Wednesday, July 13, 2022

#195 / Random Engagement Is Good For Us


Naturally, I am pleased when I find that other people, whom I do not know, and with whom I have had no contact whatsoever, agree with the views I express in these daily blog postings.
One of the views I have regularly expressed is the view that "Talking To Strangers" is a kind of "political act," and a practice in which we should all be increasingly engaged. Here is a link to one of my most recent blog postings on that topic, entitled, "Talking To Strangers #5." The title does give some idea of my preoccupation with this idea.
David Sax, a journalist and author, with a justified claim to be counted as a "public intellectual," and a person whose ideas should be taken seriously, has written a column in The New York Times that confirms what I have been claiming. 
Sax's column is titled, "Strangers Are Good for Us." Click the link to read his arguments. They are completely consistent with my own. Here (among other things) is what Sax says: 

Random engagement is at the core of our social contract.

Most religious faiths instruct us to welcome the strangers we encounter, and there’s good reason for this. If we engaged only with the people we knew, our world would be small. That leap of faith toward the unknown other is what allows us to grow beyond the family unit, tribe or nation. Everyone you converse with who is not a biological relative — your best friend, neighbor, lover, spouse or even that chatty taxi driver from last weekend — was a stranger before you spoke to that person. Anytime we ignore strangers in our vicinity, whether because of fear, bigotry or the everyday convenience and efficiency of digital technology, we weaken that contract. 
Far from random human inconveniences, strangers are actually one of the richest and most important resources we have. They connect us to the community, teach us empathy, build civility and are full of surprise and potentially wonder.
I most definitely agree with Sax, and what sprang to my mind, upon reading his column, was a quote from the Bible, one I remember from my long-ago, Sunday School days. 
For those can find a New Testament around the house, check out Chapter 10, Verse 37 in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is talking about the good Samaritan, who provided assistance to the man who had fallen victim to thieves, and lay on the side of the road in agony. The Samaritan, who did the right thing, stopped his travels, and rather than passing the victim by, helped the victim, and showed him mercy. The lesson Jesus provided was simple. It could work with Sax's admonition about strangers, too: 
Go and do likewise!  

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