Tonight I drove home past the University College Cork campus. At times I stopped the car to avoid running over drunk Freshers stumbling out onto the road on their way into town. On their way into a university experience they’ll never forget (apart from on the morning after).
If my case for it being a lonely world or one where we struggle to look past convenient relationships with people like us, was merely a whisper, then surely these patterns of life are the screaming of similar yearnings on our hearts.
The rhythm of university life for so many.
Or so the saying goes. One of my old university hallmates still ushers in each month typically with the facebook status:
But the joke is that we all know, he knows, that come next week, he’ll be posting the same thing again. But my point in saying this isn’t to rant against such things. You can find enough of society doing that elsewhere.
My point is that the fact we delight in this pattern of life (and 80% of students do,) illustrates that we seem incapable of looking outwards to people who are different to us, to appreciate them, unite with them and get along with them in very real ways. We struggle to even do it in a university scene where we’re all like each other!! The joke about Irish lads like myself is that we need 3 pints before we’d even talk to a woman. And there’s a reason why that story has come to pass. Our unity seems to come at the expense of everything apart from our drunken experience, which is our one uniting factor.
(And for those who don’t drink as much, like me, let us not think any more of ourselves…once the proverbial party bus leaves the university halls of residences, you rarely get a buzzing community of other-person-centred people appearing to unite for the evening. On the times we did, we tended to all sit round and focus on our homogony “we’re not common people like those clubbing types, we’re so very different!”. The irony didn’t strike us.)
We seem incapable of having motivation and desire to look beyond ourselves (apart from maybe the very few of us who’ve been raised in very diverse settings, but we couldn’t expect that to be replicated worldwide for everyone).
And from what I can tell it’s two or three main things that we struggle with as we consider how we can be united in our diversity:
- we struggle to be vulnerable and admit weakness or neediness
- we struggle to see others’ cultures or strengths and are quick to think highly of our own (we’re blind to ourselves)
- we struggle to know why we should bother to look outwards if we’re not harming anyone
It’s why when I’m travelling there’s always the draw towards the Irish pub in the city. Familiarity. A place where “the craic” will be mighty (as we say). A place we can find comfort and feel at home in. It’s the reason a hotel resort where I never see a foreign person, or have to speak in a foreign language is often what we opt for. Neither are inherently wrong, and so I’m not making a moral judgement on those who, like myself, lean towards these at times.
But what will help us do these three things? For one, the answer that I attempt to start (you’ll be pleased to hear), isn’t found in religion as we’ve seen in Ireland.