Way back this summer, I noticed this Facebook post by my friend Craig York:
When did we become such a selfish, frightened people, that we have made it shameful to share?
— Craig Anders York, 5 June 2011
Craig, I think, was reflecting specifically on the Texas state budget circus of 2011 and its impact on services to the people of Texas, but the words seem increasingly relevant in light of current public discourse. Selfishness, mean-spiritedness, pettiness seem to have come to define so much of both private and public life in recent years. Civility, kindness, generosity, cooperativeness are derided, labeled by the obnoxious term “politically correct”, judged to be in themselves offenses worthy of rebuke or at best as symptoms of a fool’s weak mind.
But I have to ask myself, can society survive if we cannot at least be kind to each other, if we do not recognize that the fate of each of us depends on the fate of all, if we cannot offer help when help is needed, if we do not see ourselves and all others as, in Dickens’ phrase, “fellow travellers to the grave”?
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not offering myself or my life as a shining example of anything. I’m certainly capable of being just as petty, self-centered, uncaring, and unkind as the next person. But I’m just wondering if there isn’t some way to bring a little more generosity into our lives. Without that, I see no answer to the present state of the world.