Thursday, November 2, 2023
Years ago, I lived near a Dunkin’ Donuts and would go there every morning for my coffee. It wasn’t that it was so great in as much as for the convenience. You meet a lot of different characters in a coffeehouse, ranging from the weird to the interesting to the extreme. One of these persons was an older woman of Irish descent, about 50 years old at the time. She was there every day as I picked up my coffee, and we eventually started exchanging pleasantries about the weather, simple things. One day I sat at her table and the woman blew my mind! She was born and grew up in the neighborhood and had never left. She hadn’t been to a suburb, or out of state, or out of the country. I didn’t believe her at first, but then I saw that she was being honest, and she was happy. Then I became a member of the now defunct Ceasefire organization, which was a gang prevention group, and discovered that some of these kids from the slums had never been downtown once in their lives, never left their neighborhoods; they could see the skyscrapers in the distance, but never ventured far enough to discover the new. These were teenagers!
How unfortunate, how sad, how utterly mind-blowing it is to realize that there are people trapped in this jail without bars, not knowing that there are worlds other than those in their own cloistered minds. No wonder some people still believe in a flat earth! It’s like in India, where there are generations upon generations of rat catchers, going back for hundreds of years! They catch them, sell them, and eat them. That is all they know—the environment they grew up in and never left! We might be critical of these people and their circumstances, but we should be very careful not to judge others according to our standards and values.
These days, there is so much information out there, on every possible subject under the sun, yet people like the ones I describe, exist. People who never go to school, or are homeschooled by parents who sometimes deny them the freedom to explore other truths than the ones they are forced to believe and accept. These are the people who sometimes slip through the cracks of normalcy and end up lost and drifting. I suppose I’m being judgmental after asking you not to be. But how does a society allow their own to exist in these dark and confusing zones? What would it take to shine a light on everyone’s path to a more satisfactory guide to individual fulfillment, knowledge? To be able to see more than just what’s in front of you? What a thing!
For me, I have always had that wanderlust inside me. I have traveled far and wide, and that lust will never be sated. When less than half of all Americans own a passport, you can understand some of the ignorance that prevails, leading to xenophobia and what I call the “Number 1 syndrome.” If you don’t know, you can assume that there’s nothing better out there on this whole, wide, flat earth!
“How dull it is to pause, to make an end. To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!”—
“Ulysses” by Tennyson