“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandi
It sometimes strikes me how often we complain about one thing or another or see behavior we can easily criticize. The world is rapidly changing, and with more and more people involved with texting and their iPhones, etc., it sometimes seems like a less and less friendly world. Certainly, it can seem like a less considerate one.
But really, this is just the current manifestation of what sometimes looks like the breakdown of civilized society. It’s taken on many different faces over the years.
About 16+ years ago, I moved out to this side of the state of New Jersey to a far kinder and gentler life. My county is highly agricultural. There’s still lots of open space, both fields and woods, and it’s inhabited by a lot of people who still have a connection to the land and to nature. It’s a very different mindset than the bustling city, cool as that was when I lived there, or even towns in the suburbs, which still have a very active lifestyle, as did mine.
In my little newfound town in Western NJ was something that, to me, epitomized the gentler mentality out here … a one way railroad trestle underpass. The trestle is over a well-traveled two-lane blacktop connecting the areas south of it to the very busy Route 78, a mile to the north, which runs across the state, just about into the Hudson River and NYC. What I so loved about this spot was that everyone took turns when they were coming or going under this little one way underpass. “After you.” “Go ahead,” they waved. Civilization at its best.
Then they started building the McMansions. With them came a whole lot of people in a big hurry to get to Rt. 78 and their hellish commute to points East. And there went the civility. The motto of these people was “I’m going to get me mine.” And they pushed through, ten cars at a time, if needs be, to make sure they did. But the good thing?
We “locals”, as I suppose we are, didn’t go that route. We kept on waving the next car through the narrow passageway. If we didn’t get to pass for a few cars, so be it. And I still do that every time I get to that train trestle. Some of the oncoming drivers look surprised. Most wave thanks, just as we all always have. Do those of us who support this small kindness make a difference?There’s no way of knowing. But I still see lots of people taking turns.
What is true, is that by joining the ranks of the inconsiderate and rude, nothing will change for the better. So we can be the change we wish to see in the world, or add to the problem. I believe that whatever we do positive in this world does make a difference. So feel free to wave me on when you get to the underpass, and I’ll do the same for you.
Today, Memorial Day, we can all be a change we’d like to see and it just takes a second and a show of appreciation. Thank a vet.