Some weeks back, I took a friend of mine out for people watching.
I told him that I have been people watching as a hobby for years and as time went by I started observing more and more behavior and activity that was somewhere between slightly depressing and downright horrifying.
It used to be funny.
Phone users loudly sharing things they probably would rather not if they were more conscious of the moment. Toddlers concentrating on every step only to be (hopefully gently) knocked down by their own distracted mom who promptly responds with, “Be careful! Watch where you’re going!”
People, especially girls doing things because they hope someone is watching. And other people, especially men doing things because they assume no one is watching. You know, lots of scratching or digging in dark places, although to be fair, ladies pull at their undies a lot but mostly if they’re wearing a dress.
These days it’s bad parents, bad kids, people being mean to each other.
Rudeness, posturing, aggressiveness.
Attitudes and behavior that border on violence, both physical and spiritual.
I tell you, people are sometimes incredibly cruel and indifferent and they pull it all off with a nastiness that says, “I’m justified in this.”
It’s essentially all the bull-doody you see and hear about in the media, except it’s up close and magnified.
An hour not quite two went by before he gave me a resigned look and said, “More doing, less watching would resolve this.”
I remind him that if you watch the world and it seems a little nutty then it can make you reluctant to want to join in.
Does joining in make you a bad person?
Or were these people already who they seem to be long before they ever put their bad behavior on display?
And are they bad people or just regular people having a bad day caught at the worst possible moment?
Still, he’s right, and I know this.
And I have been taking baby steps, and thinking about what’s important to me and not just planning what to do next, but doing it.
I haven’t given up people watching completely. I’m a writer and the observation of human life is part of who I am, what I do.
I gotta be me.
I observed the events of Monday evening at the Boston Marathon.
Even in chaos, I observed instances of people running towards the site of the explosion to help tear down barriers with only their hands to help trapped bystanders escape.
I see and hear from people who opened their homes to strangers because everyone was ordered off the streets and some were visiting the city and had nowhere to go, or couldn’t get there fast enough.
I watched people lifting and holding up other people, carrying people, yanking on the dazed and confused to pull them in the right direction.
I witnessed people being their best under the worst possible circumstances. All the good things in people we never hear enough about, up close and magnified.
But more doing, less watching, right?
Of course, we will inevitably watch this story unfold, we will listen for more details and facts about what exactly happened, and why.
I know that as we hear more about how we can help, we certainly will.
And for those fellow people watching hobbyists, those who were watching, and maybe saw… even if you’re not sure what you saw, you can help, too.
Something stands out in your mind, and anything could be something.
Anyone with info about the incident can call 1-800-494-TIPS.