Disney Bus and the Death of Men
This is an anecdotal analysis of a tragic phenomenon I've observed over the past decades aboard the Walt Disney World buses.
I was not planning on blogging this week because my family and I are on vacation. However, a topic came up that was just too in-line with our podcast this week.
I have been coming to Walt Disney World (WDW) for vacation since I was about 4 years old. The way you get around the resort, from hotel to hotel, hotel to the parks and back, park to park, etc. is via a network of buses. At certain times of day (i.e. park opening and park closing) these buses get quite packed.
There has always been an unspoken rule- the elderly, women and young children get the seats. Men and older children stand. That rule was not exclusive to the WDW buses, but since public transportation in most cities is not so overcrowded- it was always a surefire place to see this norm in action.
Up until our last vacation, this was the norm. Typically, if you were to look around at the faces of the people standing... it was primarily men standing. I remember my dad giving up his seat when I was younger, I've seen my father-in-law and brother-in-law give up seats and I always give up my seat.
The reason seems rather obvious to me. The elderly and young children are physically incapable of standing on a moving vehicle, and women are to be treated as more precious (i.e. what husband would not much rather he fall on his own face than his wife).
Last time we were at WDW, I remember having observed and commented to my wife that I thought it strange that there were so many women and children standing while able-bodied men sat in their seats. This year, it's absolutely rampant.
I guess I had always thought in my mind that the WDW bus might somehow be the last hold out for chivalry to be on display. However, that tragically is not the case. I noticed and commented about it to my wife earlier this week, and then last night I couldn't believe my eyes.
On the bus back to the hotel from the park, there was a woman holding a sleeping toddler... no one got up (for the record, I was already standing). I looked as this poor woman passed man after man as she headed towards the back of the bus in a futile effort to find a seat... no one stood. Finally the bus is about to move, and I'm thinking this poor woman is about to fall. If you've never stood on a bus before, just know that it takes a solid hand on a restraint in order to stay upright... and she had no free hands. Finally, to the embarrassment of my family, I asked a young man who was just comfortably sitting in his seat if he would mind standing so she could sit. He did.
Where are we as a society if we are perfectly comfortable sitting in our seat while a woman and her toddler struggle to stand right in front of our eyes?
I don't blame the young man, after all he did move when asked. I also don't think that everyone's initial inaction primarily stems from laziness either. While that may play a role, I think the main reason no one stood is that it didn't even occur to them that they should.
That is the tragedy of this whole observation. A woman was in need, and it did not even occur to anyone that they should be the ones to help her. The factors that play into this are many, but here's what I think has lead to this societal breakdown:
Self-Absorbed Apathy: We have become a people so obsessed with ourselves that it is likely no one noticed this woman at all. There is almost always a cell phone screen in front of our faces. This has trained us to ignore the world around us... and that includes the people that live in that world.
Descent of Masculinity: For at least a decade now, we as a society have been pushing towards the elimination of gender. While gender equality began as a mostly positive movement, gender neutrality is absolutely not a good thing. Men and women are fundamentally different and men should be the ones most willing to put themselves in harms way at the expense of others (Ephesians 5:25). When we reject this and say that everyone is not only equal but that everyone is the SAME, we are also removing the feeling of obligation and compulsion that would have prevented a man from sitting comfortably while his female loved one stood.
Selfishness: While self-absorbed apathy is about how most people don't even give others a single thought because they are in their own little isolated world; I have no doubt that another major clause is true selfishness. We live in a "me-first" society. I'm quite sure that many have thought in their heads "why should I make myself uncomfortable and stand for someone else- they wouldn't do that for me." As a society, we simply teach putting ourselves first.
This blog post is not meant to be a self-righteous rant. I'm quite sure that I've done a number of selfish, wrong and ignorant things myself on this vacation- for example I nailed a kid with my backpack by accident. Again, I want to be clear that this is something I observed over the course of several bus rides- it's not meant to call any one person out... it's a trend.
This blog post is also not meant to be a "things used to be great and now they are bad" type of blog post. Things were bad 2 decades ago too; they just dealt with different issues. Our society's desire to eliminate the idea of gender is fairly unique, and so is the degree to which a person can be self-absorbed and isolated thanks to smart phones and earbuds. We simply need to be aware of these current challenges and face them head on!
The solution? Well, we simply need to love God and others. If we do that, then even if we are on our cell phone- let's look around to make sure no one needs help around us. Let's also love how God created each and every person, and we should each be willing to inconvenience and even endanger (mild as it may be) ourselves to help others.