Thursday, October 23, 2008

me too

I think we've all done it. I was walking down the sidewalk in St. Laurent today, on my way to the pharmacy across the street. While I was still about 20 feet from the intersection that I was heading to, I saw people start to cross the street up ahead and I began to run, wanting to make sure that I didn't miss the green WALK light that had obviously just begun. I stepped out into the street and darted in front of a car that was slowing to a stop for its red light. But the driver honked instead! What? I looked at the pedestrian signal and found that it did NOT say walk, in fact there was a big red hand warning me that it was not safe to cross. I had just darted into the street in front of a car that was rightfully driving through a green light at quite a nice speed! Oh, crap! Those pedestrians I had so willingly followed were just in a hurry and trying to squeeze in-between the traffic, disregarding the law and their own safety. In looking at them instead of the traffic light, I had put myself in a dangerous situation. Thank God for an alert and considerate driver!

Somehow, when we see a few people doing something, we assume that it is okay. I am experiencing the same phenomenon in my French class. For the first few weeks, most students showed up on time, at 8:15 am. Then a few of them started to arrive a little later and realised that there were few consequences for this. Each week fewer people showed up on time and today, I was the only person in the classroom at 8:15 am, besides the professor. What one or two started to do, everyone soon adopted as acceptable behaviour. The effectiveness of the course has been circumvented in measure by the attitude of a few. And it makes me sad.

Because I am guilty of the same thing sometimes. I fall into this pattern of easily being influenced by others' less than stellar behaviour and letting that be my standard instead of what I know is good and right and lawful and the best that I could be doing. And I am ashamed of that part of myself, that weak and pliable and comprising part of me. Do I really have so little inner conviction? Am I just a follower and not a leader? Will I refuse to stand out from the crowd and make my stance known when it really matters?

In one of my university classes we were talking about a controversial matter and someone said, "Well, people have been doing that for all time!" As if that makes it right or normal or the best option! People have been killing each other for a long time, too! Does that make it normal and desirable social behaviour? I find that people often follow the easiest and most self-serving route instead of choosing to step out in a way that serves others and promotes respect and commitment. How often do we stop to think about why we do the things we do and how our actions affect others and where they are ultimately leading us? The pattern is predictable: if a few people are doing it, especially our friends, we just go along with it and adopt the behaviour as our own. It is easy. It is less costly. It requires less of us. We abdicate our responsibility to make the right choice by resting on the choices of others.

I am often dismayed at what I see evident in our church group. Here too, commitment and service and a desire to grow and learn and build something in our community are rare things. It all too often comes down to the lowest common denominator of "What is convenient for me, and what do I feel like doing at the moment?" I guess I just want to know...where are the leaders? Where are the people who will rise above the mediocre behaviour of the crowd and influence others in a positive way? Where are those who will commit themselves to the things that Jesus made a priority and not put their own comfort first? Where are the faithful ones? Where are the ones who will stand no matter what happens around them?

Where am I?

This is a solitary nail sticking it out near St. Lazare.

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