A culture of lacking empathy

2020.09.19 15:20

강창오 조회 수:95

It was a sunny and bright afternoon I visited my local park after a while. The park was quite lively with a number of people who probably, like me, squeezed out of Corona restrictions. I sat down on a chair enjoying my usual cuppa, jaffa cake and the park view that made me forget the tension of pandemic for a spell.

There were many ducks, coots and swans were leisurely swimming around in the pond and people were immersed in deep chat-ups on benches or lawn. Some young children guided by parents were feeding the birds. A couple of women and a young boy who looked Indian origin sat at the next table to me. The two women soon began to chat up and the boy started to run all around the lawn chasing the birds away.

The boy would get soon tired of doing that that was I expected. But he carried on for more than half an hour was still doing it when I was leaving. I also expected that the two women he came with would stop him for a public nuisance but they didn’t pay attention at all. The constant landing and flying off of the birds caused by the boy’s chase made people sitting on the lawn so restless. The other young children who were feeding the birds were just standing and holding the bread with tearful face. Their parents were standing with them ruefully just looking at the boy’s behaviour.

While I was watching it reminded me of last summer when my daughter was moving her house. I joined them to be a helping hand and, then we all landed in a hotel while the house was in need of some renovations. One afternoon, my grand-daughter insisted on us swimming in the pool which was part of the hotel garden. There were already full of people out there, who appeared to be Hispanics who took all the tables which were laid out with plenty of food. While my family members were headed for the pool I was looking around for a spare seat. A man sitting at a table shoved himself a bit and told me to sit next to him. I didn’t want to disturb his family gathering but had no choice as my legs were so tired, sat down with “Thank you”.

At the other side of the table, two women who might be his wife and a friend were chatting up. They didn’t even notice of me, a stranger joining their table, so my guilty feeling of bothering them wasn’t necessary after all. The man introduced me to himself saying that they were from Dominica Republic, having a family picnic there and offered me some food. I thanked him and tasted a few bits which were quite tasty. While I was nibbling the food, looked at the pool nearest me and spotted a small boy who was about 5 – 6 year old. He was chubby but a boy of sturdy build and rather very cute. Curiously, the boy didn’t swim around but played one thing in one place, a backward somersault diving which looked quite tricky for his age.

He didn’t fail even once while I was watching which was very impressive, enjoyable and I was quite proud of this stranger boy. It wasn’t just his diving that caught my eyes. Every time he finished, called and begged his mom who sat at the table the other side of me, to watch him while posing himself for the next diving and, then “Splash”. But his mom didn’t show any interest and kept talking with the other woman. He even approached his mom at times and pleaded with her to watch him. Astonishingly, his mom yelled and yelled at him saying “Don’t interrupt me, go away”, then he just ran back to the pool crying in fear.

I sensed that he was basically so afraid of his mom somehow. It was nearly an hour I was there and witnessing this repetitive and sorry episode. How on earth a mom refuses to watch her son’s remarkable diving skills and rebukes his plea instead! I left there in dismay seeing the boy’s constant begging and pleading with his mom and, then diving into the water with such disappointed and sorrowful eyes. I was so sorry for him having such a pathetic mom.

He was a still a young boy who might just forget this after leaving the pool, would not get affected yet by this one occasion. By observing that, I was certain that this pattern will carry on with his life and the lack of empathy and her disregard to him will cause the boy’s personality structure in a very negative way. Only if just once she watched his diving….

When these two unexpected events criss-crossed my head that left with me a few questions to myself, “What do make these moms so indifferent to their sons? Are they not educated enough in understanding this basic family bond? Surely, they are their loved sons somehow. Why?”

Or, it may be just their cultural thing I don’t know. If so, what a sad culture of lacking empathy!

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