humanity, lost

Two things instantly attracted me to djmatticus–his compassion as a husband and a father and his uncanny ability to use the perfect quote from movies that I love. One of the great things about blogging is that you get to “meet” role models of the people you want to become. Matticus is one of those bloggers. When I want to be a better parent, spouse, writer, and human, I head over to his blog: http://thematticuskingdom.wordpress.com/

I’ve lured Matticus out of his kingdom for a little joust at EverydayGurus. He faces you today “as God intended. Sportsmanlike. No tricks, no weapons, skill against skill alone.”

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If you’ve spent any amount of time with me, you will have learned that despite my optimistic outlook, my general silliness, and my overall belief that life is one grand adventure, I am fond of saying that we are doomed.  Look around.  Common sense is a relic.  Doing the right thing is an ancient artifact.  Consideration, reason, logic have become little more than words that I like to take out from time to time, let them taste the air, before I safely hide them away to keep them secure until the world is ready for them again.

Is that too harsh?  Unfair?  Do you think I’m exaggerating?

Perhaps I am.  Perhaps I am taking our lost humanity to an absurd level, because we all know there are good people out there.  We know this, because we know we are good ourselves, right?  Do any of you ever look in the mirror and say, “Yes, I am a terrible person, inhuman, and that’s exactly how I want to be…”?  Of course not.  We may see our flaws staring back at us, but we recognize them as flaws and we hope to be better even if we don’t do anything to actively pursue becoming better.

So, if we don’t see ourselves as having stepped away from the traits that build out our humanity, how can we assume that anyone else has either.  All those monsters we hear about through media, that lady one lane over still talking on her cellphone while she swerves into you, the guy that zips into the parking spot you’ve been waiting patiently to open up, the person at the checkout who waits until everything is wrung up before taking out their checkbook, the person that didn’t hold that door open for you – none of them think of themselves as less than human.

What’s the solution then?  If we all can see that people are acting less and less like people but no one sees that behavior in themselves, how can we change this steady decline back into being animals?  How do we reclaim our humanity?

It starts with us, of course.  We have to pay attention to the world around us.  We all have responsibilities and concerns and important meetings and things we are running late to and this that and the other.  We all have stresses.  We all have struggles.  We need to recognize that.

When the lady one lane over swerves because she is talking on her phone, take a deep breath, and let her and it go.  When the guy steels the parking spot you were waiting for, you will find another one shortly.  When the person doesn’t pull out their checkbook until after all of their items have been bagged at the grocery store, take those extra few seconds to think of something you are happy about.  When the door shuts in your face because the person ahead of you didn’t notice you and hold it for you, make sure you hold the door open for the person behind you.

These seemingly small and insignificant acts are anything but.  The repercussions are astronomical.  When you let go of your anger and laugh off the near accident you will be more mindful of your surroundings and make sure you don’t make the same mistake the lady with the cellphone did.  When you patiently wait for another parking spot to open up you will realize that those couple extra minutes circling the parking lot really didn’t matter, you waste more time with your head in the fridge each night trying to figure out what you want for dinner.  When you think of something happy while waiting for the check to get written it will be your turn that much quicker and your smile will be infectious.  When you hold the door open for someone else that person will hold it for another and they will hold it for another and it will get passed on.

Reclaiming humanity is not an insurmountable challenge.  We just need to do the simple things that used to be common place.  We need to be patient and understanding and considerate.  We need to go back out into the world and do one good deed every day.

What did you do today?

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