Since moving to Chicago, I've been hyper aware of safety. Friends tell me of instances in neighborhoods where women are getting held up at gun point, people shot in the face with pellet guns, and altercations happening underground in the train station passageways. I hear about it, I see it, I'm not immune to it in my own bubble of false-illusions. In one week I've heard of local crime in the Chicagoland area, as well as crime back home in Florida, my own friend and former roommate, a victim.
How are people so cruel in the world? How do humans lack compassion for their own fellow species?
When I first moved here, everyone talked about Chicago traffic, and they were right. The traffic is bad. It takes me 30 minutes in the morning to drive 5 miles to work. Or, I can take a train for 45 minutes, but with my train transfers, it's barely enough time to read a few pages of a book. I get to live in one of the most culturally-rich cities in the world, so I'll take my coffee with a splash of traffic in the morning, and I'll listen to the news on the radio. While listening to horrid tales of the south side, fellow drivers are honking, bicyclists are raging and slamming their palms on the hoods of cars. Meanwhile, I'm anxious feeding off their energy, and yet life, and traffic, and the world is never bad enough that I feel the need to honk or scream or slam during my morning commute. When a pedestrian strays into the street holding up traffic, I stop. I let them go. And the car horns reverberate in the air for miles behind me. If that was my brother, my father, my son... or your son? Wouldn't you want me to stop? Who wants to start their day that way - with honking, and anger, and rage?
And yet, it's the same reason people are cruel to other people. They just are. They just do. Some people are just bad.
I'll never have an answer as to why a distant friend who was in med school was killed in a car accident with a drunk driver. I will never have an answer why a friend of a friend was robbed on the street where she lives, just walking home. I won't have an answer why a dear friend was brutally beaten for a street misunderstanding. So I just keep on living my life. I keep my phone in my pocket, not in my hands, not distracting me. I keep my front door locked and my gate too. I walk on busy streets and take Ubers instead of the train at night. I keep my head up and my eyes locking eyes with those around me. I'll remember you. Whether you're cruel or you're kind, I notice you. That's all anyone ever wants, is to be noticed, right?
Why are people so selfish that they are willing to hurt others in the process of living their own lives?