I cried on a plane today.
I sat in the middle of a cramped metal cylinder filled with 179 other people and cried.
I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because I had to leave my house at 2am to make my flight after fighting a migraine all day the day before, and I was worn smooth out. Maybe it was because I had had a very difficult conversation with a dear friend the night before, and couldn’t stand the idea that I hurt him. Maybe it was because the song on my IPod was really sad, and made me think about a love lost. Maybe it was because I am afraid of the direction in which our country is going, and I feel powerless to do anything about it.
Maybe it was all of those things, or maybe it was something completely different. I don’t know.
That isn’t important.
What is important is that I sat in the middle of 179 people, crammed against each other, literally arms touching on the armrest between us, and cried…and no one noticed.
We were on the flight together for almost two hours. I sat with tears running down my cheeks for at least an hour and a half of it, and no one noticed.
When did this happen to us? When did we stop noticing, much less caring, about the people around us? When did human interaction and shared compassion become a thing of the past?
I could have been on my way to a funeral. I could have just received a diagnosis of cancer. I could have been so distraught that I was considering suicide. There were 179 people who could have comforted me, given me hope, spoke words of friendship which might have convinced me not to take my life.
But they didn’t.
I sat for 90 minutes crying alone in the middle of 179 people and nobody even noticed.
I think this is indicative of society today. As it turns out, I was okay. But 179 people didn’t know that.
The United States is at a crossroads. Either we begin to notice the pain, need, and injustice around us, or we will allow fear, hate, and greed to be the foundation upon which we live.
It seems like a tall order. I can’t stop the destruction of the public school system or the building of a destructive and unjust pipeline all by myself. It is too much to even think about, so I just look away.
But there is another option.
Start by noticing the pain sitting next to you, and simply do something about that. Reach out to the person in need. Speak up against the injustice you see.
We allowed ourselves to get to this point. We looked the other way. We can’t do that anymore. It is time to remember who we are.
I cried on a plane today and nobody noticed. I challenge you to never let that happen anywhere near you again.