A plea for understanding

Zach Buckley, IVLeader Columnist

I have spent the past two Thanksgivings working the buffet at Grand Bear Lodge.  I do not mind it at all – the extra money helps.  I get to see families enjoy a meal together, which is a picture rarely ever painted in American society today.  This year I noticed something on the reservations list that broke my heart in more ways than one – a woman made a reservation for a table for one.  I cannot even begin to explain just how unjust and terrible something like that is.

I want to share with you one of the few fears I have in my life.  Have you ever gone out to eat or to get coffee and noticed that one old man sitting there eating his meal or drinking his coffee all by himself, staring at the families passing him by?  I have a deep seated fear that I will one day be that man.  When I was faced with this fear yet again on Thanksgiving, I began to think about the nature of such a tragedy.  Now, obviously there will always be exceptions to this scenario – they are not always alone by choice – but I cannot be swayed to believe that that is the case every time.

Why does this happen?  What has to happen in someone’s life to present them with such a terrible fate? Is it a terrible fate to begin with?  I cannot give a definitive yes or no, I don’t think something as intangible as this needs an answer as black and white as that.  Something deep inside of me fears this and I plan on doing my best now to stop the potential onset.

I believe that the key to all of this is compassion and selflessness.  It’s something within us that we continually try to beat out of us and I don’t understand why.  If I can, I will always give someone else a hand before myself.  We are in a society that values solipsism and hedonism above all else and it’s why we are failing.  This world is falling apart slowly and it’s our own unwillingness to change and to help the other guy.

Why go out of your way to help someone else out?  That is a question that many people seem to wrestle with.  The best answer I can offer is my own personal belief.  We are here to make an impact on the lives and world around us.  Most people can agree with me on that.  Maybe you don’t?  That’s perfectly alright.  You could believe that this entire world is nothing more than a series of random events and circumstances that we are forced to deal with and that’s great.  Either way I spin it for myself, though, I believe that the more lives I impact the lesser my chances are of being that solitary older gentleman.

But the key to that is the fact that while making lasting friendships may be the potential solution to my fear, I do not allow it to be the sole driving force behind my actions.  I cannot urge people enough to be kinder to those around them – and not just because it is a seasonal thing to do.  It has to happen all the time.  Forget the season of giving – it needs to be a lifestyle of giving.