Walking down the beach, I wish people a good morning or a fine afternoon. I think of it as my 20-foot civility rule. I feel rude passing anyone that near to me without acknowledging them. I wave to people farther away if we make eye contact.
Sure, there are times that I’m lost in my own little world, concentrating too hard on my beachcombing hobby. I forget my manners and don’t greet strangers.
If I were a member of the zealously conservative Roman Catholic order Opus Dei, I’d find a thick rope, tie a knot in it, and practice self-flagellation. Kidding. I’m kidding. I’ve been on the opposite side of the equation too many times, offering salutations to passersby that go completely ignored, to resort to radical self-discipline.
Sometimes I think people walk with their heads down and refuse to make eye contact because they are living their lives in fear. Living in fear won’t get anyone anywhere. Biases also account for some deliberate discourtesy.
Our society would benefit if people paid more attention to one another. We need to be more courteous to one another. We need to show passersby more respect and more compassion. Sharing greetings and smiles might just help end some of this craziness.
Too many people were killed. For what? Why? I get teary-eyed when I think about the children who will never get to live out their natural lives. Sickening. It’s all sickening to me.
I wonder if the shooters would have followed through with their mass murders if someone, anyone, had truly cared about them.
I’m not offering excuses for those wingnuts. I could have pulled the electric chair switch with a clear conscience if they had been found guilty in a court of law. I could march them down the courthouse steps and put the noose around their necks. No, I’m not God, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once.
I’ve lived with bipolar disorder for 15 years, but I don’t believe mental illness is a legitimate legal defense. Murder is murder.
But I do believe, if we approach those people with the vapid eyes and with those crazy grins on their faces, we can tell them that the world isn’t such a bad place, that there is HOPE, that there are others who care. Embrace them — perhaps in ways that their parents and acquaintances didn’t — and maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t opt in the end to kill innocent people to compensate for the pain they feel, their inner rage, the wrongs they perceive to have been done to them.
Being polite to and showing sincere concern for our fellow human beings won’t solve all our societal woes. But it just might lift one’s spirits from the hellish abyss into which they have dropped.
See ya on the beach. And let’s acknowledge each other.