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viewpoint

I hate people

| Friday, January 15, 2016

I generally say I hate people. People are, quite frankly, the worst — myself included. I don’t hate people because we argue, or hurt the ones we love, or even because I have to close the New York Times within five minutes of reading the depressing events that are being reported. I hate people because I see how beautiful we all are and how often we take that for granted.

Have you ever thought about how much you are truly capable of? Look at the people around you. Maybe you’re in class, or maybe it’s lunchtime and you’re in the dining hall with every other student; maybe you’re just sitting outside (I have no clue why you would choose to read this outside in this weather) or maybe you are at home. Wherever it is, look at each person around you and think about all the things each and every one of them is capable of. Each of them has the ability to make life, but also to take life; to take hearts, and to break hearts; to fight, or to fly; to make friends, or to make enemies; to invite, or to shun; to save, or to condemn; to tell the truth, or to lie. And we have no control over which of these any given person will choose to do on any given day, which is truly terrifying to think about. But I do not hate people for this.

In almost every case, it seems easier to act negatively. Just last month, it took about 15 minutes for two people to take the lives of 14 others in San Bernardino, California. Yet generally people choose the more challenging actions — it’s more common for people to dedicate nine months to literally producing human life. Though this is an extreme example, it seems that most choose the more challenging route, and it is honestly mind-blowing to think how anyone is still here given how easy it is for us to hurt one another. Even more mind-blowing to me, though, is that this mysteriously wonderful aspect of humanity goes generally unnoticed.

It seems to me that most of us have grown accustomed to receiving to the point that it is expected or dismissed as routine. We do the same things with the same people so often we forget how lucky we are to be with those people. But what if one of those people just disappeared? Could you be confident that, wherever they are, they know they mean something to you, or would their memories with you only consist of sitting at lunch together while you each checked Facebook and Yik Yak on your phones? Is loss what it would take for us to realize how much better our lives are when these people are around? Maybe it is worth it to let them know how dear they are to us, before it’s too late.

And while these thoughts flutter around my mind constantly, I still find myself more bothered by the quick judgments we make about one another. As humans, we have the ability to think and understand what happens around us, and yet we judge others without considering what they might be going through. I am talking about the homeless person you pass and look at with disgust, when you don’t know if you might end up on the same corner someday. I am talking about the girl you call anorexic with no thought of the possibility that you might one day look in the mirror and lose your appetite. I am talking about the smoker you walk past holding your breath and laughing at how disgusting that person is without considering that they might be trying to find their breath in a pack of cigarettes, a situation so ironic you think it could only be found in fiction.

Of all the things we are capable of, the most incredible is our ability to feel. If we only look at someone and forget about them once they are gone, then it doesn’t matter to us what has happened that led to their departure. But if we feel someone in the sense that our lives are changed by them, even in the slightest, then it will matter. And maybe, just maybe, if we took the time to genuinely appreciate those around us more and let them know how much we truly appreciate them, maybe they’ll find less reason to depart.

Feeling gives us meaning. It is what motivates us to act one way rather than another. If the people around us mean anything at all, it is worth taking the time to not only let them know, but make sure they feel how much they truly mean to us. The real reason I claim to hate everyone isn’t because I actually do, but because I hate the fact that so many of us continue through life and take for granted how little we hate each other in a world that makes hating each other so easy.

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

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