I was in the metro today. It was a pleasure to look at all the people move in and out of the wagons, make their way to the exit and generally following a long industrious circuit underground. In those moments, I can’t help but think of ant farms. To think that every single individual is thinking, feeling and being is rather amazing. Every one of us is an extension of the universe. When there is 200 citizens in a small space that makes 200 extensions mingling together in different ways and patterns.
You would expect that I was dozing off or being absent-minded if I had those thoughts. Actually, I was very much present, being aware of the people in my immediate space. Then some stranger came by me and asked for money. He claimed it was for food. I have none(said I). There was perhaps a bit of sympathy on my part, but given the long day at work it wasn’t much more than a “can’t be fucked” feeling. This man later sat down next to a woman. She started talking to him. Based on the movement of her lips I initially thought that she asked him questions, but my gut feeling kept me gazing on the scene… which dragged on. It felt fishy.
The woman eventually moved her hand into the man’s pocket and took all the change out. She started counting up the money. While this was happening the man stared at me. It was a violent stare. The kind of stare that you see when someone is filled with hate and a thirst for violence. I’m not one to make hasty assumptions though. Perhaps they were struggling in their life. Perhaps they tried to get back and pay the month’s rent by all means necessary. Gandhi said that actions expressed priority. Maybe they wanted extra money for more beer. Who knows.
Now recall that this man approached me with half a smile and a head that looked at the ground. It was obvious that it was a big farce. I didn’t think much of the situation. I stared at him for as long as I needed to and left as my metro station was coming up.
Initially there was pity. Then it became something entirely different. There’s a reason why skepticism is an important asset to everyday living. It is important to ask the “why and the how” in any situation. It will help us make more informed choices.