When I make the time to reflect on the kind of living that surrounds me, forebodings creep forward about our collective future. Noticing and commenting is a kind of resistance to what doesn’t work. Here are a few callouts.
The custom (when and where did it start?) of including a gender designation after your name seems to be tightening its throat-hold on Zoom and other video conferencing platforms.
Why would one feel the need to advertise their gender identity? Why would anyone care to know? It’s become one more socially ‘correct’ but useless affectation.
Our body’s auditory apparatus delivers delights and aggravation. For me, the delights include birdsong and odd, sometimes hilarious, bits of conversation by passers-by. City-life aggravations abound: infernal leaf-blowers, jackhammers, garbage trucks, ranters. Often these aural intrusions are mercifully short-lived. Part of the package.
Our hearing also delivers early warnings with survival implications. Who might be approaching from behind? Who might be calling for help? Why would anyone impose relative deafness on themselves walking in an urban environment? Earbuds worn in public disable the user. Possibly this is an inadvertent technological instrument for clearing the gene pool.
I Won’t Know You
When I walk my neighborhood, I usually greet passersby – a simple “Hi” or ‘Good Morning.’ In most cases, people look away or do not respond. Sometimes this a result of the earbud phenomenon. Other times it’s a human whose mind it stranded elsewhere.
We are drifting a long way from vaunted notions of – or aspirations to – community when acknowledging another’s presence is too much effort. We’ll remain isolated strangers until we make even the smallest efforts to connect.
Urban Trash Pit
The City of Oakland (California), where I live, gets trashier by the day. People can be standing a few steps from a trash bin and still drop their fast-food and packaging on the sidewalk or street or park. Entire streets are festooned with human detritus. Our central-city lake, a major bird habitat, reveals, especially at low tide, all sorts of careless leavings, from scooters and clothing to the ubiquitous plastic bottles and beer cans.
Even primitive societies employed designated trash pits. How have we managed to devolve to this level of sprawling trashiness?
Oh, and graffiti: Most of it looks like miserable artless attempts to say “Look at me! I’m here.” How do we motivate taggers to consider more productive direction for their inclinations with paint?
Our Human Tribe
These details of living add up to either a buy-in or a rejection of community. Though I admit to liking humans less and less, I recognize that we are ‘stuck’ with each other. We have to live with the living.
We can choose grace and accountability in strengthening our human tribe. Those qualities prefigure intelligent responses to events we carelessly believe won’t happen here: food and water shortages, riots, looting, and war. With Trump and the pandemic, we got a scary preview. We have to be and do better. It’ll work if women lead the way.