The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Let’s have some decency

Adam Cahill - A Domer's Outlook | Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I walk into a party on some familiar street near campus and I see a lot of familiar faces. Saying hello and making sure to be seen, I make my way through the crowd in search of something or someone I have yet to determine. I’m always in search of something that can hold my attention for awhile – if not the whole night. The music is loudly blaring some unknown rap artist that I have no intention of hearing again after tonight. Everyone seems to be moving in hyper drive, the frustrations of the week and a close football game having finally subsided. Usually, I would head straight for the doorman who holds the rights to house cups but tonight I don’t feel like drinking and I’m not sure why. Maybe the excitement found at the beginning of each school year is wearing off. Who knows?

I weave in and out through the crowd and stop to have a couple two minute conversations with people that I know neither of us is going to remember the next day. In one of these chats, though, I come across some troubling information. My aimlessness now has a goal and I begin to search. One person. One goal. I need to help out, do something.

It isn’t long before I pass through an open doorway and around the crowd that has accumulated near the keg. A group of my friends are in the pack, though, and distract me into a couple of meaningless and testosterone driven conversations that none of us would repeat to our mothers. It isn’t too long before I break free from them, citing the urge to pee as my excuse.

Two steps in the opposite direction and I see her. Vertical streaks cover both sides of her face and her eyes remain locked on the center of the floor, empty and distant. I ask a friend of mine how long she’s been like this and he says about an hour. I sit down next to her and without a word she slides one shoulder down and lays her head on my left shoulder. Her body is trembling so I lift my arm over her head and pull her close with my left arm.

It will be okay, I tell her. Everything will work out. She tries to talk but nothing audible comes out. Don’t talk I say. There will be time for that later.

Her boyfriend had heard of something that she hadn’t done from someone who had never talked to her or had any business talking about her. The rumor train had gotten the best of her and there was nothing she could do about it. Sitting there on the couch I could say nothing to comfort my friend. I mean, what is there to say? She had not done anything wrong but the damage had been done. No matter what kind of mending abilities she had, her boyfriend would always have that shade of doubt when it came to trusting her.

Why do we, as human beings, do this? Why do we feel it necessary to bring to the forefront that which we know nothing about? We have nothing to gain by spreading rumors and ruining the lives of others, but yet we still do. We have nothing to gain by talking ill about people that we don’t know, but we do. Are we that desperate to find things to talk about?

In a world of reality television and Jerry Springer, we’ve lost the will to interact with others peacefully. Instead of learning about the person we are talking to, it seems more appropriate to talk about someone else. Do we find ourselves, as individuals, so dull and boring that we have to delve into the lives of others in order to keep a conversation going?

Come on people, let’s grow up. We spend years of our lifetimes trying to prove to our parents that we’ve grown up when all we’ve accomplished is a lot of empty talk. I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that. But when it comes down to it, none of that matters because we haven’t done anything for each other. When is the last time we’ve made a stranger feel good? Or better yet, when is the last time we resisted the temptation to talk about someone we don’t know?

Now I’m not saying that everyone is guilty – it is not my intention to be so bold. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if the drama was left up to those who were involved and not those who were not? There is enough drama in the world to go around, but their lives are theirs, we should keep it that way and let each person live it.

Adam Cahill is a senior history and American Studies major. His column appears every other Wednesday. He can be contacted at acahill@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.