“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Friday, September 07, 2007

More on social skills

I was doing some more thinking on social skills today (see Tuesday August 21). So last night I went with a friend to see the California Angels play. He had been wanting to go for a long time and once we got there, he almost immediately wanted to go home. I convinced him to stay till midway through the 5th inning, and of course after we left, the Angels exploded and scored 9 runs...oh well. At least he got the free blanket, an Angels baseball, and other free paraphenalia.

My point, however, was this friend of mine, a man with severe mental retardation, walked around greeting people the whole time we were at the game. In his somewhat difficult to understand speech, he would say, "Hello, how are you?" to just about everyone he passed. I must admit that I found that kinda refreshing, and most of the people he addressed were very kind to him as well, responding to his greetings.

By all accounts, he was evidencing a social skill problem, to use technical terminology, to darn much greeting. Obviously when you go somewhere, especially at a pro sporting event, you get in and get to your seat. You don't take the time to greet everyone you pass in the arena, it takes too long. Besides no one else is greeting everyone else that they pass. So my friend's friendliness was an example of poor social skills, according to societal standards, not mine, on his part. Instead of greeting and being friendly, he should have kept to himself and shut up. But his friendliness brought a smile to nearly everyone that he came into contact with. Sure they gave him the benefit of the doubt because he has a cognitive disability, but nevertheless, he didn't follow the rules with the result being that he softened those around him.

Think about it.



Mark said...

Your experience with your friend at the game (and that was a great game! Sorry you missed the end.) makes me think of one of my favorite praise songs.

"We are one in the Sprit,

We are one in our love...

And they'll know we are Christians by our love."

I have read scripture, heard sermons and listened to songs that encourage Christians to cause non-Christians to wonder what is "different" about this person, who knows Jesus. Your friend must have caused many of the people he encountered to think about many things, not the least among them, how best to relate to our fellows, and why it was so easy for this man to reach out.

Your friend offered love, without condition, to everyone he met. That a person with "social disabilities" is able to dispense love with such grace should give pause to the rest of us as we walk through our offices, malls, train staions and any other places where we encounter one another.

Your friend offers all of us an awesome testimony.


The Editor in Chief said...

By the way, it was funny at the game as my friend would say, "Lets go home now." Then a little later, "Lets go home now." Finally when it was obvious that I wasn't moving, he turned to me and excitedly declared, "ANGELS WIN!" As if that declaration would signal the end of the game. It was really funny, but I got him to stay for four and a half innings only. He won in the end.

Shirley said...

What a wonderful place this world would be if everyone had the heart of your friend. By his actions I know that he makes Jesus smile all the time because he is full of love. Not only was Jesus smiling down at him, but he made a lot of people smile that day. I love people like your friend. I wish there were a lot more people like him in this world.

He is a wonderful example of how people should treat one another. Nowadays people are so busy with their lives that they think of no one but themselves. I can't stand people that walk right by me and make eye contact, yet they do not smile back at me.

It is such a wonderful feeling when humans can interact with one another in a warm way, without having to know each other. Even if it is for a split second, that smile or that hello means so much. It shows that as humans we care about one another. That is what he was doing, he was showing that he cared about those individuals.

What your friend did was so awesome, he is a wonderful example of how human beings should be.

Thank you for sharing your story!

Anonymous said...

Although our society considers what your friend did as "poor social skills," our society also considers audultry, cheating, stealing, and lying somewhat acceptable. Therefore, we really should not consider what the majority of our society has to say, for it seems that they are a bit out of wack.

Many people in our society are so busy with their work, school, and extracurricular activity schedules that no one makes time to say hello to a stranger, as your friend did. Many times, we, as Christians, are the only "light" that anyone will see. Therefore, we should take your friend's actions into consideration and act on them, for we should be doing all we can act as Jesus would and spread the gospel...sometimes that just means asking someone how their day is going or saying "hello" to them with a smile on our face.