Saturday, January 17, 2009

Something I just don't understand...

Here is something I don't understand.

Why have we become so desensitized to one another? How did it happen? When did common courtesy get thrown out the back door with yesterday's trash?

Oh, it's not everybody. We all know that. Whether we'd like to admit it or not, most of us are colored in shades of gray, a little good, a little bad. It makes human beings fascinating, complex, worth of study.

Maybe you can explain this:

I went to Kroger after work tonight. The cupboard and refrigerator were bare. Needed supper.

Along the way I ran into classmate Maggie Meyers. It was good to see a friendly face. We talked briefly. As I turned back to walk toward the milk aisle, I nearly bumped into a woman.

"I'm terribly sorry," I said.

The woman never even looked up.

A few seconds later, I grabbed a jug of skim milk off the shelf. Walking toward checkout, there was no way around another woman also skimming (pardon the pun) for milk, other than walking right in front of her.

"Excuse me," I said as I walked by.

The woman ever even looked up.

Part of this is the "It's All About Me" mentality of our modern life, the prevalent solipsism, the fallout of a society that expects instant gratification. Part of it is a lack of manners. Part of it is just puzzling.

A few weeks before Christmas, I told you about Dean Harned and Mark Padgett's run-in with the injured motorists and the lack of concern by residents in the nearby neighborhood. Amazing. Unbelievable. Sad.

I would like to think we'd go out of our way to say a kind word to somebody who is hurting. I hope we all would take two minutes and call somebody just to say "hello." I need to believe that we would follow the example of the Good Samaritan and never pass to the other side of the road.

We can't always live up to that. I don't. You don't.

But we can try. A reader sent an e-mail saying she wants to give what she'd normally spend monthly on cigarettes (she is kicking the habit as a New Year's resolution) to someone who has lost their job. What a sweet, powerful, wonderful random act of kindness. And guess what? Best part is she wants to do it anonymously. None of this "Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee!"

Treating people with decency is so simple. It can move mountains. And, yet, it seems so impossible for a lot of people.

Driving home, I thought about those two strangers at Kroger. I wondered if troubling circumstances in their lives caused them to be distracted. I wondered if they were simply rude. I would like to think they were hard of hearing.

Maybe I am naive. Maybe I am looking at life through rose colored glasses.

But for the life of me I just don't understand it.


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