Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Seeking the common good

We had a ferry incident yesterday: the Tacoma (pictured here) unexpectedly lost propulsion just before coming into the Bainbridge harbor and had to be towed into the dock.  So ferry service was temporarily suspended, and when it was restored we were down to only one boat.

No lives were lost, but a LOT of people were inconvenienced, with a fairly predictable balance of good and bad reactions.  On the good side, neighbors were scurrying to care for children and pets of islanders who were stuck in Seattle, some even drove boats over to pick up friends and family, and lots of people were posting updates.

On the bad side, there was apparently a lot of squabbling in the ferry line, particularly among the bikers who are used to getting priority loading.  But by loading on the extra piles of waiting bikers, other passengers -- walk-ons and cars -- were limited because the ferry is only permitted to carry as many people as can be accommodated by its life-rafts.

The difference -- as always -- between good and bad reactions in situations such as these seems always to stem from the ability -- or inability -- to see that others' needs are just as valid as our own; to look beyond our own challenges to the common good. The willingness to share information and resources; to help others; to patiently await your turn; to look beyond our own trials to see and comprehend the difficulties of others... all, I think, are hallmarks of the kinder, gentler civilization our community likes to believe it is.  But the aggressiveness and entitlement issues remain, and I find myself wondering: will humans ever be able to evolve past that?  And how can we help that happen?  

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