Scrolling through Twitter today I was catching up on Brexit, Benghazi, SCOTUS, Pat Summit and the regular random cat pictures, movie memes and (unfathomable to me) GoT references. Full stop when I saw this video.
I have not been able to stop thinking about it all day.
tl;dr a six year old child actor plays two roles. One, a street urchin. The other a middle or upper middle class child. People react very differently to her, ignoring her when she has a dirty face and stopping to help her when she is clean.
I watch this and wonder not just about how much people suck, but–since I’m a people, too–how much do I suck? Do I see and connect? Or am I blind and indifferent? What does my pigeon brain see that stops me from being kind?
I’m thinking about the suburban neighbors calling the police to report unaccompanied kids, six and ten, walking down a street to the park–free range. The strangers thought those children should be protected. Then I think about police shooting a twelve year old boy who was playing, just seconds after they rolled up. They couldn’t even be bothered with administering first aid to a little boy, a sixth grader, named Tamir Rice. He had been playing with an airsoft gun. [Baby Bear had an airsoft gun in middle school.]
I’m thinking about the mother with the sleeping babe in the stroller asking downtown office workers for diaper money. People don’t even look at her. We brush past. We wonder why she’s begging. We think that she may buy drugs and not Pampers. We judge her.
Then I remember telling my parents that everyone in D.C., would be happy to help them with the subway. Just ask. I know that those same office workers who can’t see the woman with the stroller would offer my midwestern retiree folks money for subway fare. People would judge them as nice old people.
They had to stop filming the video because the little girl was so hurt. People were mean to her. Truly mean. Just because she had dirty clothes and a sooty face. But when she was clean, they were loving and kind.
She knew she was the same person. She couldn’t endure the contrast, the unfairness, the disparity, the despair. She cried. I cried, too. Not just for the mean, but because her budding soul felt the mean.
I have been thinking about this video all day. I know I am not the good guy in the video. There’s work I need to do to transcend my own bias, my antipathy and my apathy. Baby Bear says we should do things from love. Maybe I wouldn’t have stopped and helped that child. Tomorrow, and the next day and the next and the next and the next next, though, I can.
Nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. –Anne Frank