Many lessons are learned in the early formative years between two-to-six years old. We are taught to be considerate of others. We learn to share. Our caregivers teach us to say “thank you” and “please” – and much more. But, is it possible to take consideration to the extreme? Can we silence our own voice by only considering others? Is it okay to think of ourselves? If we do, what would people think?
What Would People Think?
Society determines cultural norms. It is a cultural norm in Japan to bow but a cultural norm in the United States to shake hands. Country A may eat 123 food while Country B may not. We also have those same cultural norms and the same variations in the US. One needs to look no further than outside their own home to see the differences played out on a social, political, and/or economical stage.
The focus of this post will be on something that is known in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and the rest of the Southern States. For all the negative PR (and often rightfully given) provided to these states, there is something that many from the South showcase with pride – Southern Hospitality.
Wikipedia provides the following information:
Southern Hospitality is a phrase used in American English to describe the stereotype of residents of the Southern United States as particularly warm, sweet, and welcoming to visitors to their homes, or to the South in general.
Food figures highly in Southern hospitality, a large component of the idea being the provision of Southern cuisine to visitors. A cake or other delicacy is often brought to the door of a new neighbor as a mechanism of introduction. Many club and church functions include a meal or at least a dessert and beverage. Churches in the South frequently have large commercial style kitchens to accommodate this tradition, but many “fellowship suppers” are “covered dish”: everyone attending brings a dish. However, if a newcomer arrives without a dish, he or she will be made to feel welcome and served generously. When a death or serious illness occurs, neighbors, friends, and church members generally bring food to the bereaved family for a period of time. A number of cookbooks promise recipes advancing this concept.
What if the practice of the art of Southern Hospitality could result in a negative outcome in our own lives? Or, saying it another way, what if we focus so much on the thoughts and opinions of others then we lose and/or silence our own? After all, what would people think?
What would people think if we spoke our mind?
What would people think if we said NO more often?
What would people think if we disagreed with their opinion?
What would people think if we expressed a political view other than theirs?
What would people think if we didn’t go along with the group?
What would people think if we corrected someone when they were wrong?
What would people think if we worked somewhere else?
What would people think if we said it was okay to be different?
What would people think if we disagreed with their religious beliefs?
What would people think if we agreed to disagree?
What would people think if we accepted all people rather than falling victim to rhetoric?
What would people think if we spent more time focusing on our similarities rather than our differences?
What would people think if we sometimes put ourselves first?
What would people think if we acknowledge the imperfections of our boss?
What would people think if we strive to be better tomorrow than what we are today?
What would people think if – for one moment – we didn’t care quite so much what would people think?!?!?
What Do You Think?
I challenge anyone reading this to adjust your inner voice. Tune it so that the volume of the “what would people” might be replaced and then balanced with “what do I” think. I’m not asking anyone to be inconsiderate of others. Instead, I’m asking you to recognize that it is okay to have a voice and to use that voice. After all, if we don’t speak up for ourselves, how can we expect others to do so?
I am also speaking to myself.
What do YOU think?