No, this is not a post about climate change or road rage. It is, though, about our relation to our environment.
The other day, as I was walking home from my office, I stopped to pick up some litter, thought about it, then tweeted, “If you walk by litter, do you feel obliged to pick it up? When you drive by it?”
I did not get a lot of responses, but the ones I got were unanimous; walking, maybe – driving, no.
I have spent the last two days occasionally pondering this difference. There are practical reasons for not stopping one’s car to pick up litter every time one come across it. I am not arguing that.
I contend, though, that this separation from our surroundings that a car provides may either signal or affect how we relate to our world.
In other words, that issue or person or group is “not my problem” is an easier statement for us to make if we don’t feel very connected – if we can roll up a window, close a door, and whisk past at the posted speed limit.
When we are on foot, however, we pass more closely by. Sans earbuds, we hear the other. We tend to feel more connected, and thus, either more responsible or at least more empathetic.
It isn’t really about cars. Many of us attend churches (or sporting events, or stores) in neighborhoods in which we would never live. We easily ignore those right outside these venues because we have learned to shut ourselves off to them.
Maybe we don’t have to ditch our cars (though we could all do with a bit more walking). We do, though, need to regain some recognition of the real connectedness we are all wired to have with one another.
How will you go about that?