E is for Everyone

| March 23, 2014

People I don’t notice everyday:

  • The man handing out newspaper on the corner
  • The worker at my subway gate
  • The homeless man leaning against a building

Everyone has a story.

I love the blog, Humans of New York, because it captures little bits of people’s stories and shares them with the world. Strangers share small pieces of their lives (sometimes incredibly intimate and heartbreaking details) and in doing somehow become even more connected to humanity.

New York offers an odd predicament; nowhere else in the world are people so tightly packed together, but somehow people continue to struggle to make real human connections.

I walk down the street and pass a hundred strangers without interacting with any of them. I get on the subway and sit down between two strangers. Our knees bump together for ten long stops, before I hop off at my stop. I walk away completely unaffected. How is this possible? And more importantly, what would a connected world look like?

I propose that a more connected world would involve:

  • Making eye contact with strangers on the street
  • Freely engaging in conversation with others
  • Staying informed about the news and injustices around the globe
  • Disengaging ourselves from our books/phones/music in order to listen to the people and world around us
I don’t think a form of Utopia is necessary in order to achieve this. I think it means structuring our society (and our classrooms) around empathy, encouraging listening and initiative. It is about lessening the divide between “you” and “I”. It means pausing in the world to feel how others are thriving, what I have come to call “listening to the heartbeat of humanity”.