It's hard to have compassion on people if you don't see them clearly.
They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"
He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around."
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. -- Mark 8:22-25 NIV
This scripture is often used in sermons reminding us to see people more clearly, not as "trees" (a metaphor for inanimate objects), but as human beings. It came to mind for me as I read Bicicleta Bandito's post on her encounter with an old man in Santa Cruz.
The old man was standing in the middle of a driveway to keep motorists from entering "his" parking lot. The motorists saw an obstruction which they honked at and threatened. The cyclist saw a confused, befuddled old man who needed help.
What and who do you see as you ride your bike?
My Sunday School lesson is on "Doing Good" this morning. As part of my object lesson, I will flip out my cell phone and send the text message "HAITI" to 90999 for an instant $10 donation to the Red Cross. As of this writing (Friday evening), nearly $10 million has been donated through texting to the Red Cross, but the need is still great. Do good and give to relief efforts.
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Thank you for this thoughtful post. I do sometimes experience people (on foot or on bikes) blocking me or others. I wish I could connect with them all as successfully as Bicicleta Bandito did.
Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to be respectful and compassionate, I've gotten hostile reactions from many of them. But I am also pretty sure that they all, from confused older people to angry, rude young men, need help of some kind.
I see people as potential Samaritans to help me in the event I need it someday, so I smile, wave, and strive to project positive feelings. I rarely encounter people purposefully trying to block my way. I recall a particularly belligerent person who waved his arms and stepped directly in front of me one night on a lonely stretch of bike path. He seemed very troubled. Probably altered. Elbow to the face? No, I waved, smiled, and said "Peace my brother," and swerved around him. Smile-and-swerve is usually all you need, and you might do some good. You have momentum and a positive outlook on your side. Keep on moving. -JR
Hmmm... how 'bout an analysis of the factors that steer split-second interactions in positive or negative directions? Is it local culture? Whether the cyclist is kitted out or looking "too poor to drive"? Whether it's rush hour or not? HOw crowded the road is? I think there would be real surprises just as it's counterintuitive to realize that drivers simply fail to even see cyclists (per the "do the test" video and the
" attention studies here at UIUC. The more popular cycling gests, the more likely we'll be perceived as humans, not bark & cellulose... tho' I've been considering (after getting enthusiastic adulations from a passing Volvo driver) the social changes that happen when an activity shifts from fringe towards mainstream, and you no longer have to be a Brave Original Thinker to take it on, thinking of homeschoolers & hippies...