes, you're unlikely to do anything inappropriate.
Tread gently and kindly and be guided by the person's reaction and your own intuition. If you have any better ideas, please share them! :)

KateBellex's picture

Sound advice Kate. It's about putting ourselves in someone else's shoes. 

KateBellex's picture

You're right, Mon. It takes effort and time to reach out and with our lives so crammed with busy-ness and the demands of the false electronic world, it's easier to do it quickly via email/text. But nothing beats real contact and it's easy to forget how much that real contact means to someone who needs it. x 

KateBellex's picture

well said Kate.

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