I’m not certain that it’s always blindness that keeps us from seeing the problems around us every day. To an extent, it’s apathy. Or a desperate feeling of hopelessness to affect the situation, so we do nothing. Whatever the reason, doing nothing when we should do something is as bad as ignoring or turning a blind eye to the injustices around us.
It is easy to throw up our hands in defeat. “That giant is to big. You’ll never defeat him.” It’s easier to drive past the man with the sign. We look the other way, pretending to be preoccupied, hoping he doesn’t make eye contact so we won’t feel obliged to give him the change in our cup holder.
We have all been in that situation. It’s easier to look away. If we don’t, we may give empathy an opportunity to change our perspective.
I often see strangers I pass on the street or in a store and wonder, “What’s their story? What brought them to this moment in their lives? How are they coping with life’s trials?” So many times I walk past that person with a scowl on their face, avoiding any form of engagement for fear I might make them angrier. But maybe, in their moment, they need to hear a kind word or be greeted with a comforting smile.
I’m not presuming to tell you that you should go out into the mall and attempt to solve all the problems of each person you see by a simple smile or a hello. I’m not saying that you should give money to every person you pass on a street corner. I’m not even saying you have to reach out to that neighbor that no one knows who seems to have isolated themselves from the community around them.
I’m simply saying start with one.
One smile. One hello. One moment to get past the snap judgement that the person on the corner is a lazy alcoholic. Try to understand that there is a person there that needs to feel loved and cared for, just like you. Don’t rush out the door with your cape, ready to cure all societies ills in one fell swoop. Edna warned us about capes. They drag us down, choking the very life out of us because we can’t possibly bear all that extra weight. But we can help one or two carry their load.
Look past the differences you see and find the things that make us alike. Even if you have to start with the basic principles of food, oxygen, and water, start somewhere. Because we all need those basic essentials to live. And we all need love. We need each other.