The other day someone I knew was preaching at some of us that we have become a nation of heartless people. No one cares about anyone else now, and her take on it was that everyone is self-contained, and they don’t have time or energy left for others.
I listened to her rant for a bit, and then it was either put my foot in her rear or set her straight about a few things. My response to her was, “It’s been my experience we get in return what we give.” And with that, I turned and walked away from this miserable soul, although I believe I heard some cheering from the rest of the group.
I don’t believe we’ve become a heartless people at all. As a matter of fact, I’ve proven that fact by my own experience. My family has been going through some very difficult times in the past few months, and I’ve had tremendous support from people who know me well and many who have only met me through my writing. Not only have they expressed concern, many have offered to help in any way possible. Now, I ask you, how could I consider people in general heartless after that?
I find it interesting that in an era of cell phones, FaceBook, MySpace and such, there is probably more communication going on around us than there has ever before, yet people seem less sociable. I think it’s probably more that our social lives have become one-sided.
Take FaceBook, for example. I’ll be honest and say I post very little on the site, yet I read a lot of what’s posted. It’s almost like watching others through their windows. Many will tell me where they hurt on their bodies, what they’re doing during the day, and lots of them will show me pictures. I can respond or not respond, my choice. But it doesn’t feel like it does when I actually sit in a room and talk with someone.
Cell phones, too, to me seem to be more of a one-sided convenience. I’m driving down the street and walking through Walmart and thought I’d give you a call to tell you. Okay. I can remember when people actually called to tell you something relevant. I think a lot of times some of these people are just bored and thought they’d invite you to be bored with them.
Are we a heartless people? I don’t think so. I think we just become wrapped up in our little world. It takes a Haiti or something to get our attention sometimes. But I like to think that most are like my friends who respond so dramatically when they come in contact with someone suffering. Sometimes, we just need to get off our phones and computer and truly look at someone in front of us.
And as a final thought, I’ll leave you with a an old joke I heard about the preacher going to visit an old man who was a member of his church. As he sat there, the telephone rang a number of times. The old man didn’t answer the phone. Like many of us, a ringing phone disturbed the preacher, so he finally had to ask, “Are you not going to answer your phone, Mr. Jones?” Mr. Jones’ reply was, “No, I’m not going to answer it. I bought that phone for me to use, not other people.” I’m beginning to think Mr. Jones would feel right at home today.