An Individual Issue?

By necessity, we are moving more and more towards complete and utter individuality. The world is a dangerous place, and the tired spy movie cliche “trust no one” (or was that X-Files?) has become a common bit of advice.

An article hit the news today, about an 11-year-old that found two unmarked pills, pressed into a Tootsie Roll. This happened in a “good” suburban neighborhood, and while rare, serves as a sobering reminder that bad people are out there. While this attempt to do harm to a child might have seemed a lazy one to many of us, the simple fact is: if the girl’s parents weren’t the sort that go through their kids haul after Halloween, who knows what might have happened?

Today’s world must seem like a golden age for predators of this sort. With so much focus being put on simply earning enough money to survive, with both parents working full time (if they’re lucky) and with kids being left to manage greater sections of their own development, the real danger of detrimental outside influences surrounds us, gazing ominously from shadows, waiting for the proper moments.

Society is fueling this out of control blaze, with its continual push towards the cultural manufacture of opaque bubbles, being built and installed around each and every one of us. When a girl posts a sexy picture of herself on Facebook, she’s not looking for the honest opinions of a close group of tight-knit friends; how much does she know about the hundred or so people that “like” her photo? After a while, will it become impossible to determine your true friends from any other photographic avatar? The blanket over people you can actually trust will spread to cover everyone you “know”.

Including the dangerous people you don’t.

It's startling to me just how accurate this is...
It’s startling to me just how accurate this is…

Let us switch gears here, and tackle the issue from the other side. We as individuals have a grave responsibility to treat others with care, to be wary of our potentially harmful influence. When and where and why do we do more harm than good?

I tried to lift a larger friend over the weekend, and dropped him hard onto the floor. With the narrowness of the surroundings, I’m amazed he wasn’t hurt. The event weighed heavily upon my thoughts, and showed me that every action has that potentially equal reaction, and that it can be mental or physical, or both.

Someone comes to you for advice. Who is to say that your opinion is any better than another’s? With so many variables that cannot be fully understood, are you just calming your friend into committing any action, as opposed to doing nothing because of indecision?

This just in...
This just in…

We’ve all done things we’re not proud of, created situations that crop up and remind us of our fallibility. So, why do we incessantly continue with the activity of helping others? What is the difference between trying to help and causing a problem, and actively causing problems to pursue one’s own personal gain?

I’ve touched on this before: we are selfish creatures. Even in helping others, we are fulfilling our own desires to succeed. What if we only want success for ourselves, however? What if we didn’t derive personal joy from our positive influences on others?

On Halloween this last weekend, while I was dropping friends in my living room, the wife was handing out candy, mostly to teenagers that simply wanted candy. This year, particularly, we catered to far more teens than actual small children, and most of them wore no costume. One group of teen boys simply showed up with their hands out, like street beggars.

One child of about eight years came completely alone, the only adults in sight being the ones inside my house, drinking and acting foolish. What was so important to this child’s adult guardians, that they couldn’t be bothered to come candy hunting with the kid? And what if he encountered an adult that was putting unmarked pills into Tootsie Rolls? Or worse, a man in an unmarked van, offering candy from the open sliding door?

Vary rarely do our actions only affect ourselves, that’s all I’m getting at.

Colorful and creative, this Panic! song illustrates many of our common human failings.