How do I dissect such an enormous term? Indeed, like most nouns in this world (excluding, of course, “tea party” which pretty much equates to “inexplicable existence”), this one would require countless posts before I could even begin to penetrate its full meaning. In having already begun this task, I have doubly doomed my intentions by surrounding that one word in a sea of other words, though despite being less meaningful in relation to the topic of this discussion, remain, nonetheless, havoc-wreaking in their own subjective definitions.
I got to thinking of thoughtlessness when I was reminded that the word has an unfailing presence in the majority of humans. I spend a large part of every year in Warsaw, Poland (that story will follow another time.) Being unable to speak Polish well enough to hold a conversation, I am often left feeling a bit (very) ignored in social settings.
A guy I know has the tendency to capture many girls in order to prove to himself (and to the world) that he is masculine, attractive and has, well, captured many girls. If there is a female in the room, he will without reservation examine her, approach her, get her number, and then brag about his future plans with her. Each girl, in turn, become his “future wife” (that is, until she is replaced by the next Jane, and is then termed “ex future wife”). And on every such occasion that he forces his current wife’s company on Jak and I, I am, undoubtedly, left ignored. Although they both are almost always capable of speaking English, they refuse to do so. Then they proceed through the entire evening unaware that one of their party has been kicked unceremoniously from the conversation. Thoughtlessness? I believe it to be.
But lets delve deeper. How is it that people can be so invariably unaware of their surroundings, the people in them and their feelings, the full force of their many actions, and the resulting consequences, however minuscule they may be? How is it possible that all of us have been this very word, in all its grammatical forms, so many times? When have I been thoughtless? Well, perhaps just earlier today, when I stubbornly refused to let Jak add raw zucchini to our salad. Or maybe that was just selfishness. Perhaps thoughtlessness was present when I forgot to wish my dear cousin’s daughter a simple “happy birthday” (though that was later rectified by a box of goodies mailed just yesterday). What is thoughtlessness? Does it even exist? I feel it does, otherwise, I would not have written this post. But I think the word is not complete in its own identity, unlike the words “mean” and “aloof”, which have straightforward definitions. Being selfish, as I described earlier, is to be thoughtless as well. Being forgetful, also noted previously, is another version of thoughtlessness. The other variants? When you realize not that someone really doesn’t want to step on the gum you thought wise to spit on the road. Or when you reach the end of your generosity towards your pregnant wife’s belief of entitlement simply because she is suffering a cruel and usual punishment. Or failing to understand that not everyone likes to inhale a cancer-causing phenomenon.
Littering, talking on the phone for more than 3 minutes in company, cutting in line, spitting on the street, remaining unaware of another’s mood despite being right next to them, half-listening, forgetting promises…the list is endless, the definition loose. Anything can be considered thoughtless. So are we forever doomed to be a thoughtless society committing thoughtless acts on an everyday basis? Does its frequency spare it from being labeled a true insult? How do we get rid of thoughtlessness when thoughtlessness is everything bad (and we all know how much we suck in that department)?