I heard the sirens behind me before I saw the flashing lights of an ambulance, followed closely by a fire truck. Like everyone else on the roadway, I looked around trying to figure out where the ambulance was heading, and as soon as I saw the lights, eased my car over to the right side of the road. Only the ambulance wasn’t traveling in the direction of traffic, the ambulance was heading for whichever side of the roadway was clear, if only for a few car-lengths – much to the surprise, no doubt, of those in the oncoming lane of traffic.
I figured it must be a truly urgent emergency for the ambulance and fire truck to be commandeering both sides of Pacific Coast Highway. Nonetheless, drivers on either side were nudging their cars onto the side, out of the way. At no time did the ambulance have to blow its horn, slow down, or do anything else to get where it needed to go.
We care. We really do. In moments of crisis, large or small, our respect for one another simply as human beings, shows up. I am reminded of a very touching video posted in the final weeks of the chaotic Presidential campaigns, which featured a woman trying to find the owner of a lost dog found wandering in a parking lot. It was an “equal opportunity” posting, in that the same situation was played out in both Trump and Clinton rallies. The woman wore a “Trump” t-shirt in the Clinton situation, and a “Clinton” t-shirt in the Trump situation. Didn’t matter. People in both rallies, without exception, treated the woman with respect, and tried their very best to help her find the dog’s owner. Small crisis, true, but oh-so-telling.
We care. We really do. So what if, this New Year, we made a resolution to show our caring, our respect for our shared humanity, when it isn’t a matter of a lost dog or tragic accident? What if, just as a matter of course, throughout our most ordinary of days, we made the effort to give people the benefit of the doubt, to assume people are doing their best (including ourselves!), and to respect them, regardless of whether or not we agree with them?
I know, it’s easier to do with lost dogs than it is with co-workers or family, much less strangers who are rude to us or ignore us altogether. But heck, we’re still all in this together, and a little bit of respect and consideration goes a long way.
And who knows? Someone may give you some of that respect and consideration when you least expect it, in a most delightful way.