Thursday, 19 December 2013

Rooted in Cynicism


Last week my brother indicated that his truck was missing and assumed that his brother’s friend must have it.  Nonchalantly and unconcerned he proceeded to the wedding reception with the assumption that the truck had already arrived before him and would be there. No panic.  No suspicion.  Not even concern.       
My daughter and I looked at each other and laughed at his reaction noting that back home, this is not the standard default reaction to a missing vehicle; our foreignness strongly evident.    

The other day, my mother received a phone call from a man who wanted to return a music folder that he had found.  During the process of collecting that folder, he requested her number because she was unsure whether the folder belonged to the choir to which she was a part.  The folder itself was worth about $2 and more was probably spent on petrol in the process of its return. 
There was a great divide between our thoughts regarding his intentions and the assumptions adopted by my mother.  I mean, it sounded like an excuse (a lousy one at that) to get contact details, doesn’t it?  ‘The foreigners’ looked at each other and laughed again.  My mother, without thinking twice, happily provided her phone number.

My daughter concluded that her Oma was 'grossly lacking in street smarts' as she deals with her world at face value, very casually, and given her environment, has the luxury of doing so.   We on the other hand, have developed a highly sensitive internal suspicion radar equipped with the capacity to attune to any perceived levels of dodgy behaviour emanating from any point.   
   
I suppose this is true for all of humanity.  We interpret the world based on what we know to be true largely based on past experiences.  Norms and standards differ around the world, not so much in the behaviour of humanity but in expectation.  Our world is interpreted based on our perceptions and judgement of others often made on what we ourselves would do in similar circumstances.   

Somehow disappointment and excitement / contentment are related to the difference between expectation and actual experience.  Depending upon which one exceeds the other, an incident is described as one or the other.
Having grown up in one world, and returning from another, I wonder how easy it is to adapt back to the simpler assumptions that I grew up with. 

How easy is it to relearn that the world is usually safe?  Or just how embedded is that seed of paranoia that comes from living in an environment that has a higher prevalence of crime?
And so, what I am really wondering is, am I destined to be cynical for life?   

I suppose time will tell...