Bicyclists. They get in the way. They are unpredictable. They are just obstacles to get around.
Right now, you are reading this thinking I am a jerk for thinking such things. How can this guy be so insensitive? Bicyclists aren’t so bad, they’re allowed the road like anyone else.
But when you’re behind one and they’re slowing your journey, you’re probably thinking one of the sentiments listed above. That doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a human person.
What I’m getting at is how easy it is to dehumanize people and turn them into objects or problems instead of people with problems and needs. And this unfortunate capacity is one of the chief problems plaguing our world. We, myself included, are too quick to dehumanize.
Why is this such a big deal? Well, when we dehumanize, it’s easier to not care and to allow or do terrible things to others. In his great book, Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek says “[Here is] one of the shortcomings of using numbers to represent people. At some point, the numbers lose their connection to the people and become just numbers, void of meaning.” In other words, when we make people things, like numbers, they become expendable like an obstacle in the road to be tossed aside or removed.
What does this mean in the everyday scheme of things? Where are there times when you dehumanize and forget that that person you are cussing is just like you, fragile, needy, unreasonable, and selfish? How does this influence how you lead or serve? How would changing this frailty change how you lead and/or serve?
To gain some clarity, let’s get back to our bicyclist. How do we go from seeing them as a pain to being people? The first thing to do is ask yourself some questions to get perspective. Is it possible that they are cycling for their health because they had a heart attack and want to live to see their children grow up? Is it possible that they are cycling to raise money for a good cause? Is it possible that they are cycling because one of their values centers on the environment? When you think unselfishly giving others the benefit of having good intentions it is easier to see that they’re just people that love, live, and dream like all of us.
When we make a point of seeing others as people, it changes how we behave, it changes how we feel. As you move through today, make note of how you see others. See if consciously focusing on their humanity changes how you behave. See if this focus moves you to more reasonable responses. If it does, try it again the next day and the next. I can only hope it changes your world and the world of those you meet. Here’s to changing the world, one human at a time.