I’ve been thinking a lot about how little people pay attention to those around them. There have been a number of stories of people passing by strangers on the street who are in obvious distress, like the gay couple who were attacked in broad daylight across from the New Yorker offices while people inside the nearby McDonald’s chose to take photos and video with their phones rather than intervene. Or the complete lack of courtesy displayed to other drivers that is so prevalent on our roads today. Or the incessant bickering, and finger-pointing coming from our nation’s capital.
But, too, we hear the stories of people “paying it forward” – people paying for a family’s meal “just because”, or the athlete giving up his chance to compete to donate bone marrow. And these stories make headlines because they are a bit shocking. People go that much out of their way to help strangers? Yes, yes they do.
It’s called courtesy. It’s called caring for your fellow human. Some call it fellowship, or humanitarianism, or good manners. It’s just caring about people, and not just yourself and your own little world.
In the adolescent stage of human development, the individual is naturally self-centered. There’s a natural, psychological reason why kids that age are so insecure – they really believe everyone is staring at their every pore everyday. Do you remember that? I certainly do. And therefore, everyone must care about everything they do, and therefore, they see themselves as the most important thing in the universe. My point is, it’s a stage in natural human development, and we are supposed to grow out of that, but many of us never do. (And I think that percentage is getting higher, in part helped along by parents raising their children to believe that they are the most important thing in the universe. But I digress.)
I think that the realization that you are not the sun, while everyone else is just flotsam — IN YOUR WAY… I think that’s quite close to the meaning of life. Knowing that we are here, put on this Earth to help each other, and acting upon it in your everyday life and dealings with others has got to be the be-all, end-all.
After these musings had been bouncing around my head for a few days, I saw this video which complemented my thoughts extremely well, except that I don’t think this worldview is dependent on education. I think it’s dependent on being human.