The main university in the city where I live is renowned (among students, at least) not for its professors or its courses or its research space, but for the unconnectedness of the university population.
I don’t know anyone in my courses.
There’s no discussion during class.
Nobody makes eye contact in the hallways.
Everyone avoids eye contact in the hallways.
The building where I work is renowned (in my opinion, at least) for its friendliness. I have never worked in a building where people are so welcoming, even if I have never seen them before in my life… even if it’s a Monday morning!
Having a busy day today?
Let me get that door for you.
From the lovely cleaning lady who greets me every time she sees me with a Goot mahning!
to the head computer technician who always offers to trade jobs with me to avoid the headaches of his;
to the maintenance guy who tells me about his motorcycle adventures every weekend;
to the scientific director of the other lab who teaches me about Chinese New Year folktales;
to the very cute contractor who smiles and holds the door open for me;
people in this building go out of their way to make eye contact, hold eye contact, and connect with you (whether you really want to or not).
And even if I am busy, even when I do have someplace else to be, that connection with another human makes that moment the most valuable place to exist in. Because that is the power of eye contact: the reminder that in the end, relationships with other people are the only thing that will last.
It’s alarming that of all the things they’re teaching at an institute of higher learning, they’ve not only neglected to teach that most important lesson, but are instead propagating the very opposite. So, what they are teaching is higher than what, exactly?