When humanity is lost

I’ve been deep in contemplative thought since the reporting of a SEPTA train assault. I don’t even need to specify because you know the assault of which I speak.

I’m not alone in my disgust, anger, sadness or shock -- disgust over the blatant disregard for another human’s well-being; the anger that such a brazen attack could happen in a public space and that it can happen without a fellow human stepping in to stop the attack; the sadness that we are still in a world where a person carries out vicious attacks on fellow humans; and finally, the shock that in 2021 we’re still having discussions about sexual violence.

There has got to be a correlation between the last 18 months and its part in violent incidents of many kind. But our ability to not see one another as the humans that we all are -- that has spiraled out of control and feels like a triggering point for so many acts of aggression, crime, and overall dismissiveness of the people with which we inhabit the planet.

How did we get here? More importantly, how do we get to a place of peaceful existence with our neighbors, family and even total strangers? Shouldn’t civility be common behavior? Must it be integrated into laws or some doctrine that we all learn?

As a state representative in the Pennsylvania legislature, I would be happy to discuss with my colleagues the legislative options that make life in our commonwealth safer and more equal for all our residents. But what do we need to say? Put your phone down and look at people as you pass them by! Wearing our masks protects us from a deadly virus but we can speak volumes with our eyes. Look at folks and nod in acknowledgement. It makes my day when someone does that to me! Stop the hurtful rhetoric on social media. Get up from your computer or put your phone down and take a walk outside to get some air and see a neighbor!

Some of these basic courtesies have become a thing of the past. I fear they may be gone forever, and only to the detriment of society.

Part of the pandemic that has contributed to some of these digressions may be that we are relegated to our homes and oftentimes are in our own echo chamber. Even with social media, where there can be feedback – good and bad – we are ultimately in our solitary space only to be alone with our own thoughts.

Intolerance breeds there and unacceptable behaviors can grow out of that one track conversation of the mind.

Hatred becomes normal conversation. Children emulate our behaviors. Folks gravitate to others who think like them.

But that doesn’t make the world exist in its truest potential. That only proves to make the world more hateful and less peaceful.

While we are in this moment in time, take a minute to look across totality of the human race and find the humanity in it. Reach across lines of race, religion, politics and open your mind to possibilities.  

Recognize that our basic human rights are everyone’s rights. We all have a place in this world – with the right to be safe, to be accepted, to be treated with dignity – to be treated equally.

We all have the right to opportunities of equal justice under the law and equal quality of life in our communities.

When we lose sight of another person’s humanity, then we have no respect for their humanity. Masks are allowing everyone to be faceless but as humans we can make the distinction. We are not though. We’re hiding behind our masks, our politics and our keyboards.

Move beyond it and come back around to humanity.