1.One average ordinary day, a young 15-year old girl braided her hair and slipped on her black tea length work dress. It was trimmed with a white collar and white cuffs. She wore a white apron that she tied in a perfect bow. She took great pride in that perfect bow. She loved the sight of her perfect bow that stood stiff and straight. She always ironed her apron to keep it smooth. When she came home from her job, she would bleach any spots on the apron to keep it pristinely white. She took great pride in her job. What was this all-important job? She was an ice cream fountain girl. It was fun, and she was getting paid for it.
Work began and continued as usual that summer day. She scurried about her little cubicle of icy goodness dispensing the sticky sweets in exchange for the coins in the people’s pockets. This particular day was very busy. Her supplies were dwindling fast. As soon as she found a moment, she grabbed her metal cart and hustled to the cooler located in the back of the kitchen. She had to walk past the pastry chefs and the line cooks, turn the corner and walk past the dining room chefs/cooks and the dishwashers. She had made this walk before. It was always uncomfortable. Usually these grown men would do something like whistle or nudge each other while they watched her with their lecherous eyes. She always tried to ignore them. Today was different. Today when the girl made her way back to her work station, her cart loaded down with ice cream, chocolate syrup, and milk, they spoke directly to her. “Hey there, sexy girl. Why don’t you come on over to my place tonight and let me pour that chocolate all over you and lick it off?” “No, man. She’s too good for you. Look at her blush. She needs someone gentle. It’s OK, sweetheart. I’ll be gentle with you.” And so it went. Until she could get to the safety of her little ice cream cubicle and lose her thoughts in the endless scooping and mixing of ice cream for the masses. This continued every single day that she worked at this particular job until one day one of them followed her out back where she threw out the garbage. He snuck up behind her, grabbed her, and groped her everywhere while he covered her mouth with his hand. When he heard someone coming he stopped and whispered, “It’s your fault you know. You shouldn’t be such a dick tease.”
2. One September morning, Peggy left for work. She had a very busy day ahead of her. As a wife and mother of two boys she had plenty to do. On top of that, she had a high-powered job to juggle. But she did it well. She was always there for the last few innings of her boys’ baseball games, and she made the efforts necessary to have a successful marriage. In fact, a week from this September morning she didn’t know it, but her husband was planning to surprise her with theater tickets and a Manhattan dinner for her birthday. She told her husband, “I love you, and I’ll see you this afternoon.” That was the last time he saw her. Peggy’s job was with Cigna Insurance Co., Manhattan, and American International Group, Manhattan. She was in the 2 World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
3. In 2013 a husband waits in the parking garage for his wife to get off of work. Theirs has been a tumultuous marriage, full of violence. He waits. She arrives. They argue. He pulls a gun and shoots her…several times. Gone. She is gone. In one moment, the life that was there is now gone. The mother of his children, gone.
4. Years ago a family decided to use the foster care system to adopt children in need of a home. They went to church, and they worked hard. By all appearances, they would be the perfect family to send children in need of a home. They were able to adopt and foster six children. But behind closed doors they regularly beat and tortured the five oldest. They were beaten until they bled. They were held under water, put inside a clothes dryer while it was running, hit with hammers, dangled and dropped over banisters, duct taped to beds, forced to drink urine, and so on. And they have the scars to prove it. They were finally taken away in 2004, but much damage had been done by then.
5. Last week in Dallas too many people died unnatural deaths. I don’t have anything eloquent to say about this. The damage is done. The lives have been taken, and the hearts are broken.
6. Hillary Clinton will not have criminal charges brought against her. People are outraged. They hate the government. They want change.
To my way of thinking, this is all the same problem. It’s people doing things to people. Individuals doing things to other individuals. When I was 15 I was unprepared to learn the brutal and twisted truth that people see other people as objects. Sometimes they are objects of desire, sometimes objects of hate, sometimes just objects in the way-like something to overcome on the way to something else we might want. That’s why they can do what they do and say what they say.
A man can say and do sexually explicit things to a young girl because he sees an object, not a girl…not another man’s daughter…not a person with hopes and fears. A man can blow up a building filled with innocent people because he sees objects. He doesn’t see families with plans to visit friends, lovers with plans to meet later, businessmen waiting to make the deal of their life. He sees only things to hate. A man can beat and/or kill his wife because he sees an object. Parents abuse and neglect children because they see them as objects. Government (which really is just people!!!) does what it will to the people because it views the people as objects in the way of whatever its goal is at the moment (or on the way to its ultimate goal).
The real problem is human beings. Until we fix things inside of ourselves, things will continue to spiral out of control across the world. We really must do the work on ourselves. We have to be willing to teach our children to do the hard thing-to see people, not objects. I’m not saying you have to like everyone. Believe me. I see plenty of human beings (not objects) that I dislike. 🙂 But they are still human beings that I make an effort to understand…and I still dislike them. 🙂 It happens. We don’t have to agree with everyone to treat one another with respect. We don’t have to all hold hands and sit around a campfire singing Kumbaya either. But just ask yourself, really ask yourself, do you see that guy who cut you off in traffic as a person? Or is he a thing that just got in your way? Because if he’s a person, my guess is he deserves to be treated like one. Not everyone will treat you like you are a person. I know this. I do. But it’s easier for them to do it if you do it.
Just start small. Start in your home. Instead of treating your children like objects when you are trying to get somewhere on time, treat them like people…people that are struggling with time management…people that need help. It makes a difference. Then maybe move on to people outside your home. Just try. Here’s one tiny example of something that I try to do just because it’s something my mother taught me. I always felt awkward growing up because she just talks to everyone. I’m terribly socially awkward, and I just don’t understand why she does this. She also talks to the cashiers in checkout lines. As an adult I asked her once why she listens to them because I personally can’t handle listening to the drama of their personal lives that so many seem willing to dish out. Her answer humbled me…like BIG humble. Anyway. She said, “I want them to know that they are seen.” That’s it. That’s all she said. Anyway. It stuck with me. So I do it now. I try to talk to the cashiers in my horribly awkward way. I can usually make them laugh. I’m not a tender enough person to get personal with them. I’ll save that for the likes of my mom and sister. But you know, just do what you can, right? I have seen a difference in the way the cashiers treat the people behind me after I am done talking with them. Am I changing the world? No. I don’t even think I am changing a life. But for five minutes, the world was a little bit better. And since I believe that nothing will change until people do, I believe that has to count for something.
Take It, and Be Thankful