Importance of social convention

Kyle Stagnaro urges Biola students to not forfeit socially acceptable behavior in favor of what they believe to be kindness.

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| Aili Acone-Chavez/THE CHIMES

Kyle Stagnaro, Writer

Kyle Stagnaro urges Biola students to not forfeit socially acceptable behavior in favor of what they believe to be kindness. | Aili Acone-Chavez/THE CHIMES

 

On my way to my class in the business building, I approach the crosswalk that connects the old middle school to the library and Metzger. As usual, I arrive to find a standoff — two or three people wait politely for the approaching car to pass while five or six resolutely walk across. The waiting pedestrians look at the drivers with apologetic glances or else stare down the crossing pedestrians with consternation or judgment. I, of course, follow my usual course of action. I step into the crosswalk, arms raised Rocky-style, and shout, “pedestrian right of way!”

Why am I such a mean-hearted and inconsiderate person? Because I think following agreed-upon traffic rules where everyone knows their appropriate part to play works better than engaging in confusing behavior that brings everything to a stand still.

SOCIALLY APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR

Something similar happens with our need to hold open doors for everyone. Often, as I approach my dorm to drop off my books, the person exiting stops mid-sprint to keep it open for me while I am still 50 feet away. So I have to break into a jog to accept this kind favor. Then, of course, I have to apologize for taking so long to get there and the door-holder has to apologize for making me run. Once again, an act of kindness becomes, in reality, inconvenient for all parties involved as well as awkward.

These patterns seems to indicate that Biola’s problem stems from students being too nice and no one can honestly get upset over that. And yet, this need to forfeit socially appropriate and convenient behavior for kindness stands at complete odds with certain other Biola habits that forfeit socially appropriate behavior for personal gain.

A DISREGARD FOR SOCIAL NORMS

For example, I cannot count the number of times I have been incapable of entering the caf through the entrance because people want to exit through the door that remains open instead of the door conveniently marked exit for the very purpose of exiting.

Another frequent occurrence involves Biola students riding their bikes up La Mirada Avenue on the sidewalk instead of in the bike lane, causing pedestrians to jump aside to avoid injury. This is illegal as well as obnoxious.

This might sound like a list of pet peeves, and it is, but it also indicates a certain attitude on Biola’s campus — disregard for social norms. Whether you ignore these norms in the name of kindness or selfishness, you hinder the order of society by which we all agree to live.

Biola stands out for its exceptional kindness and thoughtfulness, and I am filled with joy when I see members of the community going out of their way to help others. I do not desire for us to abandon these virtues and throw ourselves to the ways of the cold, cruel world, but merely that we consider adherence to social order as a way to serve our fellow man.

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