What did that cashier at that retail store do before where they are now? How about that millionaire living in their mansion; what's their story? Well, let me challenge your brain for a moment with a thought of mine and experiences I've encountered. So put that smartphone on silent, pause Netflix, and let me dive into your mind for the next five minutes.
Think about this: we walk by and pass hundreds to thousands of people day after day that we come into contact with. Why do they matter, though? Let me ask you this question I want you to ponder through this post. If we never ask about something, how can we ever know? Close your eyes for a moment. No, not literally. What I mean is close your eyes to your mind and just think. Imagine this: you are in a crowded, busy city. You decide to take a rest and stop at nearby bench to sit down at. You take a good look around you and all you see is people. They're all rushing from one location to another. Students going to school, employees going to work, housewives going to the store, and so on. The majority of them don't even bat an eye to one another; they just continue on their way. Most of society doesn't give this a second thought. Myself, though? I want to challenge this view. Think of it this way: each and every person has a name and a story. Their story or journey could be of great trials that they had to overcome to achieve the great prosperous life that they have now, or they could be in a dark pit, struggling, feeling like they are drowning in fear and darkness. Allow me to share an experience I had in the past.
It was mid December of 2015 while I was stationed with the Army in South Korea. It was the standard weekend routine with my buddies that night. We went to the movies, bar, mall, and then home. After we had left the bar we traveled across a bridge over the city of Suwon. We saw an elderly man who appeared homeless. He looked confused and desperate, asking for any handout that he could. He was also an amputee, with his stump poorly wrapped in an old shirt. For a moment I sat there and watched him and the people around him. One after another person walked right past him not even acknowledging his existence. While a few stopped and dropped a small amount of coins in his box, I began to wonder something. Who was he? What was his story? What if he was a father who had tried to support his family, but was laid off from his job and now is doing everything he can to provide? What if he had given everything of himself to keep them well? Could he have been a veteran who was unrecognized and broken inside while slowly falling apart? All I knew was when I had stopped and dropped 10,000 WON (equivalent to $10 USD) in his box his face lit up and spoke to me. Unable to translate what he had said I just smiled back at him and went my way. I do not personally know who this elderly man was or where he had come from. What I do know, though, in my struggles and my life is that the past does not define a person. Since this encounter, I began to wonder about people who are strangers much more often.
What about that young lady walking down the aisle at the store? I wondered what were her dreams or ambitions in life. What if she was going through a rough time in life at home or in a bad or abusive relationship? Maybe she was an honor student with a full ride scholarship to her dream college and has her entire life planned out. What if she was struggling to stay alive each day with a silent battle in her mind? What if she was alone or feeling worthless? We may never know what a person has gone or is going through. Everyone is fighting some kind of battle. So now that you have all this in mind, think about this one more time for me.
If we never ask about something, how can we ever know, or help? Everyone has a past that doesn't define who they are now, some amazing journey, a dark battle, and most of all, everyone has a name. Some of us have had different battles than others, but everyone is and will go through something. So before you are quick to judge someone about how they dress, act, or treat others, think about this. Scars of the mind and heart can be permanent. Time fades, but the wound is still there. How will you ever know if you never ask?