The Missionary Virtue of Noticing People
Posted on November 13, 2009
I take some local young guys on outdoor trips as a way of opening up their lives to new experiences and opportunities. We sat down to ‘frame’ the experience of climbing a mountain, so that they could see the mountain in metaphorical terms. One boy was being really disruptive until I mentioned an observation of him I had made. He shut up immediately and listened intently. My observation was pretty mundane, but he didn’t care – he simply loved being noticed.
After returning a young man to his residential unit (where he lives), his 2 housemates both started mooning our car, despite the best efforts of their workers to raise the level of the conversation and their shorts.
What we give to get noticed! I get noticed all the time, having a job that involves facilitation and training groups, but I always like it. As a secondary school teacher, I found that young people were always trying to get noticed: through acting up, excelling at something. Even those people who seem to love hiding away in a corner so no-one mentions their existence appreciate quiet acknowledgement.
It’s not just young people and children who love attention, though. Adults seem to thrive on it. I know I do. I think it comes back to the fact that we are mostly cowards. When people notice our efforts it gives us the courage to keep going.