Few human activities can be performed without engaging with others. Ironically, despite this, we tend to overlook how important it is to live together united and in peace with those with whom we share space. It seems that these days, exacerbated individualism is rewarded with a certain aura of exclusivity or incorrectly assumed success.
I like to think that we still have a collective consciousness, that we weigh the collective above the individual, that we make all our decisions considering how they might affect others, nearby or not, but with some relationship in the end. We live in a world with limited resources, and what is worse, we also limit values: solidarity, empathy, love— without adjectives— respect and tolerance seem to be products from an exclusive store, with limited access for many who prefer not to see the reality of others, not to bother themselves, not to see beyond appearances.
When we can share some privileges with others— perhaps undeserved— sacrificing some of them, we make known our true nature. Fair is not a common name, nor a surname, much less a reality. We assume [these privileges] to be ours for life, as sacrosanct rights, disproportionate privileges that have fallen down to us from heaven, clouding our vision and corrupting our action. We lose our true orientation of things when we feel that we deserve something that we have not worked for no matter who loses on our account. It seems that it is not enough to live as you want at the expense of others; you must also demand that others live the same way. Selfishness has such deep roots that we never manage to see them completely, and a selfish society will always be doomed to failure.
Disregard for others, for those who seem distant but we see daily, traps us in a false bubble as fragile as our vision. In Costa Rica, the groups are getting smaller, smiles are increasingly more conditioned and confidence seems to be scarce to the point that we can turn violent in seconds. The recollection confuses me and sometimes I feel like I don’t live in the same country as I did in 1995. Can we really change so much so quickly? Now for many what is public is always “bad,” so much so that public transportation is not an option for those who have a car, no matter what the cost. Elementary and high school are refuges for the underprivileged, for those whose names we do not know because privilege has not reached them; it is the last resort for some, the only for others. Sadly it seems that we decide to live alienated, comfortable, without much desire to know about others because they are just that— others; because not knowing appeals to us. We are afraid of what is new, of seeing our reflection in the faces of others immersed in another reality. Integrity and coherence are values that are not difficult to practice. The difficult thing is dealing with those who do not understand and who only see what is convenient for them.
I finish writing this in the middle of vendors who turn pale under the inclement sun and dozens of travelers who are also waiting for the bus. Three start up at the same time. So much noise is confusing and we all get up from the benches, line up at the doors, count out our change and board the buses that are traveling along different routes, that will return tomorrow to the same place that we leave from today, each other, not the others.