The Walls of Individuality

subphone1I’m riding the metro-subway in Washington DC. It’s a public scene- swarming with people, flourishing with diversity.

It’s noisy.

But not with chattering voices.

The sounds that flood my ears are those of shuffling footsteps and trains echoing through the tunnels. People swiftly walk with stern faces, checking their watches, cutting me off at each corner.   I sit on the train, loaded with people staring at their phones. 90% of people are entrenched by their hand held devices- by their personal extensions.

The same tools we use to connect are those that isolate us.  

A quartet of men snap their fingers and sing a blues song.  Their voices are pleasing and their talent is impressive- a colorful break in the black and white trend.  However, people walk by shaking their heads, seemingly annoyed by the non-conformity. Just another torment on their daily dart.

Diversity flourishes but the walls of individuality disgrace the bonds of unity.

I try to imagine how different the world be if strangers were more open. If our personal bubbles and our sense of separateness could fade.  I see people joyful everywhere. Smiles and genuine exchanges. Simple acts of joy and comfort rather than a gray and murky daily grind.  It’s sad to me that this sense is considered an unachievable utopia.

“We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everyhwere.” ―Tim McGraw

I surface from the subway. To the bustling city streets. A car crash occurs on my left. Shards of debris clutter the city street. No one even stops to see if the involved are ok. Rather, drivers honk and curse at the inopportune delay.

I’m lost and looking every which way. People pass by, frustrated at the inconvenience of having to walk around me- most people not even noticing as they are staring at their phones rather than the world around them.  And finally an elderly couple senses that I need assistance and stops to help me with directions.

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ― Mother Teresa

The destiny of man is to unite.  This power is not in one man but in all men. Today, set your intentions on unity. As Ben Franklin once put it, “The good that men may do separately is small compared to what he may do collectively”. 


8 thoughts on “The Walls of Individuality

  1. I call this The Age of Distraction in which, just as you say, we are alienated by the very mechanisms that enable us to be more connected than any previous generation. The saddest aspect of which is that we are rapidly losing the desire/capability of reflection. Younger generations, especially, fill their available time with constant electronic distraction, rarely, if ever, spending time alone in their own heads determining who they are and what they feel. Rapidly disappearing is the capacity to determine one’s values by reflecting on what is important to oneself. And, perversely, the greatest alienation always happens in the densest population.

  2. you’re a perceptive observer of the urban world around you. here in seoul the immersion in handheld devices is likewise rampant, and i wonder what it says about where our species is headed. i’m baffled by how so many of us have been hijacked by our little portable windows of entertainment and information. i look forward to reading more of your work and wish you great success and–more than that–unity!

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