Monday, September 27, 2010

Seeing People

More times than not, I think of change as a positive force. But, one of the not so good trends is a lack of basic acknowledgment by people of those around them on the sidewalk, at the store, at the library, etc. A few months ago I had an encounter with a group leader on a temporary job. I was standing three feet away from her, waiting to give her my time sheet, and she absolutely did not acknowledge my presence, not with a word, not with body language, not with a grunt or a hurumph, nothing. I was invisible to her. I wish this had been an isolated instance, but it appears to be the trend. Now I am not saying we have to greet everyone we meet with Namasate or a small town America “How ya doin?” but it would do most of us a lot of good just to be acknowledged with a slight nod or a tiny smile. Some days even a “Get the hell out of my way” would be a boost to people’s self worth; at least they would feel they existed. Alexander McCall Smith touched on that yesterday in his weekend companion to Corduroy Mansions in the Telegraph:

And seeing somebody is immensely important, I think. How many people do we see each day but not see? We walk along the street and are aware of people passing by, but do we see them in the sense of acknowledging their presence? I don’t think we do. Or we carry out the small transactions of life with others, but do we see them in the sense of recognizing their unique existence, their feelings, what it is to be them? Sorry, I don’t mean to sound pretentious, but it’s an important idea.

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