UNIVERSAL BEHAVIOR IN RESPONSE TO DISASTER,
SOCIOCENTRIC LANGUAGE TO DESCRIBE THE BEHAVIOR
Good Monday Morning! (See afterthought after reading – posted at bottom.)
It should not come as surprise that my thinking roams routinely on “observations of human affairs.” I’ve admitted as much; my entire blog represents my doing so!
This weekend for a time my thoughts were on the following statements often heard, especially when an American community has been hit by disaster (flood, fire, storm …).
“Everyone is pitching in to help – this is who we are in this community.”
Sometimes the statement includes more than a description of the people in the community. Sometimes the statement is: “Everyone is pitching in to help – this is the American Way.”
I have no interest in “political correctness” of statements made by people while they are pouring their energy, good-will, and resources to alleviate suffering and bring repair following a community disaster! I believe, and witness, such statements are true!
But I want to point out — if different statements were made, they would also be true:
“Everyone is pitching in to help – this is who we humans are.”
“Everyone is pitching in to help – this is the way of all humanity.”
It’s interesting, and telling, to notice the sociocentric view of statements that identify “cooperative helpfulness” as specific to a single community or single nation.
I’ve only lived in one other country, Canada. I heard the very same statements there, with ‘the American Way’ replaced by ‘the Canadian Way’.
This weekend I thought about the many disaster events from around the world brought to our attention in this time of fast, instant, information. I have seen countless immediate photos or video clips of aftermath of floods, earthquakes, other disasters, from many countries.
Invariably, these photos show the locals giving their all. They are seen bringing heart, resource, blood, sweat and tears to ‘pitch in and help’.
The first definition of ‘sociocentric’ offered by Dictionary.com is “oriented toward or focused on one’s own social group.”
When people make sociocentric statements that identify a specific quality as “belonging to this group”, I do not think they mean to rule out a universal quality found in all humanity.” But the logic of such statements is exclusive not inclusive.
I didn’t intend to write up this line of thought any time soon. Only to ‘keep it in mind’. Yesterday and today’s news, however, gave me a perfect and immediate example of “humans anywhere pitching in to help out. The following CNN link includes 3 photos of citizens in the Philippines responding to an extreme flood disaster.
There they are – people – neither American nor Canadian – pouring heart, blood, sweat, tears, cooperation, and resources, to pitch in and help out.
It would be interesting, some years down the road, to notice what shift in understanding all humanity might develop if we were more aware of our sociocentric language. Language, reveals understanding, points of view.
To recognizing common human experience and quality!
My Best to Each and All! –MaggieAnn
(Afterthought: I apologize! The above is valid – but last evening I realized does not go far enough. My words are ‘sociocentric’! First, I used only one nation in my title (now changed). Based on assumption most readers are American. I didn’t want a title to suggest my focus was to ‘compare and contrast’ the US and Canada. My point, not taken far enough in main post, is one of universality. Second: I make my point by example Canada, and of people in the Philippines. Conclude with observation of sociocentric habitual language patterns. Then I stop. Later realization: I used sociocentric thinking myself! Should have added: I have no doubt this same language pattern exists in many countries, likely in all! Habitual language of exclusion is also universal! In support of this last statement, I observe many tribal groups and nations use a name for themselves that means “the people”. Key word is ‘the’ – not “a” people, (which would acknowledge existence of ‘other people’ as well). The first is more exclusive than the second. My thinking stopped before I payed attention to “universal habitual language patterns are often sociocentric.” If I, and my main audience (American and some Canadian), are charged with noticing sociocentric language patterns, I am sure we are not alone in this. I was over-focused in a ‘sociocentric’ way myself!! How we respond to disaster is universally cooperative; how we use our language to describe cooperation in disaster is often universally sociocentric! — MA)