We’re Every Single Last One of Us In the Same Boat
. . . that infinitesimal unit on whom the world depends — Carl Jung —
I woke up this morning with the thought that at this very moment as I was lazily lounging around in my bed very bad things were happening to people. They’re being mugged, they’re being pushed in front of a subway train, they’re desolate and contemplating suicide, they’re dying and they don’t know why. It was a strange thought to greet the day with but for a moment it opened my mind to everyone else in the world besides myself. This is not typical for me since the quadrants of my mind usually consists of me, myself and I with the occasional thoughts about other people thrown in for variety.
But it started me thinking, what if the entire human population now existing on the planet mattered to me. What would happen if I could feel that their existence was fundamentally no different than my own. Could I bump my self off of the throne of my own ego and acknowledge that every single person is living a life that is as important and vital to them as my own is to me? I wonder what that would feel like.
I’m not proud to admit that I normally view people as a nameless, faceless horde I’m trying to avoid: crashing into with my car, bumping carts with at the supermarket, or stepping on each other’s feet on a hot day in Disneyland. Things to maneuver around.
If I start to imagine these things as more than objects with a mind and spirit, enduring struggles, attempting to live just as I am, is that how to open up my own navel gazing self to seeing all the other selves? And since I am well acquainted with what it is to be human, why am I so limited in my ability to cut other humans some slack?
My main excuse is that I live in the big city and city living can make you hard hearted. You learn early, either by experience or reading the news, that it is vital to protect yourself from the occasional crazy or crazily angry person who by population numbers alone is more likely to cross your path. Small towns with their limited number of people give you the advantage of knowing ahead of time who the crazies are so you can give them a wide berth as you run around doing errands.
In this way I have learned to dehumanize all the humans I wend my way around because everyone is potentially stranger danger. Making a bee line with no eye contact is way more time efficient and possibly safer. What feels really strange is when I leave the city and go on a hike everyone I come across will usually nod their head and say hello. This seems to hold true in many small towns or any other place where there is a smaller concentration of humans roaming around it. Do we feel our common humanity when we aren’t on top of each other and crowding each other out? Is it a spatial thing?
Maybe in those less dense areas we aren’t as inclined to turn each other into objects because we’re fewer and farther between. We may even feel happy to come across one another. So rather than hoisting up our city living shield, we can look each other in the eye and recognize what we hold in common. You and me, we’re walking down the same road, we’re breathing this same air, we’re searching for similar things and one day, you and me, we will take our final bow and simply disappear.
Hey, fellow human. I feel you.