January 29, 2012

Where have they gone?

Fair Warning: I've not had a good day.  This post may be taken as me getting up on my soap box.  I also may lose my thought-train in here somewhere... nothing new, really.  Read if you want, comment if you want... Just don't judge too quickly.  Or too harshly... I'm pretty tired.

I'm getting frustrated with this city; the grey, cold, hard face of it, weathered and cynical and completely... hard.  Rude and angry and mean.  It's all of the people, it's the weather, the seasons... On Facebook today, an old friend asked: in today's society, does being polite to a stranger make you look like a jerk to people around you?  I wanted to respond with: No, in this city it makes you look crazy.  And not the happy crazy.

I didn't.

Today, as I was walking to catch a bus, a random stranger passing me on the street said "...Sad, isn't it?"  I looked over to where he was pointing, and saw a cat laying dead near a tree.  It wasn't the stillness of the cat that I noticed first, it was the fact that the cat was, from my vantage, inside a plastic grocery bag. 

I lost it.  I lost control, and I cried until my body ached.  Adam and I (carefully and hygenically) moved the poor thing away from the tree because there were children near by, and because there are often dogs walking past, and because I couldn't just leave it there, exposed and alone.

Am I crazy?  Probably.  Am I too sensitive?  Certainly.  But it's life.  It's life and it deserves goodness, not to be tossed out or victimized or assaulted... Not like that.  Small amounts of love and kindness.  But lately, it seems like both of those things are in short supply.

Thing is, being polite, being nice, being courteous and kind... it's lost.  Being a good person has gotten so hard in this world, that people now find common manners strange and so outside of the ordinary... I don't know.  Acts of violence and depravity have become so common and usual that most just shrug them off.

I thought someone had put that cat in a bag and done... something to it.  Something horrible.  Something unconscionable.  I'm not sure that is what actually happened, but I'm pretty sure that a lot of people would call me "silly" or "ridiculous" for doing anything more than carrying on.  I don't think it's silly.  I think taking the time to move the body of that little stranger out of harms way was very brave, especially in an era where the same respect isn't always afforded for the bodies of man.  And if you think otherwise, there's the proverbial door.

I'm not religious.  Not even a little; in fact, I think organized religion and the corporation of the church usually cause a lot more problems than they solve.  I'm reasonably certain that the recovered bodies of animals, wild or domestic, are cremated for a variety of reasons.  I find that comforting.  Peaceful.  It's not so much "ashes to ashes", but I see it as a release of spirit.  Setting something free into the atmosphere. 

I've been trying, really trying to put good out there.  Vibes, thoughts, positive energy into the universe.  It doesn't seem to be returned.  I'm frustrated with this city, because I'm becoming more and more certain that the good people, the ones who... well, the ones who are genuinly good, without incentive, are simply fading away.  I think this is happening because, like me, they're getting frustrated and jaded.  Or maybe we're all just a little too tired.

Adam and I have been watching The West Wing.  It's a good show, it's smart, it's gripping, and it has some really strong values that I think get missed.  This particular episode we're watching tonight, "20 Hours in America Part II", has a speech that I always remember.  Tori Amos is singing "I Don't Like Mondays" in the background as President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) says this:

"...More than any time in recent history, America's destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedoms and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people's strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive. Forty-four people were killed a couple hours ago at Kennison State University; three swimmers from the men's team were killed and two others are in critical condition; when after having heard the explosion from their practice facility they ran into the fire to help get people out... ran into the fire. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They're our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless..."

If kindness is the challenge, if being a good person is the challenge, if acting in compassion when all others would call you "simple" is the challenge... If evil isn't as horrible and enormous and grotesque as we imagine it and it really IS the willingness of the good to do nothing, then I truly hope that this is only a plateau, and that the capacity for good is truly limitless. 

No comments: