Its easy to engage in the frivolous pastime of forming ill-conceived opinions about complete strangers.
We have all indulged in the delicious pleasure of walking past someone on the street and forming a scathing judgement on who they are as a person, based on how they present themselves to the world. Sometimes, it can just be the look on their faces. You all know them. Those faces that require a good punch to even them out, thereby balancing the fabric of the universe.
And if that strange individual has the temerity to engage in some kind of an affront against you, its even more compelling to engage. That person sitting next to you on the bus who takes up just a bit too much personal space. That customer service representative who doesn’t fulfil your exact specifications of how you demand to be treated. How could these stupid buffoons be so inconsiderate to your needs?
No matter how much of an altruist, benevolent member of society you consider yourself to be, you have experienced this. Its human nature to consider those that we don’t know as some kind of enemy, who has conspired from the moment they rise from bed that day to bring unpleasantness to our lives.
But, if you escape the unrelenting solipsism that forms the basis of your day-to-day activities, you’ll realise that the schmuck that isn’t paying attention to the details of your mocha-double-shot-latte, could be experiencing a range of emotions or shitty situations, just like you.
That petulant knob who seems to have an attitude problem because he doesn’t have complete enthusiasm for the fact you require a specific sprocket pump for your Kelvinator might have a sick mother in a hospital 50 kilometres out of town.
That utterly annoying phone call at 7:30pm when you are about to sit down to your linguini might be a result of a single parent who is working a shithouse telemarketing job to feed her five-year old child. And chances are, that person who caused your life to be such a living hell might not be having the best of experiences right then either. At least you’ll get to sit down to a beautiful dinner after the call. She has another 189 people on her list.
Its not to suggest that we shouldn’t get annoyed by pains in our backsides. But, in the moment of being subjected to unpleasentries, its easy to get lost in the details of our own suffering, and fail to look outwardly at the people who might also be experiencing something equally as woeful.
It only takes a moment to snap yourself out of your continued campaign of ‘me-as-the-centre-of-the-universe’. When you do, you’ll see that really, we are all in this together.