The Importance of Helping Others


Even though many may dislike it, I manage to enjoy the TV series Seinfeld. Though it ended in the late 90s, there are many hilariously insightful moments that make me truly think, since so much has changed in these last ten years. In more than one episode, the main characters: Jerry Seinfeld, George Costanza, Cosmo Kramer, and Elaine Bemis are constantly affronted or ensnared by social situations that prove nearly impossible to overcome due to the complexities that have come to be known as social order. However, there is one particular paradigm that appears throughout the series: refusing to aid a fellow human being.

In one episode, George is waiting at the airport to pick up Jerry, who is returning from one of his stand-up performances (Jerry Seinfeld plays as himself in the show), and asks a successful-looking, suit-donning man standing next to him for the time. The man boorishly refuses, telling George that there is a clock next to the escalator, even though the man is wearing a wristwatch. The two of them quibble back and forth until the boorish suit leaves. While he is walking away, George shouts at him "You know, we're living in a society!"

This scene made me contemplate how we certainly are not living in a society anymore. On average, people will not bother to help the person beside them. When I worked as a customer service representative for a restaurant, I would feel the impatience of the people giving their orders to me, as if I was not fast enough to please them. Then other people would decide to spend their time in front of me (as opposed to off to the side so that I can serve the next impatient customer) staring at the menu wondering what they desired to eat, and I essentially assumed the role of an encyclopedia of the menu for these customers. I was sometimes forced to play 20 questions until the order was completed. Then, after I finally completed their order, the next person would start with some superficial, insincere platitude and then proceeded treat me like my entire existence was to push buttons on a payscreen for them. This was all rather aggravating, and after my shifts I could not wait to beeline out of the restaurant and enjoy hanging out with people who understood that I did, indeed, have a pulse and breathed oxygen.

The saddest part is that I am not the only person who became absolutely exasperated with my line of work. The amount of inhumanization performed on those whose semblance of existence in a company is to amend other's problems or provide them quality service is enough to sicken even the casual observer. Think about it: how many times have you witnessed someone shouting at the top of their lungs at someone who is merely doing his job? We have all witnessed that situation at least once in our lives. However, what is not noticed is how many people simply use customer service reps like one would use a butterknife, or a toaster, or a car. It's inhuman and sickening, but it happens all the time.

Yes, we do not live in a society anymore, and it irks me when cogitating about it. 
However, what would the world look like if we took the time to engage in empathy? What if, before we acted, we considered the effect our actions would have on someone else? What if we took the extra thirty seconds to help someone in need? I conjecture the world would look different. The golden rule, as found in the Bible is "Whatever you wish others would do for you, do it for them." I think this is a straightforward way toward making the world a better place. If we wish to live in a society, then we should start by being the society.

Michael Jackson, in his song Man in the Mirror, sang "If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change." I think this is apt advice to push us in the direction of being a society again. If we all decided to help the person next to us, then maybe the hungry would be fed and the needy would be clothed. In order to live in a society, people must love their neighbor as themselves, for without love, we are nothing.

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