I felt close to these characters because we seemed to share common experience.
Now that I know a little more about the world, whether I like it or not, I can’t help but chuckle at the insular lens with which I viewed my life, which of course, was the center of the world. (As a side note, I think I’m realizing that a person who makes you believe that you are the center of the world is not a true friend, but rather a flatterer.) I still have a long way to go. I still sink down into the kitchen floor in a heap of self-pity, complaining about my cushy life.
But something else is happening to me, and I’m not entirely sure if I like it. But I may not have a choice. This might actually be life.
The more I read, particularly the more I read about things that I already understand, the more I find commonalities in experience–between me and strangers, like I had once before, only this time, the experience, because it involved myself but had nothing to do with the essence of myself, is much greater than myself. For example, I reached a part in the memoir I’m reading about a Palestinian being required to strip before being granted entry into the new state of Israel. I was never asked to strip (completely), but I was patted and prodded and robbed and accused of horrible things. But reading about it from someone else’s point of view makes this even more real, because it is now concrete.
I suppose in this day and age that doesn’t seem that uncommon–people are patted down and accused of horrible things every day. But that doesn’t make it right even if it is “normal” and it shouldn’t be normal. I don’t care how many times this happens, but I refuse to accept wrong deeds as rightful norms.
Yet sometimes this makes me feel really alone. Just like I felt alone as a child because I refused to flirt or flatter or throw money in someone’s face to make her or him like me. I just didn’t care that much.
I guess some things never change. But I’m beginning to feel ashamed of this world, particularly of the people “in charge,” the ones who wield power, who should fundamentally be in place to take care of those who are meek or helpless. That’s how the world should work. And I know it doesn’t, but again, it doesn’t make it right, nor should it even be acceptable.
But there will always be people who wield money and power and therefore influence and can flirt and flatter and make “friends,” or make flatterers of unassuming people, to their own detriment. No matter how much I read, how much I travel, how many times I get mistaken for a terrorist, this will always be the case, I suppose, in some form or another. If it’s not happening to me, it’s happening to someone else.
This is why there exist people and professions and religions that search for truth, that promote and advocate peace, respect. This is the counterweight to the heaviness of selfishness that runs rampant all over the world. And like magnets, one repels while the other attracts; there will and must always be opposites, counterweights: good to the evil, hope to the despair, love to the hatred. This is why we read, travel, try, go to church, practice peace. We must always be the counterweight. We must always seek Truth.