New Thing: Pictures of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. A new one every day, or maybe I'll stretch it out to once a week. These are just pics I've grabbed from the Internet or from some other source, not to be used commercially or whatever. Sometimes I'll include a caption explaining the pic, but usually not. Simple stuff, right?
So here's today's Buddha - a pic I found of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva:
Man. People in this country don't know how good they have it.
I was on a bus this morning, sitting there ready for the commute. The buses where I live have priority seating for the elderly and the handicapped, consisting of the forwardmost six seats, but most folks just sit there whether they're handicapped or not. This includes me.
Now, I've always figured that if someone fitting that category needs a seat, I'll be happy to move. I think most people would rather surrender their seat than inconvenience someone who's already dealing with some infirmity. But it's not practical for anyone to simply leave those six seats open indefinitely.
Well, it happened this morning, but not the way I'd expected. I was sitting there, and all six of the priority seats were filled with people who don't fit the priority (meaning, none of us was handicapped or particularly elderly). A young woman - I say young, I really don't know how old she is - with a bandaged foot approached the door of the bus.
"Is there room in the front for me?" she asked.
"No ma'am," said the driver. "But you can sit further back if you want." He must have either not seen her bandaged foot, or maybe he didn't think it was that bad.
"Well, someone's gonna have to move!" the woman shouted in a huff.
Now, here's where I have an issue with this whole arrangement. For one thing, the woman was ambulatory, meaning that she could walk to the bus, and then up the steps. So why couldn't she have walked the five steps to another seat? I'm not a doctor and it's not up to me to say who deserves a handicapped seat and who doesn't - but as part of this society, I have to wonder where we went wrong with the concept of handicapped seating and other societal entitlements.
As soon as we saw her, a number of us happily volunteered our seats in the front, and this frowning, unhappy young lady got to ride to work in the front seat - the one formerly occupied by me - while holding her bandaged little foot up in the air for all to see. I found an equally confortable seat a few rows back.
Folks, I've been to a few places around the world. In many countries, there's no such thing as coddling everyone with an owie. This dour woman would have been entirely on her own, to deal with her injury however she could. In a number of the countries I've visited, she wouldn't have been allowed to leave the house without her husband.
I'm not saying that's a good thing. But it does give one pause, doesn't it?
My point is this. If you live in the United States, you have everything you need. You have enough to eat (too much, in many cases). You have, regardless of the bantering of the media and certain politicians, access to medical care. If you're climbing onto a bus for the early commute, I'm guessing that you have a job, and probably some place to live. You have some means of transportation that brought you here to the bus stop. Some kind of support structure, whether it's your loved ones or the Church or whatever.
Now quit complaining. You have more in your life than most people around the world. Instead of us sitting here, bitching because we were inconvenienced for a few seconds (literally, it was a few seconds) on a bus, maybe we should be thinking about people who don't have a bus. Maybe there are people somewhere in the world who walk more than ten miles to get to work, or to school. Maybe there are people who haven't eaten in two or three days, and if they're injured they have no medical care available to them, so they wrap their bloody foot in a towel or something until they can see a doctor - which is another ten-mile walk, or more.
Compassion, in my experience, goes two ways. I think it's time we started offering it instead of demanding it. What do you think?