The Honor Blog
Today is: Apr 10, 2020
Post From: Jan 17, 2020
Responding to Difficulties
A few weeks ago, during Mass, I saw something which got me to thinking about the different ways people respond when they see someone experiencing difficulty. Of course, the response will depend on the nature of the difficulty, so it is significant that this was an acute and relatively minor event: a young lady fainted during Mass.
I think the first thing worth noting is that most people respond with an instinctive desire to help. That is quite a positive thing. What it says is that human beings really are inclined to do good things. A discussion of whether humans are fundamentally good or fundamentally bad is not the direction I want to go, today - it is a great topic, but not for today - so I will stop there. I think humans really would like to `do the right thing', would like to behave honorably. That does not necessarily mean they do, but they would like to.
The other thing which struck me about the entire incident is that it illustrates a difference between the way men and women respond to these things. Well - I think it does. You can decide for yourself whether the contrast I am going to draw reflects real differences in gender or is instead a reflection of me as an individual.
After the initial rush to help, what I noticed is that there was an aftermath of people who would stop by to visit the pew in which the young woman was sitting. Most of the people were women, especially older women; they would stop, talk for a while, and even pat the young woman who had the fainting spell.
Now, had I been the one who fainted, I would have wanted the consoling and comforting to stop as soon as possible. Once I was sitting up and talking, I would have started making jokes about myself in order to move the attention elsewhere. That inclination informs my approach when other people are in distress - that is, I would take the same approach for other people, too. I would be eager to help, but once I was sure the other person was cared for, I would look for chances to make jokes, to disperse the attention - because I would be assuming that person would be taking the same approach I would have taken.
My impression is that a lot of that stems from a difference between men and women. My perception is that more women are inclined toward making the personal connection, with the result that they will offer comfort - in this case after the time I would have thought the comfort would be welcomed. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to want to be independent, with the result that they chafe at the offering of any more comfort than strictly necessary, and sometimes even at an amount which actually IS necessary.
It might be that I am wrong, though - perhaps the difference has more to do with individual personal comfort than gender predispositions.