Look me in the eye!

I’ve found myself occasionally doing something I’m not overly proud of. Here’s some back story. While I was home between summer and fall 2007, I attended a fireside about the horrible conditions of African leper colonies, and during the night, the speaker related a life-changing event. She had been walking and had come across a disfigured person (I’m not sure if this was before her work at the leper colony or during.) In an awkward moment, she looked past the person and didn’t recognize their presence with even a glance. Instantly, she felt a wave a shame wash over her. She then resolved to never again deny any child of God the right to the acknowledgement of their existence.

Anyway, while walking to and from class, I’ll sometimes do the same thing. It’s not too bad when you’re in a crowd, but when you pass a single person on the sidewalk, it feels slightly awkward to greet them. They are a stranger, an unknown who could react to your pleasant greeting in any number of ways. I’m a very outgoing guy and don’t normally feel any social hesitation. I shouldn’t have any problem saying, “Hi!” to someone I will never see again. Unless, I do start seeing them again. And again, and again, and every time I take the same path to class. Then it gets really weird. Are they a friend? Do you start brief, in-passing conversations when you see someone so regularly? Or do you take the much easier but shameful route, and ignore the person? If you acknowledge them just once, you have to do it every time or else you a jerk. It’s a complicated situation.

I’m still trying to figure this out and what is okay- greeting every single person I ever see seems unrealistic. I need to at least work on giving everyone the dignity of a greeting. Who am I to deny them the right? Me, lowly and egotistic Matthew, to judge the value of a person simply by choosing to look at them or not?

Something to improve on. Like so many other things.


Sky said...

Matthew, it's interesting to me how different we all are from each other(Thank Heavens). When I walk on campus, I'm usually daydreaming, analyzing the slant of the sun, noticing shadows, listening for birds, mentally writing poetry, singing, or saying a quick, private prayer, so I wouldn't be offended at all if you didn't say "Hi." I'm busy. I wouldn't feel like a leper. Nope. I'd just be very grateful for the quiet.

Matthew R. Hall, Esq. said...

Hm, that's a good point. I like being able to get constructive feedback on my inane ideas, because that helps me develop them and hopefully make them less offensive.

I didn't think at all about people who like to keep to themselves. It's not like I assumed everyone was like me, I just didn't think about it. Knowing that makes me feel better about not saying "Hi" all the time. I'd hate to force my light-minded self into someone else's thoughts and thereby shove out something important.