What a country! We actually have a day to celebrate, or make fun of, our own foolishness. April Fool’s Day gives us a break from taking ourselves too seriously – which apparently many of us do too much of the time.
However, we tend not to take others half as seriously as we take ourselves. How easily we write off people who don’t agree with us. They don’t know what they’re talking about. Or we don’t take seriously the customs or manners that are different from our own – whether those of our next door neighbors or half a world away.How can they be “right” when they are so unlike ours? How can some customs and manners be socially acceptable, even expected, when they are almost inexcusable in our world?
While in India, some of my traveling friends and I were often objects of curiosity. This was understandable, especially since a couple of us were blue-eyed blonds, and it was before the time when an influx of Westerners made us a common sight. It became quite uncomfortable though, on several occasions as we waited for our train on a station platform, when a number of men and boys formed a circle around us. They would stand still and simply stare unabashedly, watching every move we made, and listening to every word. We were fish in a fishbowl.
Yet, they were only trying to satisfy their genuine curiosity, taking us seriously as they studied. By contrast, as we squirmed, we felt them to be somewhat foolish, and didn’t take them as seriously as in our uncomfortable state we were taking ourselves. And isn’t it true that we most often ascribe weightiness to our own needs, wants, ideas, and opinions, and give less weightiness to those matters of others?
In this current world of woe, it’s sometimes difficult to have a lighter-hearted view, but maybe at least occasionally we should take a step back from ourselves and heed the legendary suggestion NFL Hall-of-Famer John Riggins (1985) laughingly gave to Sandra Day O’Conner, the first female Supreme Court Justice in history. At the Washington Press Club’s annual black tie event, when O’Conner was preparing to leave the affair early, Riggins, who was allegedly way past his drinking limit, said to her, “Come on, loosen up, Sandy baby. You’re too tight.”