Why bother? That’s what I often ask myself when extending even the most basic of courtesies to my fellow human beings. Why bother, if there’s clearly no intention for (many) others to return the favor?
I’m a hell of a nice guy. I’m a hell of a courteous guy. I try to live as “moral” a life as possible. I also happen to be a hard-core atheist (yes, bible-thumpers, you can (gasp!) be an atheist and still be morally sound). If you throw out the “god” part of the equation, I do happen to believe in most of the basic tenets of Christianity. Do unto others…right? Seems like it should be a pretty universally accepted credo, regardless of your personal beliefs.
In reality though? Not so much. Again…Why bother? Why bother being kind to your fellow human beings when so many others clearly couldn’t care less about anyone but themselves? I don’t care what your personal belief systems as, as long as you maintain basic civility and respect for others. I do believe the true “heart” of a human being is pretty evident when you observe their every day interactions in society.
This morning, as with every other weekday morning, I dropped my son off at school. There’s a loop where parents drive through, drop their child off, and continue through the loop. It’s a busy area in the morning, and I always try to be courteous by quickly moving through after my son exits the car. Three times this week (twice the same person), someone has parked their car in the drop-off lane, gotten out, and walked into the school with their child, rather than parking in the parking lot mere yards away. In the meantime, cars behind the parked car in the loop must wait or maneuver around. Where’s the consideration for others? Is it worth inconveniencing others, just to save yourself from walking an extra 10 yards from the parking lot? Do people like this carry the same sort of “me first” attitude in all their other human interactions?
Why bother? Why bother with basic courtesies when so many ignore them? After dropping my son off this morning, I needed to go through the ATM. There was a car in front of me, and after her transaction was complete, she gathered the receipt, closed the window…and proceeded to sit there for at least a full two-minutes before finally pulling away. Putting materials away, I assume, then a cell-phone conversation that started, all while she was oblivious to the (now) 2 people in line behind her. If I’m in line in that situation and see people behind me, when the transaction is complete, I’ll take my receipt/money, pull ahead a bit so the next person can start their transaction, and then put my money away, put my seatbelt back on, etc. A basic courtesy, but again…why bother?
I sometimes wonder if we’re headed towards a society straight out of H.G. Wells, with two separate races of human beings. It seems like I’m forever running into more and more of the “Morlock” race, inconsiderate, nasty human beings without a shred of consideration for their fellow human beings. Meanwhile, we “Eloi” continue to live in the light, continue to extend the most common of courtesies, and continue to somehow believe that “doing unto others…” is a credo worth following.
I’ll continue to be an “Eloi”, and despite my monstrous atheist ways, I’ll continue to live what others would likely say is a “Christian” life, in terms of ethics and morality. But at the same time, my cynical side reserves the right to occasionally scream out WHY BOTHER?!?!!?