Seeing humanity

It’s easy to forget the humanity of the people around me, how interconnected I am to everyone I encounter. Mind you, it’s not intentional. But at times, when I am absorbed in my own agenda and plans, thinking whatever it is on my mind is paramount, then the people who surround me become incidental. It’s not intentional meanness on my part. But I seem to forget about anyone’s world but my own.

Without realizing it, people become byways and tools to incorporate in my own plans. I’m still civilized, but I just move on to the next thing without stopping to remember that I just dealt with a person with the same human needs as I. It’s pretty benign, or at least it is easy to rationalize to myself that it is. It’s not like I don’t say excuse me when I bump into people when I am in this state. It’s not like I literally knock someone over to get to the next thing on my personal list.

But I wonder really how benign it is. By cutting off the people around me, however subtly I do it, is the beginning of seeing them as less than human. It is the small crack in the door which if pursued long enough down the road of rationalization, leads to seeing people as nothing but tools. I wonder about what that seed can lead to. A friend becomes not a friend, but a dumping ground to transfer emotional garbage to. An online colleague or friend is not a person, but an avatar that you can delete at will without consequence. A lover is no longer a lover, but a drug. Further down the line, people become issues to overcome in a therapy office, or talking heads to yell at on a television. They become causes to save, or the more ominous flip side, scourges to purge. They are something Other, and when the genocide commences, people wonder what happened to turn neighbor against neighbor.

I’m no expert at this. I’m only some Westerner with a four year degree in from a state university. But it makes me wonder, maybe the whole reason why someone became a scourge, why a lover became a drug, or why a person became an issue can be traced back to that one small seed. Maybe it began when in a moment of haste, a person like myself forgot that the person in front of them on line in the grocery store was a fellow human being. A broken windshield many times starts with a small fracture. To heal the wound, it is good to go to the source. Maybe the chance encounter with the one in front of me is where it begins.

3 Responses to “Seeing humanity”

  1. Tori W says:

    Loved this article. Thank you and yes, I have done this to. I think the solution is to always try to remain “in the moment.” This is a difficult concept to always grasp, but remaining in the moment is that element of self awareness of our surroundings and the people we encounter. Thanks, T.

    • Jessica says:

      I agree with you; in my experience, self-awareness is key. Of course, life has its agendas and there are things to get done. But remaining aware of my emotions, thoughts, and surroundings, as well as the people around me is key to living well in the moment, at least from what I have seen. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Jessica, this is a lovely post—candid, insightful, and sincere. And you’re right. I wonder how many crimes and misdemeanors we could prevent just by taking a moment to connect with someone in passing.

    (Hope you got my response to the comment you left a while back on my blog.)

    Now I’m eager to read more of your posts!