I live in Vancouver. Yes, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - first world country - and yet, I believe the society around me to be illiterate. Illiterate or outrageously selfish, self-serving and completely ignorant. I give them the benefit of the doubt, chosing to believe the issue a lack of education rather than a choice to live a life of complete narrow-mindedness (is mindedness even a word? If not, I'm sure you get what I mean).
Since I have not blogged in quite some time, I have been pondering several topics trying to come up with something profound, though it seems that all I can come up with are complaints about the world around me. Has the world gone awry or have I gone mad?
I was leaving Wal-Mart with my parents the other day. We walked out the exit. Yes, the exit. The doors that have a giant "OUT" sticker slapped on them right at eye level and "DO NOT ENTER" on the outside. One would think that this would deter people from trying to get in the building through those particular doors. "IN" would usually indicate the entrance. But as we were leaving, a kid came barrelling through the exit with a shopping cart, nearly taking out my knees and ankles with the contraption. Old enough to read, I assumed the poor child was developmentally delayed and could not... Then his mother followed him in. Perhaps she, too, was uneducated and could not read. At least the boy had the good sense to sheepishly say, "whoops" in embarassment at his mistake. The mother had no such reaction. Looking back I wish I had some option to offer the unfortunate family. Perhaps a continuing education course that teaches adults to read, or a tutor for the boy...
This illiteracy goes even further than words, believe it or not. Apparently pictures, too, are difficult to decypher. I would attribute the inability to read these signs to blindness if it weren't for the fact that the signs in question involve parking lots and roadways. If blindess is to blame, we have an even bigger issue on our hands.
I was with my sister and her newborn son and we had planned a day of shopping. We pulled into the mall parking lot and headed to a store which we knew to have "mommy parking" - spots reserved for expectant mothers or parents with small children and marked by signs depicting baby buggies. We found an open mommy spot and took it, though it was not the closest, it was the only one left available. We got out of the car and proceeded to gather our things as well as the baby's. As I hefted the stroller from the trunk, I noticed not one, but two men exit the department store and make beelines for their vehicles - both of which were parked in mommy parking. Again, wanting to give them the benefit of the doubt, I assumed their wives would soon follow them from the store. This was not to be. Both men started their cars and drove off. If their wives and children were indeed in the store, I feel sorry for them having been left behind by their husbands who were in such hurries. I shook my head at them as they drove away and resisted the temptation to shake my fist and holler profanities. I am, after all, a good Christian girl and it would not reflect kindly upon myself or my family to be caught in such vulgar activities. My sister and I continued our shopping appalled at the audacity of those two men who were so rude to steal parking from those who could have actually benefited from those stalls.
My choice to believe illiteracy over ignorance is a choice to save my own sanity. If all these people who cannot read traffic signs, parking signs, store signs are really as selfish as they appear to be, it appears to me that our society is quickly slipping beyond salvation. There is no longer a single thought for fellow man, for the woman on the sidewalk, for the child in the backseat. It would mean that neighbours no longer help each other. It would mean that boy scouts no longer help old ladies to cross a busy street. It would mean that those old ladies would think the worst of any boy scout who makes an offer to help her cross the street. It would mean that we love ourselves more than our neighbours and that we do not love our neighbours as ourselves.