I Am, therefore. . . It's all about Me
I'm with my children at a holiday event in a large party tent and during dinner, the boys get up to get drinks. While they are gone, a woman comes over and starts clearing away the plates to make room for herself, until I say, "Excuse me, my kids are sitting there."
"Well there is still plenty of room for me," she says, without stopping. Then she squeeezes herself in and moves my kids' jackets to make room for her friend.
I'm in line at the post office and realize I've written the wrong zip code on the package. I ask my children to stay in line while I go to the desk with the pens. When I return, my eldest has a disappointed look on his face and whispers in my ear, "That man just cut in front of us." I looked at the man and said, "Excuse me, you just cut in front of my kids. They were standing in line." He simply shrugged and turned around and ignored me.
I am listening to a German friend talk about her love troubles and she tells me, in the memorized speech she got straight from therapy "I can not hurt someone, a person allows him/herself to be hurt" and "I am not responsible for how someone else interprets my words."
Wow, really? We're no longer responsible for what we say or how we behave? I don't mean to sound overly moral here, but since when do our actions not have an impact on others? That's not what they told us in kindergarten!
The first and second situations certainly appear less trivial than the third example but aren't they all situations in which self entitlement takes over empathy?
CBS readers know I have struggled, laughed and been shocked by German bluntness (which I would say sometimes crosses the line into rudeness) and I wonder if the directness, saying what one thinks regardless of how it is perceived, isn't simply a part of the already prevelant German preoccupation with Selbstverwirklichung or "self realization" or the all-about-me syndrome.
How long, honestly, can you realize yourself without eventually becoming insensitive? I also wonder, does this have anything to do with Germany's anemic birthrate? The German government has resorted to all kinds of benefits for new families, yet the German birthrate remains very low. Might it have something to do with not having time/interest in committing to someone/anything other than one's self? I know I'm going to get some comments about this theory. . . but it almost seems logical in a country where there is so much emphasis placed on the self that the job of parenting, which sometimes requires being selfless, is a very unpopular one here.