Why is there so much hatred in the world? Where does this deep seeded anger and bitterness towards life itself come from? What would ever motivate another living breathing human being to simply and swiftly steal that breath away from another? What is the answer? It clearly is not a simple one, or we as a civilization would have already figured it out…
I often stand at the cross walk and observe the cars speeding past me, driven by other human beings. I frequently pause and imagine what their lives are like, or wonder where they are going and why are they in such a rush to get there, when life is so short. Those other beings, my neighbors, zip past me. I am certain they are not noticing or observing myself as a pedestrian on the periphreal of their route from A to B. Maybe that’s where some of this problem lies.
A few weeks ago, I was in a car accident. While going south on a one-way in my neighborhood, an SUV turned left into my vehicle from a stop sign. When we got out of our respective cars to assess the damage I noticed two things. Firstly, the annoying fact that my vehicle was badly damaged, and that hers was fine. Secondly, and more importantly here that words she spoke to me: “I didn’t see you at all!” I was confused by this statement on several levels. Logically, I was confused and concerned that she was unable to see my bright red car with lights on driving down the road. I genuinely have concerns about this lass’ visions. Moreover, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically these words were more startling. The phrase “I didn’t see you at all!” points to a larger issue at play in our society. We (general society we) are so very wrapped up in our petty existence, that we genuinely forget that other people exist or that other people matter.
This individual was so wrapped up in her own life, so consumed by her own existence, circumstances that she didn’t even notice another human being physically cross her path. During our conversation, the other driver shared with me that she was going on a first date, new to the city and was generally just flustered and confused. I listened empathetically and assured her that everything was fine, that I was just glad that we were both okay. I even wished her luck on the date, as I left to spend a beautiful evening with my love, a bottle of wine and kung fu films.
Her comment stuck with me though. And as I continued on my daily walks throughout my neighborhood Inoticed more of my neighbors, not noticing. Traffic accidents are a small example of this, but greater acts of violence are also a symptom of this cultural ambivalence. When we, collectively as a society, fail to notice the value of other human life it is very easy to become callous. I am not boiling down our culture’s violence epidemic to an issue of ignorance, but I do feel that a lot of this violence comes from our self-centered society, where we value getting ahead of others rather than pulling together.
If we can begin to shift our focus away from the self and onto the collective; changing our thinking from how can this help me get ahead to how can I help someone else; if we can begin to pay attention, to notice and to truly value the contributions of other beings on this planet, even their simple presence as something wonderful, then I think we can actually come together as a community and work to heal our society.