I commute and drive a lot. I drive 44 miles to my office in Newark, New Jersey and 135 miles to my office in Shelton, Connecticut…one way. I also drive 52 miles one way to my Pennsylvania office, just not as often. I drive to my parents, I drive to the food store, I drive, I drive, and I drive. Oh, and I love to drive. I buy nice cars that are comfortable, can go fast and yes, I look good in!
But all this driving does two things. It gives me a lot of time to think. I think about life. I think about problems. I think about work. I think about people. I play out conversations that have occurred to see what I could have done differently. I play out conversations that I want to have to see where they can go. I listen to great music, I sing my heart out. Nobody else can hear me. And yes I talk on the phone, a lot. This think time is sometimes where blogs come from, ideas for work come from or ideas about things I would like to do come from.
Yesterday it dawned on me that this driving is doing something else for me as well. It is showing me what a mean, discourteous, unkind world we really live in today. When you commute like this, and in a state that has more people and cars per capita than anywhere else except perhaps Los Angeles, you get a chance to generally see people at their worst!
The horns blowing when you cannot move anywhere. The people cutting each other in the name of what! Because where you need to get to is more important than where someone else needs to get to! How is your trip more important than anyone else? The jockeying for being in front of someone as you are both trying to weave in traffic to enter a highway amazes me. I watch people almost hit each other and play a game of chicken for no reason. I see people yelling at each other, flipping the bird, and just generally angry.
People seem to disregard alternating cars to weave into traffic. People also seem to disregard basic driving rules, such as not crossing a solid line. That could be my favorite these days, watching people blatantly disregarding a solid line and just moving from lane to lane.
Blatant disregard. That is what I see and my commute is a microcosm of what I think is wrong in today’s society. There seems to me to be a blatant disregard for fellow man. People do not seem to care about each other. They only care about themselves and are mean about it to others.
From differences in opinions, to differing religions, to driving, people just seem to be righteous and focused on their own beliefs, no interest in learning, in seeking to understand others.
What really seems to be missing for me is simple compassion and empathy for each other. I realize that I am sounding a bit preachy and righteous myself as I write this but I am feeling so drained by the unkind world we live in that I felt the need to share what I see. Look at social media as a great example. Someone puts an opinion out there and people pile on either defending their own opinion as the “right one” or they pile on other’s who may have a differing opinion. And nobody seems to do it in a way of seeking to understand another’s point of view or with any respect at all to the fact that we are all allowed to have a different opinion.
I think a lot of this is coming through in the race for the Presidency. I am appalled by the things some candidates are saying as they are just bashing others, not speaking with any kindness or focus on their own view. It is just about being angry. I see this coming through in so many places.
Last year we saw such hatred. Hatred for the most important role in the country just because decisions aren’t the ones we may have made. We don’t have all the information but we have a strong opinion. Hatred for people with a different skin color, again without any real information and certainly without an understanding of the situation. Hatred because people believe in a different religion, again without trying to understand.
All of this hatred and inconsiderate treatment of each other is draining and not helping us heal as individuals or as a society. We are fighting amongst ourselves. Instead we should be caring for and loving each other, understanding each other, and fighting real enemies.
I, for one, am drained from all the hate and lack of compassion. I cannot change the world, I am only one. But I will not let the world change me. I am loving, giving, kind and compassionate and work hard at not letting the rest of society change me. I hope that my one can inspire another one, and another, and another. Perhaps then what I see in my commute will change and what I am seeing in the world will change. I hope and I pray.