The Drowned and The Saved

A wonderful book, by Primo Levi.  Meanwhile, pondering the drowned of this world, I myself got “saved” yesterday.  It was an interesting experience.

I had several shipments to get out yesterday, and although my packages were all lined up like little ducks, I had made an error on a zipcode.  So, there I was in the Post Office using their Automatic thingy, realizing I had to change a zip code and not having a pen.  I turned around and saw people in line behind me, glowering, as though I had Upset Their Scheduled Liver-Heart Transplant Combos by taking about eight minutes for my whole transaction.  I asked if anyone had a pen: As one organism, they glowered and shook their heads NO.  OH-KAY.  I finished my transaction, and cast about for someone who would admit they had a pen.

In the corner, sorting her mail, was a woman.  I approached her and asked if she had a pen.  She did, let me use it, and then, in return, she said, since I had taken some of her time, she’d take some of mine.  She proceeded to give me a quickie rendition of why I should accept Jesus as my saviour.  The interesting thing was that it was not in the least offensive or browbeating or Overly Baptist.  I don’t have an issue with opening my heart to Jesus, as she asked me to do.  Or Buddha, or Allah  (although there are some socio-political issues there I can’t quite dig- then again most Judeo-Christian religiosity has socio-political issues I can’t dig…)…my feeling is Creator comes in many guises and has many names.  But the main name is Love.  This woman held my hand in the Post Office and pronounced me Saved.  She was beaming.  I was happy.  Energetically it was a right-minded, balanced transaction. It didn’t cost me a thing to have five minutes of compassion and understanding.

Then I turned around.  I still had the one box to mail, now corrected.  And the people who had been standing in line behind me were all looking at me, aghast.  It was really unbelievable, in a way, that these people, who were none of them willing to extend themselves one whit to do a simple helpful thing, felt qualified to judge a short interaction between two people where things actually worked out and nobody was acting crazy.  (I mean, no snakes, no Armageddon, no speaking in tongues, no yelling.)   I respected the woman who lent me her pen enough to give her a few moments of my time, instead of treating her like something was wrong with her.  This cemented the negativity of the people behind me.  I wondered how they had the time for that.

When I think about the misery in the world, and the things people have to go through in the course of a day, in the course of their lives, in the course of a minute?  This unwillingness to acknowledge the “Other” is of course shockingly evident.  The clock, however, is ticking.  I think it’s time, past time, to give ourselves a break, stop carrying around those loads of opinions and attitudes about things, and be where we are.  There’s a lot of work to be done here now, and it won’t happen if we all keep our drawbridges up and the moats full of alligators.


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