Porthole on the World

Well it was all of sixty-five years ago
When the world was the street where she lived
And a young man sailed on a ship in the sea
With a picture of Veronica

–Elvis Costello, “Veronica

I work in a tall building with banks of elevators. Have you ever noticed the folks who immediately try to get on an elevator when the doors open? You know, the ones that never stop to see if someone needs to get off – especially on the first floor? You may have even done it yourself, on rare occasion. I call this “elevator egoism” – the assumption that the elevator has arrived only to meet your need, and no one else’s needs.

We do this because our world tends to be so very narrow. It’s the same reason that many people can’t believe human-caused climate change. They think the world is big, and simply can’t imagine seven billion people in it. But in a way, it makes sense, Rarely are most people in a confined space filled with tens of thousands of others – sporting events, concerts, and certain political rallies are the general exceptions. I suspect when one considers that including the people that participate in only such event of any size, these people represent a a fraction of US population, and certainly the world population.

Further, when it comes to the world, with only a very few exceptions, any given individual is, on average, loved by zero people. (Yes, this is true. You can do the math yourself – unless as many 3.5 million people love you, or at least give a crap about you, the answer rounds down to zero.)  And of course, this works the other way. On average, any given individual cares about or loves, zero others.

We are all selfish and self-involved.

(Of course, I give myself a pass as I am honest that I don’t care about individuals, only large numbers of people. But even then, the answer is generally not much better than zero.)

I think this is part of the explanation for today’s politics. The world is not big enough to support all these damn self-involved people. The concept of sharing power and policy with people or groups of different value seems to be too foreign a concept for many people. Often I wonder if this is because their understanding of the world is so small.

So, my suggestion is this.

Since, on average, no one really loves or cares about any one of us, doesn’t make sense to make an effort for everyone to care about everyone else?

You know, we don’t have to like each other.

But we don’t actually have to dislike each other – or anyone for that matter.

I guess it is just easier.  So, let’s just keep doing the easy thing. That way we will all have friends in the Hell we create.

Be nice. It won't hurt either of us.

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