We all have those hard things in our lives. We all have our burdens. Our plights.
Do some have it worse than others? Are some loads heavier? I wonder about all of this. About certain individuals. I wonder about entire groups of people sometimes. You see, I expect those people to be open-minded and accepting. I want them to be able to consider and contemplate a wide field of ideas. Yet, here I sit, and I don’t think these folks are “seeing” things they way I think they should be seeing things. How’s that for flipping my feet from one side of the fence to the other?
I must remind myself.
“Be Kind. For everyone you meet is going through a hard battle.” — Socrates
But sometimes, in life, when we are in certain situations — any of us — we lack empathy. We forget to realize that another person has it harder. And this part is where I get upset.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald
Take the guy you saw on the news tonight. Whoever he was. Arrested for armed robbery, and leading police on a high speed chase, trying to avoid them. You see, most of us here, reading my little column, weren’t born in cockroach-infested apartment, hearing gunshots every night behind the walls next door. Our mothers weren’t crack addicts, and we were not left in dirty diapers 90% of the time. Most of us didn’t have to guess who our fathers were. We just knew that the guy who was with Mom right now, the drunk guy on the couch, liked to put cigarettes close to our skin until it burned. Most of us weren’t hungry during our entire infanthood. And when we were old enough to walk, we didn’t have to start looking for ways to eat, and take care of ourselves. So when someone set down a little bag of groceries in the hallway while they carried other things inside, we grabbed it, and we ate whatever was inside. We had to smack the cockroaches away, because they were hungry too. And all of this? Today was our second birthday. And by the time we are six, and able to walk down to the corner store, we are getting good at stealing what we need. We have to, if we want to survive. This continues. It snowballs. It escalates. We learn if we need money, we have to run drugs. We don’t have skills. No one has ever taught us anything, except for how to fire a handgun. So we do. And tonight, after 23 years, we’ve landed on the evening news. With a bunch of white people looking at us, shaking their heads, calling us worthless evil trash.
No. Most of us didn’t have to do all that. We grew up on farms with green grass, and the smell of hay. We had warm plates of biscuits on the freshly scrubbed dinner table, and cold milk from our very own cows. We learned how to mend fences and plant seeds. Our fathers taught us that. Our clothes were hung out on the line to dry. Our moms were insistent about this. And when we dressed for school in the morning, our shirts smelled like the clean of the pure wind from the day before. We go to church on Sunday, and sing our praises to the good God who provides for us. We’ve never met the guy on the evening news who doesn’t have a reason in the world to believe there is a loving god.
We cannot know what they have known. This could be about that guy on the news. It could be about a human rights violation. It could be anything.
I sit here with a lot of anger about a lot of things, because I don’t think people take the time to consider the whole of things sometimes.
And because of my disdain for this, I have to put myself in the very same category.
We have to think larger. And open our hearts.
And sometimes, we just don’t feel like doing either.
“It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.”
― Albert Camus, Neither Victims Nor Executioners
The job of the thinking people is to understand. A lot of times we do not.
“Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.”
― Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book
We just need compassion. It is a necessity. Without compassion, humanity doesn’t have a very good chance. Not at all.
“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune