Remember when we were little and would just waltz right up to our neighbor’s door without any prior notification? I can distinctly recall running errands with my mother, and when we’d finished, if I was so lucky, she would ask “Why don’t we drop in on ‘so and so.’”
This is Colombian custom and it is beautiful. Leidy and Alejandro constantly have people knocking on the door with a “Buenas!” They welcome friends and family over with open arms, never asking “What brings you over?” because often, there is no reason but to say hello. Without any motivation but to love their neighbors, they offer a place to rest a while, something to drink or eat, and a chat about what the day held for the other person. The same situation happens anytime we go out to visit their friends. Whenever we go somewhere, I’m immediately treated like family and shown enormous hospitality.
Over time, however, American culture has nixed or at least buried this practice deep into the recesses of the 90s, which I was fortunate enough to remember.
It stems from toxic idiosyncrasies, creating the kind of environment we have unfortunately accustomed ourselves to, and even worse, accepted to adjoin. There is hope yet, that we as Americans may come together in our communities as brothers and sisters like I have learned is so absolutely possible.
Drifting away from this neighborly conjunction started by way of technology and our failure to practice it responsibly. Now we not only have to text and ask our friends and family if we may see them, but we don’t even walk up to the door if they do say, “Yeah, come over!” We text an impersonal “Outside” just to be safe that they really did want us there in the first place. Some people might say it’s being considerate to double check with them. “So can I really come in?” It hints at insecurity though. This is our culture.
However, this “drop by” culture is alive and well here in Colombia, and you are always welcomed no matter what is happening. “Sit down! Come in! Let me make you some food!”
Then there’s the “let’s hang out” which I hear constantly, and is also one of the biggest lies in the book. However, I am just as guilty of releasing this weighted statement without any real platform. And maybe this hurts our pride; people always breaking this promise. Then we hide behind social media to announce “I’m keeping my circle small now.” Oh, the irony is in the very name of social media! When did having few people to count on become so popular? Too many times have I seen someone complain about feeling one-sided in their relationships, but then go on to say “If you’re a real friend, you’ll text me first.” AS IF THIS WILL FIX THE PROBLEM. What a terrible mindset to have which only further aggravates our vanity! We’re afraid to care because it means being vulnerable and this, often times, means leaving pride at the door.
But how then, do we go about fixing this?
Everyone almost always seems too busy or too lazy for this “let’s hang out” thing. That is because it is expected that we’ll be hanging out outside of the home. Coffee, getting food, or spending money is not needed to constitute for quality time.
Is it too uncomfortable and intimate to meet within the house?
This is how we fix the impersonal “here” text outside of Starbucks. Ditch the text and ring the doorbell. In one of his sketches, comedian Sebastian Maniscalco says, “Twenty years ago, if the doorbell rang, that was a happy moment in your house. It’s called company.” So twenty years ago, there was no doorbell stigma. What happened exactly?
Perhaps we’re too vain and caught up in ourselves to take our relationships to this level. But imagine this.
Imagine that you’re dealing with something and didn’t have to worry about “bothering someone.” You could just swing by a loved one’s without worrying about awkward repercussions.
They’d open the door, let you in and say “tell me everything.” Or even if you were there for no reason at all, but to say hello… This is the way I desperately wish for it to be. Though, it seems we are drifting closer to the side of indifference. In 2014, the New York Times stated that the suicide rate rose by 24% from 1999 to 2014. This change was so drastic, that the age-adjusted death rate rose to 13.26 for every 100,000 people. Compare this to Colombia’s 5.62 for every 100,000, according to data by worldlifeexpectancy.com. While many factors go into this statistic, one can’t help but notice the timeline of this epidemic and the correlation that follows closely behind. Where might this statistic be, if we felt welcomed by our neighbors?
This is the most divided we have been since nearly the civil war. This pride and insecurity poison our capability to partake in honest dialogue. This may be one of the only things that we can agree on: our astounding ability to disagree. Disagreements are healthy -it’s that we lack being able to kindly participate in an open conversation about which we disagree that is killing us.
We’ve forgotten how to have real, human discussion, making it so we look upon someone’s point of view and easily say “Irrelevant”, making it so that we are now as far away as ever from forming intimate relationships. This absolute failure is a disease which is infecting a dying America.
If you agree at all, STOP what you are doing -your facebook scrolling, laying around- NOW, and make the personal decision to become someone that cares deeply. Invite someone over right now, and continue an authentic development of friendship based on honesty.
Offer up your time more generously, start calling people you care about to see how their day went, make the first move! I urge you to expel all malicious feelings that are keeping you from doing this. Do so for the sake of our country, yourself, and our children, so that they may grow up in a world where love is the norm. I’m not saying to let people have easy access to your heart -be smart- but love openly, and make these baby steps so that one day, we may come to a majority consensus that caring is cool.
Maybe even one day we will take it so far that it won’t be weird for me to smile at strangers anymore.
Sources: New York Times http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/04/22/health/us-suicide-rate-surges-to-a-30-year-high.html
World Life Expectancy http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/colombia-suicide