Self-absorbed nation needs new perspective

By Mandy Treccia

I have a tendency to be self-absorbed. I get lost inside my head, and I lie awake at night overanalyzing and overthinking every little thing that is bothering me. Every problem seems huge and dire-like my whole world is going to end if something doesn’t go just the way I want it to.

One thing I’ve noticed is that Americans, as a whole, seem to take this point of view. We focus on our personal problems and tune out everything that’s going on around us. We forget there are other people who are dealing with things we cannot even imagine.

On Nov. 26, Americans watched in horror as terrorists targeted Mumbai, India. The horrific attacks seemed to go on forever as gunmen stormed hotels looking for American and British citizens to kill. We watched the violence unfold on the news, and we were shocked by what was happening. We forgot about our own problems, and we worried about the innocent people who were trapped all over the city. We hoped and prayed it would be over soon and everyone would be all right.

Then, it was right back to being wrapped up in ourselves.

Two days later, it was Black Friday, the so-called busiest shopping day of the year in America. People stood in line for hours-some overnight-to make sure they were the first in line to get the best deals.

In Long Island, N.Y., a Walmart worker was killed when a mob of shoppers broke through the store’s front doors and trampled him in their haste to start shopping. Other people were injured, including a woman who was eight months pregnant.

As the chaos unfolded, people kept shopping, even after Walmart employees tried to close the store in wake of the tragedy. They had been waiting in line all night, and they wanted to get the items they came for. They literally walked over the man’s body to get into the store.

How can something like that happen?

A man died. He lost his life because he was at work and he tried to open a door. People need to stop and think about that for a minute. What was so important about getting into Walmart at that moment? No material object is worth a human life, and it is despicable that people had no problem going about their shopping after witnessing a man’s death.

Police closed the store for a few hours and it was once again flooded with people when they reopened later that afternoon. The man’s death was forgotten and people went about their business.

I suppose it’s easy for a person to put a stranger’s death out of his or her mind. But what if the person who died was a friend or a loved one? Would that make people stop and think for a moment about the tragedy that occurred?

A very good friend of mine was telling me that she was upset because she had to cancel her monthly dinner with her co-workers. A friend of her husband had committed suicide, and his wake was the night her dinner was scheduled. She said his death was his own fault because he had chosen to take his life, and she was mad it interfered with her plans.

I didn’t know what to say.

This was a whole new level of self-absorption. A young man killed himself because he felt something in his life was so terrible he couldn’t live anymore, and my friend was mad because she couldn’t go out to dinner. It was sad on so many levels, but I didn’t say anything.

Maybe that is part of the problem.

We all need to start putting things into perspective. As we go through our days, we have to stop dwelling on our own issues and start paying attention to what is happening around us. We need to stop being angry about things that have happened in the past and focus on moving forward.

But even more importantly, we need to pay attention to what is happening to the people around us. If a friend is sad or upset, take the time to find out why. If a stranger on the street is lost, take a moment to offer directions. Don’t just sit back and dwell on your own problems.

Things could always be worse.