Scene: My neighbors often have small gatherings next door. They huddle about right on the property line. Although that line is not clearly marked, we both instinctively know where it is and neither of us ever crosses it.
I think of all the species on the planet there is probably none as obsessed with marking, defending and rarely sharing personal space more than humans. If we find a means of transport we put a tag on it (whether it be a license plate for a car or a brand for a horse). When we build a house, in the majority of the world, we never ever forget to put a lock on the door. Many go even further and build a fence, sometimes even electrifying it, just to make sure the possibility of making new friends, whether human or canine, is as remote as we wish it to be.
It’s a pretty obvious concept really. If we spent even half as much effort to open our lives to others as we do to control their access to ours, it’s not hard to imagine that the world would be a very different place. I waved at them yesterday and while at first they hesitated they did eventually wave back. There is a first step for everything, although they are probably googling me now just as I will them.
Scene: Sitting in front of my computer as I typically do for countless hours everyday I came to the realization that they were right to being with – the world is flat.
Back in olden times when globes were first invented, people spun the sphere around and pointed to this and that – either places they had been or dreamed they could go to. It represented our world in its entirety.
Now as the vast majority of people spend hours on end on computers, their entire world view is encapsulated in a four sided, flat box. We have far more information at our fingertips than our ancestors had when touching the sphere, but are we more advanced? Or do the countless hours we spend chatting about meaningless things, watching kitty videos, playing Candy Crush and the like mean that just as our world has “flattened” so too has our willingness to explore beyond the bounds of what is known and tirelessly shared in the 2-D universe we immerse ourselves in daily?
Ironically as our “universe” has expanded, it has simultaneously contracted. The question is whether or not we are in a state of stable equilibrium or whether the contractions are winning the war against the struggles of the few and far between who want to build a boat and set sail beyond the browser.
Scene: An elderly lady who is part of an online embroidery group created a pattern consisting of intersecting geometric shapes. Right in the center of her design were a series of swastikas. Not only did she not notice, countless people commented on her design praising it – all clearly oblivious to what was smack dab in the middle.
Of course she clearly had no intent of spreading Nazi propaganda – at least one would assume that given the nature of the group. Still it is interesting how some of us immediately zero in on negative symbolism – either as a matter of sensitivity towards often maligned segments of society to which we either belong or are sympathetic towards – or we simply block the clear infraction of political correctness or unpleasant historical memory from our sight through ignorance or apathy.
Being vigilant about detecting evil in one’s midst puts you in the uncomfortable position of feeling constantly obligated to ignite confrontation which is a bitter pill to swallow for mild mannered people. It’s a bit like litter on the sidewalk. We all see it, but how many of us get our hands dirty by bending down to pick it up so as to put it in the trash bin where it belongs?
Of course vigilant anti-hate crusading can lead to outright paranoia as well – which unfortunately is extremely contagious. Shutting down all conversations, assuming undeclared motivations and twisting things to fit profiles are the types of hyper realized “social consciousness” that start wars.
It’s a delicate balance. After all who knows? There are those that consciously or subconsciously include such motifs in the seemingly most innocent of places with mischief in mind – either reflecting a subconscious deep seated sympathy with something that widely deviates from societal norms, or a more devious intent to sew seeds yet again that have been tirelessly eradicated and then subversively replanted time and again throughout history. So the big question – do I tell her that her geometric flowers are swastikas?
Scene: A man riding a Segway up the road was attaching pink plastic bags to each mailbox he passed.
I thought it rather odd to see a man on a Segway in Suburbia to begin with – particularly in lower income Suburbia. There was a note attached to the pink plastic bag. It asked that you fill the bag with unwanted clothes and leave it on your doorstep. Someone would be by in the coming days to collect the donations for abused women.
The bag was rather small, you would be lucky to fit a single shirt and pair of pants in it let alone anything else. Not to mention why doesn’t he donate the money that Segway must have cost? It seemed a superficial attempt to put a very small band aide on a very large societal wound whose fissure sadly never seems to close.
Weeks later those small, empty plastic pink bags are rotting on the mailboxes and in the trash bins of practically every house on my street. Unnoticed or discretely removed to be rendered unseen just like so many in our society whose cries for help are so rarely heard.