Holidays. As a naturally observant person I'm tuned in with people. As a clinical psychologist, I can't help but analyze how people act and interact during this largest of all holiday seasons. The inherent good in me idealizes that in the period from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the very best would be brought out and displayed among us all. The realist in me knows instead that from mid-November through December, I'm going to encounter a lot of stressed, pressured and intolerant people. And at times - more than I'd like to admit - I am one of them.
On a Sunday afternoon, I stopped by the grocery store on my way home from softball practice to pick up a few items. I had momentarily forgotten how close it was getting to Thanksgiving and literally cringed when I walked into the store. Crowded. No carts. People clearly on a mission to get in, out and on their way with little or no care or concern for anything but their own agenda. I thought momentarily about how truly competitive and materialistic the holidays had become. I felt sadness interspersed with disgust but disengaged myself from that because really, standing in the middle of a busy market, lamenting what I concluded was the disintegration of humanity was not serving any constructive purpose.
I got my items and proceeded to one of the check-out lanes. Everything was backed up like trying to get on a ride at Six Flags. Worse yet, the person at the front of the line checking out was experiencing some sort of problem, so the cashier was waiting for a manager to override and fix the issue. Although I was far back back in the line, the cashier's eyes met mine and relayed an apology. I relayed back as best I could, "It's okay! It's not your fault!" I thought, "Why is she looking to me for reassurrance?"
My eyes scanned up and down the line of waiting customers; everyone's eyes were cast downward, refusing to engage. I shook my head, again saddened and disgusted. For whatever reason, I then looked behind me and saw a display advertising for food donations for Thanksgiving for families in need. How did I miss this before? My ashamed answer is that like these people in my line that I was upset about, I, too, was only thinking about myself.
I left my cart and resolutely marched over to the display. I carried as many food donation items as I could back to my place in line. Back and forth, back and forth, I continued to do this. And then ... people began to look up. I saw curiosity, confusion, and then - finally - clarity register on their faces. Others began to do the same thing - leave their carts, go get food donation items and put them in their own carts. Eye contact was established. Smiles were exchanged. Humanity was unburied and resurrected. I could have hugged every person in that line. "We're not lost!" I thought. "We're just momentarily off track but not past the point of fixing."
Be the change you want to see in others. This society we are living in where people don't share and don't care needs to change. Be willing to shake it up! Embrace the well-loved saying of "good will towards men"- not just in your lip service, but in your actions. Deep down, don't we all want the connection, the love, the security and stability that comes from the human touch? Rise above the selfishness, the fear, the ignorance and REACH OUT! Not for you. Not for me. But for us all.