The Greater Good

When I was 16 or so, I had just finished reading Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. This piece is a strange sort of rant in a similar stylistic tone I guess. I loved Salinger's style and when this rant asked to come out, I obliged. She's 5 years old but still worth reflecting on. Enjoy.


Sometimes when I am alone, I think.

I don't mean think as in school, or about our past and where our race is going now. I mean think, as in who I am and what I long to be. It's pretty depressing sometimes, at least to me. The only time anyone thinks about me personally is if I stop to do so. In our society, no one truly cares about anyone else anymore. They're too damn busy trying to figure out the entire human race. They're just as confused as I am about their own souls, or personalities.

We go to school for years, and there we learn about other people. We learn of famous figures in history, like Columbus, or William Lyon Mackenzie. We learn about their struggles, their hopes, their dreams and their defeats. But do we ever stop in class and try to figure out who they really were? No -- not unless you're in a school training to be a Sigmund Freud disciple.

That's the problem with school today. We never are taught how to think like these people we are told are important. Weren't their inner selves of any importance? How can we possibly understand ourselves if we aren't taught to understand others? Kind of like an example before you do your assigned work.

I sometimes wonder if maybe that right there is the key to world peace. If we could understand people then wouldn't we get along? Rather than just trying to make things better for the whole group, why not focus on what the person wants. Seems selfish, doesn't it? But it's not. It's taking the time to understand ourselves and know who we are.

What first impressions do we have of ourselves? I mean, in a way we meet ourselves if we stop and think "who am I?"; first impressions are the most lasting after all. Maybe if we thought about that, we'd know what others really think of us. That would certainly blow someone's mind, to go up to them and tell them they probably think this and that of you -- "Trust me, I've met myself". What a freaky concept.

Or is it freaky? Shouldn't we all do that? I think so. So I decided to stop thinking about the world, my city, my family even. I got to know myself. I even introduced myself too. I must sound like a raving lunatic or something but really, you should try it. And you know what? It was one of the most enlightening things I've ever done. It felt so good to stop and just know ME, instead of thinking about making everyone in the world happy.

Of course, I want everyone in the world to be happy with what they are and who they are. I want the wars to stop. But maybe if we all stopped for just a few moments and said hello to ourselves, that pause would be enough to stop the wars. For we would know why we do what we do. We would know why we kill, why we hate and why we love.

We would know how to make ourselves happy, instead of relying on others to provide that. But I'm dreaming here. Nobody will see this, not when they are pursuing good for the greater cause, the almighty WE that society perceives as being more important. But I cannot do anything about this. I can't share what I have found.

For that would be benefiting the greater good, wouldn't it?