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Monday, August 08, 2011

The best and worst of people

As I mentioned in my blog about Elitch's, one of the things that struck me about the whole horrible day was how I saw such a contrast in the best and worst of people.

First off, I did want to mention that I did hear back from the staff. They were nice about it and apologized for our experience, although they were also really defensive in how they did what they could. I guess I can understand that they'd want to defend their actions, but I do hope that they will do more in the future to prevent it.

But that brings me back to what I've been pondering since it all happened- why are we all so focused on our needs beyond everyone else's? It bugs me that we're in such a "me-first" world. People who were so intent on getting their tickets before everyone else, even though there were plenty to go around, had no problem pushing and in some cases, stepping on others to get there. I can still picture this one woman. So aggressive, and did everything she could to put herself and her two young sons ahead of everyone else. Despite multiple people talking to her, trying to be reasonable, her answer was, "too bad."

I saw her a number of times throughout the day. She must've been on my radar or something, because in that crowd, it would have been hard to find anyone. Each time, she seemed to be perfectly happy and having a great time. And I had to wonder, how does she do it? How does she live with herself, knowing she'd hurt others on the way to getting to a good time? I also wondered about what kind of people her sons would grow up to be. Because if this woman can act like that over a concert, where she would have gotten tickets anyway had she just waited her turn, where else does this aggressive, me-first attitude come out?

I want to contrast this, though, with some great people we met. We spent a couple of hours in line with them. Nice people. Once the pushing started, I chose to hang back, because I knew we'd get tickets anyway, and it wasn't worth fighting to keep our places. In the melee, these people ended up ahead of us. Not a big deal, and I honestly didn't care. But they did. They spotted us and said, "hey, you guys were in front of us. Get up here." I keep thinking about them, because it would be so easy to focus on the negative from the day, and the nasty people. This family was a reminder to me that not everyone is out for themselves. I watched them help others in line, giving assistance to one of the moms who'd come alone with her children, and one of her children had gotten hurt. So the mom from the nice family went and got the injured child a band-aid. She understood that there are more important things than having the right place in line.

It made me stop and think about the things I make a big deal over or try to push my way ahead on. And you know, so many times when we think that what we want is more important than someone else, it just isn't. So I've been trying to be more intentional about asking myself that question lately. Am I putting myself ahead of others, and is putting myself ahead worth it?

I keep thinking about Philippians 2:3-4 "3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect at following Paul's command here. Okay, I fail a lot. But as I think about the time we spent in that crowd, of some of the situations I've dealt with lately, I've thought about how differently it would have turned out had that verse been the guiding principle. And I also wonder how different other situations in my life would look if I continue working on the same.

What about you? Are you good at putting others first? How do you balance putting others first and taking care of yourself?

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