We grow up being told never take lollies from a stranger, never get in the car with a stranger and never talk to a stranger.
The meaning behind the repetitive phrases from our parents, our school teachers, and our baby sitters seem to finally kick in at about the age of 6. Before then we are still excited little kids with an endearing trust in everything and anything.
I was sitting in the park the other day with a friend and a little girl, who was about the age of 4, was running around openly absorbing the world with her eyes. She stopped, picked up a headband that was a few meters away from us, and in a surprisingly mature and unintimidated manner casually asked if it was ours. It wasn’t. Which we politely told her. She put the pink headband back down, exactly where she had found it. And walked away. No stranger-danger for her.
Sadly this ease of communicating with strangers doesn’t last.
For the next 15 years of our lives (sometimes more) we avoid ever having to talk more than mumble a few words to strangers. Whether it be in the video shop, the supermarket or to the couple asking for directions. I do understand the need to be alert – there are bad people around with unwelcome agendas – but I feel we have taken it a little far.
It takes most of us at least into our 20′s to become comfortable enough to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger.
To have the confidence that not every single man in the street is a pedophile. All those years of being told the stranger is an enemy is a hard belief to destroy. To try and bring ourselves back to the same raw state that we entered the world in is tough – to that of a trusting human being.
Today I think I have shed most of my stranger-fearing scales. But it was, and still is, a conscious mission. I do see now that great things can come out of talking to new people, which I have thought about in a previous post. But today I am really encouraging the fall of stranger-danger.
This photo was taken as part of a ‘professional’ Yammer photo shoot. As you can see, we encourage people to talk to strangers which I think is awesome. I am definitely in the right place.