Walking through crowded New York City streets among hordes of tourists, the sun beating down overhead, the only shade coming from the concrete towers rising above… it’s easy to lose sight of humanity. It would be easy to shove your way through any crowd, elbows out. To huff in annoyance or roll your eyes at drivers who pause in the crosswalk of a light and then get trapped by the very pedestrians they’re inadvertently blocking. To put in headphones and maintain a separation, an emotional distance from the people around you. It would be easy to forget that each person is a person like you, loved by family and friends, with the hum of hopes and dreams deep within.
But reminders are there if you look for them. If you’re paying attention, you’ll see them. You’ll see the four-year-old boy walking with his older brother along the edge of Central Park, so excited about the horses and carriages waiting for riders that he greets each and every last horse with a delighted cry of “Hello, horsey!”
You’ll see the Cartier security guard, bored by hours of standing alone outside, sweating in his suit in the summer heat. You’ll notice how he catches the eye of the security guard inside and entertains him wordlessly while pretending to do down stairs while walking past the window. He’ll be embarrassed when he discovers you watching him, but that embarrassment will quickly change to a shared laugh when you compliment him on his skills.
You’ll find yourself stuck inside the middle of a group of teens crammed too tightly into a subway car and laugh out loud when you over hear the dry comment, “Well, we said we wanted this mission trip to bring us closer together.”
You’ll find yourself smiling at babies in strollers on the subway, crying at stories of immigrants on Ellis Island, sharing a smile with a stranger while pausing to enjoy the early morning sun and the mist rising off a pond in Central Park, commiserating with fellow commuters over subway delays.
You will discover the truth of the Dalai Lama’s words, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”