Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we really stopped to consider that we are social creatures by divine design, interdependent on purpose, and intricately connected to the people and things around us. Most of us are so focused on our individual lives and agendas that we rarely stop to think about how we impact other people and the world, and vice versa. Seems like we are more akin to a bunch of mini islands haphazardly bumping into each other, as opposed to connected creatures sharing more than just air and space...until something happens to remind us that we really are in this thing together.
As I was preparing a few discussion questions on the movie Crash for my psychology classes, I was reminded of how often tragic circumstances are the ties that reconnect us in our humanity. We can share air and space with the same people for years and never even notice the color of their eyes, no less learn their names. But when tragedy strikes, it seems like the vulnerability of a shared tragic experience breaks down barriers, causing otherwise disconnected people to lean in towards each other for support. Consider the sharp rise in patriotism that followed 911. The frailty of humanity becomes far more apparent when we're vulnerable. Unfortunately, it usually doesn't take long for us to migrate back to our "island" status after regaining our footing. And that's sad.
If we are, in essence, created with the same primary needs and desires, imagine how much better our individual lives would be if we were more considerate of each other's needs. How much better off would you be if, while looking out for myself, I was looking out for you? And if while looking out for yourself, you were looking out for me? Double your pleasure! Sounds like a pretty good deal to me! History has consistently shown us that not only do we fare better in terms of resources when we are more interdependent or connected, but we're far better off in terms of our physical, emotional and psychological health. It just helps us have to have a better quality of life overall. And who doesn't want a better quality of life?!
Reality is, whether we care to acknowledge it or not, we really are all in this thing together. Just ask the residents of Flint, MI who share the manufactured crisis of contaminated water. If the same people whose negligence created the crisis simply did the right thing and looked out for the residents that are suffering, in the same way that they've been looking out for themselves, how much different the circumstances would be. Actually, the circumstances probably WOULDN'T be. Perhaps there is some tiny discussion somewhere about the ripple effects of the tragedy. I haven't heard. Nonetheless, those who are responsible will NOT go unaffected. It's a lose/lose for everyone.
How well do you know the impact that you have on the world around you? Are you the person who sneezes and coughs incessently in the crammed elevator, without covering your mouth? Do you walk out of a door and just let it close on the person coming behind you? If you see someone trip and fall, do you attempt to help them up, or just step over them? Are you the person who leaves your shopping cart in the middle of the last parking space at the grocery store? Despite how seemingly insignificant the gestures, they can make a tremendous difference in the lives of those who are being considered. So here's the challenge...take advantage of the itty bitty opportunities to be more considerate of the world around you. Look out for other folks, as you'd want them to look out for you, and see what difference it makes to even YOU. Believe it or not, it's often contagious. And besides, unless you have some other private air or space on reserve in another galaxy somewhere, we're all going to continue to just be in this thing together. Might as well make the best of it.