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Stay Human

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

I have a love/hate relationship with bumper stickers.

I mean, when did our vehicles become a statement of identity? Why do people want me to know certain things about them?

Things like…

I ran a marathon (26.2)
My kid is an honor student
I love my Bichon Frise (I had to look it up, it is a type of dog. Although if you must look it up, it’s not a real dog.)
Bernie Sanders 2016 (Oops)
Mean People Suck (somehow this one always makes me smile) 

 

Imagine my surprise and delight to read on an old Ford F250, “Stay Human”.

In the times we are living through, I cannot believe how easy it has been to dehumanize people. People who do not agree with me, people who treat me with indifference, I am finding it easier and easier to return the favor and treat them likewise. Sometimes I even initiate the indifference! I suppose I am slowly becoming a part of the problem. It’s like I have a bumper sticker on the back of my rig that says, “Stay Inhuman”!

Being human is to connect to humans. Staying human is to stay connected to humans.

So here is this “Stay Human” sticker. A great reminder. We seem to be forfeiting human connection in this age of social distancing and fake social media connections. As I said, I was delighted. Someone still remembers the great joy of being alive with other humans!

Well, this particular sticker was located on the rear bumper of the gentleman parked next to me at the cross-country ski trails in McCall. There was only his truck and ours. We were parked 5 feet away.

Nothing unusual so far.

We were gearing up and he was gearing up. The three of us (Mrs. Swaim, Abbey, me) and him. All four of us humans, having a similar idea about enjoying nature and recreation at the same time. Nothing unusual about this either.

But here is the kicker. Did I mention we were the only two cars in the parking lot?

Now I ask you folks, would you or would you not make eye contact, say good morning, and treat the other human like a human?

Me too.

This seems like a very human thing to do, particularly with a sticker like “Stay Human” posted so prominently. Certainly, he was inviting me to share his good fortune of being alive and being human.

So of course, I took the initiative. I said, “Good morning.” It was met with a feeble response of “Morning.” Still no eye contact. Still no real admission that I was staying human. I started to suspect I had misread his sticker, maybe it said, “Stay Away” and I just missed it.

This whole episode had an “us and them” quality about it. No connection. With a sticker like that, I figured there would be an “us” quality to our encounter. We humans, doing human things. Together. Us.

This time of social distance and masks and vaccines and polarity has been tricky for all us humans. I understand that. But we are social creatures. We take so many of our communication ques from facial expression, and we are currently handicapping ourselves in being able to understand one another. Particularly if we remove eye contact.

Heck I am an extrovert, I love talking to strangers, it is one of the things that helps me to “Stay Human”. I know everyone is not like that. I know some of you reading this would rather have a root canal without anesthesia before talking to a stranger.

But human connections required two parties. Do your part. It is what “Staying Human” is all about. It is a constant fight to not dehumanize or to not marginalize our neighbors. It is a fight we need to all take seriously. Our health depends on it.

We really do need each other. (Thanks Reuben)

Now more than ever…

Stay human.

Cheers,

ks

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