It’s tempting to become reflexively pessimistic about the state of the world these days. Things can be pretty awful out there. I would never deny it.
In fact, I flew across the country twice recently, and so naturally, I got pretty up close and personal with some of the most unpleasant, frustrating, and absurd symptoms of the utter hopelessness of our culture, society, and economy. That is what cross-country travel does to us in this day and age. It is quite miserable and quite depressing.
And yet, as I finally crossed the threshold of my own home again at 1:30 a.m. this past Friday, to the delight of my dog and the welcome softness of my own bed, I reflected that in fact, the two flights I took back from California were in fact studded with gems of human kindness.
Here, in the midst of one of the worst experiences modern middle-class life has to offer, was ample evidence that all is not yet lost. To wit:
- A gentleman on a bus to the airport offered me his seat, seeing how tired I looked.
- Halfway through my first flight, I found a card from my husband with words of encouragement and prayer in my bag.
- At the same moment, I found an essay in my bag from my daughter, in which, among other things, she notes that, “The less said about the Menace Cat, the better.”
- On the second flight, the flight attendants gave out a surprise second round of free snacks.
- A woman gave up her aisle seat for a dreaded middle seat so that a mother could sit with her two small boys.
- A child shared his cookies with everyone in his row, friend and stranger alike.
- When a woman realized a mom with a baby was looking for the seat next to her, she waved the mom over enthusiastically instead of being grumpy about sitting next to a baby.
- A woman cried with fear during some dramatic turbulence and her seatmate comforted her.
- People helped each other with getting down their luggage from the overhead bins.
- People waited politely for their turn to get off the plane, chuckling and making jokes.
- People gestured to each other to go first while getting off.
- When a kid started playing on the moving walkway in the airport to his father’s display, people around them laughed kindly instead of glaring or condemning.
There are plenty of just plain ordinary people on airplanes and in airports, and almost all of them are stressed, tired, and uncomfortable. And yet “doing unto others” seemed to be the rule of the day this past Friday, at least.
So take heart, friends. Let’s allow such things to buoy us up and bring us cheer, for however bad things may be, all is clearly not yet lost.
No, indeed, it is not!