A Glimmer of Light

I keep having to remind myself…

When I look around at humanity, at human behavior, and I see the innate selfishness of people, the likelihood of otherwise decent human beings becoming icy-hearted monsters overnight should their food and territory be threatened…I have to remind myself that it’s amazing that society, such as it is, works at all.

It’s inspires hope to see mundane, day to day accord; to see people stopping at traffic lights, signalling when they change lanes; to see at least some people picking up their trash as they leave a beach; to see people recycling; to see (some) cops actually trying to help people; to see almost all planes landing safely; to see most people on freeways reaching their destination safely; to see the great majority of people behave civilly in a restaurant or mall; to see people simply checking out books in libraries, and returning them; to see kids at least showing up for school; to see a city fix a water main; to see a functioning, well maintained sewage treatment plant; to see people show up at the voting booth…We take those things for granted. But we shouldn’t.

We’ve forgotten how abundantly possible it is to have social chaos to the point where those simple things are not routine. The fact that they’re possible at all, given human nature, strikes me the way a distant light glimmering from a town would if I were lost in a dark, cold, night-shrouded forest. A distant gleam–yet that glimmer is all around us, in ordinary life.

And look a little further–you can see lawyers working pro bono to get the wrongly convicted freed; to see a corporation with a large program to help children living in foster homes; to see people organizing, with no profit motive, to save elephants from extinction or to provide clean water to sickly children in a far away land…

I keep having to remind myself…

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