Every 9 weeks my work schedule shifts and I have to work a week of overnights and a week of 3-11’s. So with inconvenient train schedules combined with my desire to avoid the subway as the sniffles season begins, at the end of my shift I walk the 2.5 miles to Penn Station. I actually enjoy the walk, because as I zigzag through the streets I get to see people as they’re just starting their day as mine is ending. Something about the look on the faces. Seeing them full of energy and anticipation of the coming day, it’s almost like a temporary boost for me after a long night. But this morning, as I was walking half in a daze like I usually am after the first night, the sound of kids playing snapped me back into reality. As I got closer to the school yard I could see a dozen or so kids playing a baseball like game, next to another large group trying to have conversations over the music they we’re playing. Next was a group of five or six huddled around a phone laughing at some video, I actually found myself smiling thinking how nice it is to be so carefree. Then in the middle of the playground, sitting on the cold asphalt, I saw one kid. His phone in one hand and his face in the other, it was heartbreaking. I mean there was at least 50 kids there and no one was talking to him. I don’t know if it was the dad in me ,but it took everything not to start yelling to the other kids to include him…the reality that I’d look crazy and that kid probably would’ve been embarrassed kept me at bay. So as I walked by I said a quick prayer and hoped that he had friends that were just running late.
We love each other because he loved us first –John 4:19
As I continued on my trek, a feeling of helplessness came over me. And that’s when I started to think how it’s not just kids who can be that cruel, as adults we’re just as bad. Actually, we’re worse because not only do we do it, but WE KNOW BETTER. Sometimes it’s not malicious, we just get so focused or dare I say distracted by what’s right on front of our face (yes I’m talking about cell phones) that we miss or ignore what’s going on around us.
So for the rest of my walk to the station I went out of my way to make eye contact and say hello to everyone…..EVERYONE. The funny thing is just about smiled back and returned the greeting. I know I felt better and I’d like to think they do too. That’s when that little voice in my head repeated the phrase we all learned as kids…to treat others how we want to be treated. The Golden Rule. And like most phrases we know it comes back to the Bible, Matthew 7:12…
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you
As upsetting as it was, I truly believe that a lesson was learned…or relearned today as I walked past that playground. It’s up to us to take care of each other, to love one another the way that Christ loves us. Being imperfect as we are it’s just easy to forget. Well maybe it’s time for us all to remember.