The world we live in tends to see everything mechanistically or physically alone. They don’t understand that there is some invisible dimension to our experience. To everything. Even to nature. And so we tend to reduce things too much. – Thomas Moore
I am certainly guilty of this. At heart, I think this may even be the root of all evil: Human ability to overthink and under-think simultaneously.
Specifically when it comes to the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Not “Do what you think they deserve.”
Not “Do as they have already done unto you.”
Treat people how YOU would WANT to be treated. Don’t scream. Don’t yell. Don’t threaten. Don’t insult. Prioritize those people you hope will prioritize you. Apologize. Send gifts. Give hugs. Say thank you.
This world is merciless even before you add humans to the mix. Ours is the only species that judges one another. For having sex. For belly fat. For flatulence. For sadness.
In the animal kingdom, a cat can abandon its kittens without the other cats meowing about how terrible she is. In fact, the most common reaction amongst other felines – and squirrels, sometimes dogs, and the occasional rabbit – is adoption. Mothers of other babies simply take these helpless kittens to nestle them among their biological offspring and raise them as their own.
Which highlights two big issues with humanity.
- We judge.
- We don’t act to better the situations on which we pass judgment.
If I’m being honest? I have road rage.
Not where I speed through school zones or weave in and out of traffic or take out my baseball bat when someone cuts me off. But I do call people names.
A lot of them.
Because, no matter how I try not to, I have reduced the people in those cars to just another set of wheels on the road. I am unable to see the picture in a whole enough way to grow the other vehicles into humans who are having bad days or made a mistake. To me, they’re just dangerous idiots who belong in the backseat, not behind the wheel.
Interestingly enough, this is not a logic I generally apply to animals or babies, though if that is due to my assumption that grown adults should have more self-control and knowledge than dogs or because I simply can’t bring myself to feel animosity towards the tiny faces of helpless creatures, I’m not sure. But, when a baby does something rude or disgusting, I blame it on its parents or on the fact that it has no idea what it’s even doing. If I get bit by a dog, my first question is: Why did the dog bite? Was it scared? Was I disrespectful of the signs it tried to give me to stay away? Did it have a traumatic past?
When an adult yells at me, my first thought is: What a total bitch/douchebag. What gives them the right to treat me that way?
What it comes down to is this: I need to be better.
I need to remember that the voice on the other end of the line on a particularly annoying phone call or the car that comes to a complete stop to make a right turn belong to humans just like me. That maybe they are as frustrated or overwhelmed as I am.
I’ve always prided myself on my treatment of cashiers, call center employees, and customer service personnel. In my work at my local hospital, I’ve learned to watch patients and visitors for signs of distress or confusion and to take steps to alleviate these emotions instead of allowing myself to fall immediately into the lap of impatience when exposed to them. Because, even when they seem nonsensical, people usually do have a reason for the things they do: Be it trauma, mental illness, the realization that they told their blind wife they’d be home in an hour and it’s been three, or just plain old ignorance.
I had a conversation with a coworker yesterday that keeps springing to mind as I write this: People do things to others with the expectation of forgiveness without spending a moment considering how they would feel if this was done to them. It’s so easy to forget – experiencing things entirely from your own perspective every single day – that other people have eyes, too. They see things. They have emotions, too. They feel things. They have ears, too. They hear things.
People are people. I am a person. No matter how desperately I want to be a cat, I am still a person and, as a person, if I don’t deserve something to be said or done to me, neither do I have the right to do it to anyone else.
Disclaimer: Cats abandoning their kittens isn’t a good thing, just like humans abandoning their babies is not a check in the “okay” section.