When someone we know is admitted into a hospital, social norms dictate that we visit them while they are hospitalised. If unable to do so during that window, those of us who are closely related to the patient, are expected to pay a visit to them in their home, after they have been discharged. That’s the norm, isn’t it?
But, what happens if you’ve already paid a visit once, found that the patient was recovering well, and after a few days find out that he/she has taken a turn for the worse? Should you go again?
What happens if, after your visit, the patient has been sent home, only to be rushed back to the hospital after a day’s rest? Are you expected to re-visit?
What happens if the event in question is not an illness, but the birth of a child? As a mother, you may think that the last thing you want with a newborn is to attend to visitors. Should you extend that kindness to the mother currently in the hospital, and spare her your visit? By doing so, will you be remembered for your generosity of spirit, or for the fact that you did not bother to show up, despite being a close friend or relative?
If the event is, in fact, an illness, should the severity of the illness determine how many times you are expected to visit? Should a recurrence qualify in severity as much as the original ailment? How many visits are adequate?
Yes, there are those among us who are genuinely concerned about the patient in recovery, and would like to show up just to let them know that they are not alone, and that help is at hand. But, the bulk of visitors in any given hospital are there as a social formality, is it not?
Like the ‘hospital dilemma’, I find that many of the social norms we religiously follow, border on sheer absurdity!
We all do it, because every one else is doing it, and because every one expects us to.
Like complimenting the host for a yummy meal. If some do it as a social nicety, and others do it only when they really like the food, how does the host know which is which? Of what use is the compliment to you, if you yourself say such things all the time, without meaning it?
Are we becoming a society that almost never means what it says, or says what it means? What will the world look like if more and more of us head down that path? What will Truth mean in such a world?