Saturday, 10 October 2015

The Dangers of Minding Your Own Business

I’m going to start telling you not to keep to yourself so much, but before I go too much further, I want to clarify something.  I will not be propagating a lifestyle of being nosey and gossiping.  I do, however, want to encourage a lifestyle of paying attention to the lives of others:  looking at what they choose to display to the public and caring enough to give them advice on how to improve their lives.

I love living in Canada.  It’s a peaceful nation, where everyone usually tries to get along with everyone else.  It has a positive atmosphere that other countries envy.  Tolerance is a pretty big deal here, and that’s great.  But it does has its downsides.

Along with the acceptance of others comes an almost self-righteous pride in our ability to embrace our differences.  What follows is often the attitude that our aptitude to co-exist peacefully with others entitles us to a certain level of freedom to do what we want without judgement ourselves.  So although we live in an age where we are constantly connected to others via technology, our fear of offending others gets in the way of forming honest relationships.

But our proclivity to keep our opinions of others to ourselves does more than hamper our ability to build quality relationships.  It also means we are less likely to learn from our own and others’ mistakes.  People aren’t as willing to step in and tell someone when they are being unwise because that would seem to be judgmental or intolerant.  That leads to more mistakes being made overall, meaning that our peaceful society isn’t anywhere close to perfect.

Something that stuck with me from all the different kinds of safety courses I’ve been forced to take is that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of reaction.  It might be annoying to tell someone that they are going down the wrong path.  After all, we peace loving people would never want to offend someone else.  But in the long run it would mean less mistakes being made.

I want to promote a loving society.  What is more loving:  keeping to ourselves and not offending anyone, or stepping into the lives of others and offering them advice because we care about them?

I want to reiterate that I don’t mean for us to become busybodies always sticking our noses in other people’s business and telling them what we think of then and what we think they should do.  Yet in our lives we have the privilege of building relationships, and we can speak into others’ lives within the right contexts for the right reasons more than we thought.

Sometimes not minding our own business means just being there as a friend.  There has been countless times where a random friend just saying hello out of the blue to me was a great encouragement.  Often the people who are the hardest to get along with are the ones that most need a friend.

That about sums up what I wanted to say.  I did want to add though that the motivation for this article came with the devastating news of a local suicide.  It was the second suicide within the family, which made the news even more heart breaking.  Although I did not personally know the involved individuals, I did know people who have committed suicide, and I would do anything to go back and talk to them. 

For those of us who are Christians, there is extra motivation for us to not be content just living secluded but peaceful lives.  Every day there are people who not only are in danger of going to Hell, but also in danger of living apart from the unending joy that comes from Jesus.  We have a responsibility to speak into each other’s lives, and not just with our actions (especially since being a kind a loving person may just be mistaken as attributed to being a friendly Canadian).   Pray for the wisdom to do so in the right ways at the right times.